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I have a really strong affinity for items that look like one thing but are actually something else, like book boxes. It entertains me a lot. When I’m casting my eyes about anywhere from yard sales to thrift stores to estate sales, what grabs me often times are those funny little things.
This repurposed vintage suitcase stereo is one of those things. It has a 200-watt sound system with high-end Aiwa speakers in it. It was a collaboration between artist Sean Hansen and me. He came into the store and asked me about some of the luggage I have because I collect it like mad.
He asked me if I was able to find some with specifications on them. They had to be a certain width to fit things the sound system in and had to be in excellent condition.
When someone comes to me with a grand idea on how to use something in an unexpected way it’s really exciting. It’s my point to keep things out of landfills and have them take on a new life.
I chose this suitcase because it looks like if I were running away from home in 1934, I could be dragging this along with me. My favorite movie is “Paper Moon” and this looks like it walked out of it.
I always like these sort of tweed-looking suitcases that aren’t really fabric. This goes back to something not really being what it looks like.
This particular one I found after sourcing these for Sean. This guy had a bunch of great stuff in his garage, and I picked up a lot of neat things like Lucky Strike cigarette tins as well.
Putting in a stereo is really great because there isn’t much more you can do with a suitcase that has a stained interior. People don’t want it. Sometimes they get rebuilt as furniture like coffee tables or shelving.
My love for vintage things came from my grandmother, who had an antique store when I was growing up. I now have a tattoo of Great Depression glass because of her. She would give me a quarter and say, “Go ask that nice lady for the plate” because she knew it was Depression glass and didn’t want people to know it was valuable.
Now I’m running this vintage suitcase stereo with my tablet. I hope people are as psyched about these as I am.
(Community Finery is located at 1027 S. Washington Ave., Lansing. This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email email@example.com.)