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Monday August 14, 2006 // By Sarah


I love vintage fruit labels. I know, it’s not all that unique of a thing to love, but I do really love ‘em. A few years ago at the Grayslake flea market, I found this guy who was selling not only the labels (which I bought a bunch of and turned into a large wall hanging in the dining room), but also actual fruit cans with the labels on them. Not cans of fruit. Empty, sealed modern cans that he stuck the vintage labels onto. These cans were adorable. So you’ll understand my excitement when, in February, the “Love Issue” of ReadyMade showed up, and one of the DIY wedding ideas scattered inside was this:

from ReadyMade Feb. 2006

I filed this little scrap of paper away in the Decorations folder, and figured it’d be a piece of cake to get our hands on a bunch of these cans. Then, a few weeks ago, a started trying to get my hands on a bunch of the cans.

First, I figured, they must be available on the internet. Everything is available on the internet. I even went so far as to order these, not noticing that these cans are only 4” x 3” and not imagining that the “reproduction labels” would look quite so much like they were laser printed off a low-res jpeg.

Then, I searched and searched for just a mention of my fruit can guy—some guarantee that if we trekked out to a flea market he would be there. There was nothing. So, we just decided to go for it, and off to the mama of all Chicago-area flea markets we went, figuring if there was a vintage item to be had, we’d find it at Kane County.

We technically had a number of things we were looking for that day, but the truth is I was singlemindedly pursuing flower-holding options. If we couldn’t find the fruit cans, Martha Stewart had proposed mismatched vintage teapots and sugar/creamer sets, or perhaps antique milk bottles and Ball jars. But 2 1/2 hours into our day at the fair and not only hadn’t we found the fruit cans, but it had also dawned on me that Martha wasn’t trying to keep it under $3 per container when she did her shopping. Those vintage teapots were going to be $12 apiece! It was all very demoralizing.

After more than three hours, Sandy left me to circle back and pick up something we’d left at a previous stand. I had just three aisles left before we’d have made a full circle of the entire market, but I was so tired and cranky. I went up one aisle, down the next, and then came out to sit and wait for Sandy. But something made me go back to that third aisle. The last aisle in the whole flea market. The aisle that, by the way, would have been first if we had gone left instead of right when we entered the gate.

And, yes, my friends. There he was. The fruit can guy. He was helping another customer, but turned to give me a confused look as I called Sandy on the cell phone and veritably screamed, “he’s here! I found him! Come quickly!”

The holy grail of cans
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