|Our chairs and umbrella set up on the beach|
We are quite happy with the way the chairs turned out. While the Sunbrella awning fabric we chose is handsome and colorful, it is admittedly not quite as attractive as what was used when the chairs were made in the 1930s/40s. However, as I wrote in Part I of this essay, the modern-day awning fabric we chose is sturdier and far more resistant to splitting or ripping than what was available when the chairs were made. And besides, it was in stock.
I decided to post this series not only because it is a fun before-and-after story, with an attractive subject, but also because there is a lesson to be learned here, Dear Reader. And that is, with but a little planning and foresight one can find far more attractive and green alternatives to what is generally available in big-box and other mass-market retailers. And one needn't pay an exorbitant price to do so, either. Of course it would have been easy for us to go to Target or similar (we are most decidedly not Wal*Mart shoppers at Darlington, at least when humanly possible) and pick up some cheap and cheaply-made beach chairs. But then I would have cheap and cheaply-made beach chairs whose likely near-term fate would be to wind up in landfill in the all-too-short time it would take for them to fall apart. And not only that, but for the brief period I owned them I would be annoyingly confronted by their pedestrian ugliness.
|Boy's crushable Borsalino, ideal for beach and travel, on his chair|
Instead, we own attractive, sturdy wooden beach chairs covered with good looking awning fabric. The chairs are not only a delight to look at, but they are fun to sit in as well, because they are--as I wrote in my last post--attractively beachy in a 1940s way. And for Reggie, that's a good thing.
By re-using and reviving the chairs I believe we are doing "our part" for the environment, and are being far greener than if we had bought new ones. And while we did put new, petroleum-based synthetic fabric on them, we did so to extend their lives for many more years and to provide honest income for a small, independent family-owned business rather than the shareholders of a global conglomerate.
|The photographer's shadow sur la plage|
Now, Dear Reader, I know that you are wondering: "So, Reggie, how much did all this good-feeling-inducing work actually cost you? How much did you have to pay to get such chairs to loll upon oceanside at Fancy Land by the Sea?" Well, the answer is that it did cost more than what it would have had I bought the cheapest alternatives available. But that is not Reggie's objective in life. Reggie's goal is to live in an alternate world to the degraded, cheap, mass-market vision that is generally foisted upon us today, and that in many areas of this country is driving out what was once unique, regional, and attractive.
|We had the beach largely to ourselves|
Reggie aspires to live in a world of grace and honest beauty, and prefers to spend his dollars with local, independent businesses, when possible. And that is why, more often than not, I buy used, vintage, or antique furniture and furnishings. Not only is the craftsmanship better than what is generally available today, but it is usually more attractive, and can often be purchased for less than what new choices cost today. In addition, I am confident that I am acquiring something whose production hasn't contributed to today's environmental woes. And on top of that, I know that once such goods pass out of my hands they are not likely to wind up in landfill, but will be recycled and re-used by future generations of appreciative owners.
|The surf was perfect for frolicking|
Now, to answer the burning question of how much Reggie paid for all of this. He spent a total of $50 to buy the chairs at assorted tag and yard sales, which he admits was a score, and another $270 to have them tightened and recovered. That works out to a total of $320, or a little more than $100 per chair. That seems like a very reasonable price to me because what I got for that is three honest wooden folding beach chairs covered with striped awning fabric that will last another fifty-plus years, and not some junky mass-market alternative that will wind up in landfill in only a few. And what else did I get? I also got two posts out of this subject that I have the pleasure of entertaining you with, Dear Reader.
|Off for a walk|
All photographs by Boy Fenwick