Mary Ann Phillips
Mary Ann Phillips (MP27) has been a part of the River City family since 1999.. She was raised in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and has been married to her husband Donald for 46 years. They have lived in Tulsa for the last 35 years; and still retains her “Joisey” accent. Actually, in reality, nobody in New Jersey says “Joisey”, but with this lady, her home state radiates from inside of her along with the genuine kindness that we all know. River City Trading Post is proud to have our own “Jersey Girl”.
RC: Your booth attracts a following and has a color coordinated theme, usually with furniture and home decor items. Is this something you have in mind when you stage your booth or is this the look you have always leaned towards?
MA: I can only work with certain colors. I am a neutral person from way back when.
RC: Your favorite color?
MA: Hmm, I would have to say white even though it's not a color. It's bright, cheery, and clean. My entire house would be white if I could do it that way.
RC: Do you decorate at home like you do in your booth?
MA: (Laughing) my neighbors would come over and wouldn't even know that I had price tags on the furniture in my house. These pieces eventually wound up in my booth. My home is very eclectic and doesn't really reflect my booth. (Laughing) My house is in constant transition with furniture and artwork. That's probably how I got into this. I took some Art classes while working for a friend. I started painting furniture, Folk Art was very popular. My thing was Rosemaling, which is a type of Folk Art, decorative painting style. It was very popular and it flew out the door. I would still be doing it. Physically, I can't anymore.
RC: Your prices are attractive to your customers. Do you price with them in mind? What is your strategy as a dealer?
MA: I buy color first then what I think is popular at the time. I don't sell “high-end”. There really isn't a market for it. You're either “high-end” or you're not. Unless you are in the right area, you're not going to get what it is worth. I price what the average person can afford.
RC: Married for 46 years, how did you meet your husband?
MA: (Laughing) Um, well my husband was a friend of my older brother. We didn't start seeing each other for four to six years later. We met in New Jersey. He was a college student who worked at the grocery with my Mother and Aunt. He also worked part-time at the “sweet shop”. (Giggling) I would go in and see him on my breaks.
RC: What do you collect?
MA: I change my mind too quickly. I could never get a collection going. I would never be able to maintain it. Everything I collect is dust! (Laughing)
RC: What is the greatest treasure you have ever found shopping?
MA: Profit wise, I would have to say furniture. I did buy two pieces of Roseville Pottery for 2.00 each. I sold one for 600.00 and one for 200.00. My 600.00 piece ended up in Dayton, FL selling for $1,000.00.
RC: Have you ever sold anything that you've regretted selling?
MA: Oh, all of the time, mostly furniture and vintage fabric. I didn't do anything with the fabric, but it was my Grandma’s, she was a seamstress and I wished I would have held on to it. I was NUTS for fabric.
RC: Have you participated in shows?
MA: Arts and Crafts? Oh yeah, the three day shows. They were hard. I would always sell out and I had a very tiny car at the time. (Smiling) I sold at the Tulsa Flea Market for 3 ½ years.
RC: Did you enjoy the Tulsa Flea Market?
MA: (Smiling) I enjoyed the money. I did very well there. I was into “Naturals”. (Flowers and herbs) truth be known, I would go out and pick for 7-8 hours a day, but I quit when the Lyme disease scare stopped me.
RC: How did you get started with “Naturals”?
MA: I just happened to be on Cherry Street, this is going back 25-30 years....I made a deal with Marty, the owner of a shop that I would work for free if she could teach me. So I did and started selling at the Tulsa Flea Market. Naturals are fun to work with, but silks were a lot harder.
RC: Do you shop sales alone?
MA: I am a loner. I shop alone. However, my good friends, Zaida (rctp dealer) and Becky (former rctp dealer) and I would shop together at times. We would really, really laugh because we all had the same taste. We would all want the same things. We could all be blindfolded and end up in the same picking area. We sold back and forth to each other so much that we never knew who's item it really was. It could get confusing. (Laughing) Now, I shop very fast. I go in and see what is available, I don't visit and I don't ask for reduced prices. If I can make money on it, I buy it.
RC: Favorite Vacation?
MA: Anywhere there is water. Small lakes, ponds; and I was always at the shore in Jersey. I used to be between the bumper cars and the ocean. (Giggling) Young and Skinny, we got to ride the bumper cars for free to attract the boys. (Laughing) My fondest memories would be the shore memories. I would be transformed like I am when painting. (Remember, that's how they keep patients calm in the “looney bins” ~smiling) I was devastated when Hurricane Sandy struck. I had spent all of my summers there and knew all of the places on the shore that were hit.
RC: Do you miss New Jersey?
MA: I only miss two things about Jersey, the food and the ocean. Always Italian for me. I live on Italian. Whatever kind of food you want, they have it 24 hours a day. The Chefs train in New York and come back to Jersey. They have the best Chefs.
RC: You can be spotted singing and dancing on Aisle 4 when you are working on your booth.
MA: (Laughing) I used to get into trouble in shops. The Shriners used to complain that I was a Cataholin'.
RC: Do you have any advice for new or existing dealers?
MA: (Laughing) Don't get into the business!! (Big Laugh) Advice? You know, buy as low as you can so you can pass on the bargain to the consumer. When selling, if you can't get your price, let it go and don't hold on to things. Continuously restock, its retail.
RC: In closing, what is your favorite song?
MA: I go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Classical or ….get ready for this.. “The Stones” yeah, from day one. I can't believe it. From Chopin to Mick. Opera hurts my ears. (Smiling)
Thank you, Mary Ann (Jersey Girl)