When junk becomes “vintage”


As I was looking through the farm items for sale last week, I came across an item that caught my eye. It was a certain brand-name of chainsaw that hasn’t been manufactured in several years, but it was advertised as a vintage chainsaw and priced at about three times what it had cost when it was new. I know this because I used to own one, and I’m also certain that I know the reason they are no longer in production – they were junk.

I was taken aback at what they were asking for a 30-year-old chainsaw that was never any good to begin with. I hollered at my wife to come to the computer and look at the ad. She explained that vintage is the latest catch-word that entices people to purchase something with a hint of nostalgia.

Vintage clothing is currently all the rage with the millennial generation. Evidently, there are lots of entrepreneurial people who go to second-hand shops, purchase a few outdated clothes, recondition them, and then sell them at outlandishly high prices, as vintage fashion. I don’t begrudge these people the opportunity to make money, but I wore enough hand-me-downs as a kid and am not interested in paying triple prices to do it again.

Vintage vinyl is also very popular right now among music aficionados, who revel in the playing of old LP albums on their antique turntables – scratches and all. If these kinds of people are interested, I’ve still got a couple hundred vintage vinyl albums, as well as a few dozen vintage eight-track tapes and another couple hundred vintage cassette tapes. Make me an offer.

I looked up the definition of vintage and discovered that the word was originally used to describe the year or place in which high-quality wine was produced. Use of the word has evolved over time to now describe anything of enduring interest, importance, or quality. If I’m correct, that old chainsaw was anything but vintage, but if a hundred-dollar word helps someone market a ten-dollar piece of equipment, I guess you can’t blame them.

Given my newfound appreciation for the word, I need to make an ad for that same advertising medium, informing the public that I have about a dozen vintage cows I would sacrifice for $5,000 each. I also have a stack of vintage, wooden corner posts that I could let go for… let’s say…$200. each. While they’re here, taking advantage of those bargains, I could also surrender a huge pile of rusty but vintage barbed wire—price to be determined.

Since my birthday is next week and I am going to reach the magical age of seventy, I asked my buddies to take an informal survey and pick the word that best describes my milestone achievement, hoping they would use the word vintage. One of my so-called friends chose dilapidated, while another offered up decrepit. Yet another kinder friend threw out the word antique, while one more chose weathered. No one called me vintage, but one did say, “When you were born, the Dead Sea was only sick.” 

So vintage. 

Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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