Saturday, April 27, 2013
The One Of A Kind Shop
Back in the day before Disney merchandise overtook the Park, it was possible for guests to find treasures from all over the world. One of the most beloved shops was the One Of A Kind antique shop in New Orleans Square. Here's an article from The Disneyland Line, date July 5, 1979:
They're Not Getting Older...They're Getting More Valuable!
The shop is small, situated on a well-traveled corner. The French doors, opened wide, reveal a decor best described as "creative clutter." Upon entering, you are confronted with a large, ornately carved dining set Austrian, circa 1860. The tabletop hosts a variety of brass -- door knockers, candlesticks, bells and statuettes. In display cases throughout the shop you see English China, Italian porcelain and German bisque. One nook houses an elaborate bedstead of the '30's.
The scene could be the interior of any of a number of quality antique stores, except for one thing -- location! That "well-traveled corner" is right here in Disneyland, and this unique antique collection resides in our overt own One Of A Kind shop in New Orleans Square.
Besides being one of the most interesting of our merchandise locations, One Of A Kind is probably the most famous outside the Park. Stage Supervisor Jack Onyett commented that "people will often come out to Disneyland for the sole purpose of acquiring something from this shop. Either they've been here before, to look, and now are back to buy, or they've heard that we have something of interest to them."
The buyer in charge of keeping One Of A Kind a tempting lure to antique buyers is Hildegard Webster, a Cast Member since 1961. Her realm also includes the Gold and Silver shops, the Parfumerie and Le Gourmet.
Although One Of A Kind is themed primarily to European antiques (you'll find some early American oak in this group), all the buying is done on this side of the Atlantic. Hildegard is naturally reluctant to reveal her sources, but she will admit that she sticks pretty close to the L.A. and Orange County areas, and "attends a lot of auctions."
At one time, buyers did cross the ocean to search for their treasures, but in the long run this just wasn't practical. "Now," says Hildegard, "the merchandise is close at hand and it enables me to look on year-round basis."
The items vary in age, price and description from alabaster eggs selling for $1.50 each to washstands priced at $650, to the nine-piece dinette set the recently sold for $5900!
The oldest are sets of 18th Century microscopes and nautical instruments. There is even an optometrist's kit from the late 1800's, complete with measuring devices and lenses still intact. But New Orleans Lead Pat Cannon and Hostess Joani Magin agree that the most fascinating item they've yet encountered was the elaborate Gregorian Chant Book dated 1607!
It's interesting to note, too, that even here in the land of antiques there are some endangered species, clocks are getting scarce and the prices have become prohibitive. The ones now available in One Of A Kind are in excellent condition and are very modestly priced.
Although some reproductions are handled, notably chandeliers, needlepoint pillows and bell pulls, the majority of the articles, and all the furniture, are genuine.
"One of a kind" in merchandise, this cozy corner also has some "one of a kind" challenges. For instance, when a large hutch or dining set is purchased, nearly the entire shop has to be dismantled to remove it. From New Orleans, it goes to the Warehouse for pick-up or delivery. Since this procedure has to take place after operating hours, it means that at 5:00 the next morning, Hildegard, a stock person and a Lead must attempt to groom the disheveled shop before the Park opens. According to everyone who has ever been involved, "It's a disaster when we get here! If you've never seen it, you can't even imagine it." But they've never failed to finish on time!
"One of a kind"...it implies the unique, the unusual, the out-of-the-ordinary, from odd to awesome. But to us here at Disneyland, One Of A Kind is that most charming corner shop in New Orleans that knows the beauty of age.
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