Treasure Hunting

By Kate Riley August 15, 2009

Sonoma County, California is most famous for its wineries.  Within its borders there is a town called Sebastopol that is more famous for its orchards and antiques.  Weekend treasure hunters can visit the flea market, a dozen antique shops, and find great salvage, all within a three mile radius on a Saturday morning. 

I go looking for great finds in Sebastopol at least once a month.  One of my favorite stops is Ray’s Trading Company, offering some of the best salvage and vintage finds around, as well as great reproductions.  The proprietors can answer any question about anything in their warehouse, and they are never shy about telling you if something is a reproduction or a true antique.  I ask a lot of questions and I always get an education. 

rays sign

My apologies in advance for the quality of these photos – they were taken with my iPhone since my camera battery died.  

Inside Ray’s, you can find all sorts of antique knobs, pulls, keys, crystals, and doorknockers. 

 rays knobs and pulls rays antique knobs

  rays hot and cold knobs   rays crystals  rays vintage keys rays doorknockers

Ray has claw foot tubs, pedestal sinks, and a great selection of table legs, balusters and columns. 

rays vintage pedestals

Salvaged windows of all shapes and sizes!  So much possibility here.  Imagine what you could create with decorative paper, paint made for glass, or even chalkboard paint.  I would add some knobs to the bottom, and make a coat rack for my mudroom, or display one horizontally on top of a hutch for added interest. 

rays windows side by side

These reproduction decorative washers were originally designed to prevent bolt heads and nuts from pulling apart from brick or concrete walls.  I think they make such interesting decor.  I’d love to fashion them into bookends, or display them in a series.  

rays star washers

I thought this vintage spritzer bottle was fabulous. 

rays spritzer jug

How about some old trunks or crates?  For storage of course, but turned upside down and stacked, they make a rustic end table.   rays crates

These washbasins would make great planters or creative storage displays. 

rays washbasinsThese brightly colored buckets are so great for a kitchen, bathroom, kid’s room, anywhere. 

rays buckets

Several choices of iron beds:

rays iron beds 

Ray has both reproduction and antique scales.  I couldn’t decide which one I liked better. rays scales

I was fascinated by these vintage American made glass insulators, used in the good old days on top of telegraph and telephone poles, and electric power lines.  Apparently, there’s a whole organization of collectors dedicated just to glass insulators.  Who knew?  Place them on a windowsill, in your garden, or turn them upside down and create a hanging candle holder with some wire.  For a history on insulators, look here and here.

rays electrical

Here was my favorite item I discovered today:  vintage springerle cookie molds, dating back to a German tradition.  Functional, decorative, and just plain cool.  For a history, look here.

rays vintage molds

I had such a great day exploring the flea market and Ray’s Trading.  I picked up some very special finds for my limited edition Etsy ‘Home for the Holidays’ Shop, coming this October. 

And there is still time to enter the HouseHold Wall Words Giveaway – it ends Sunday August 16th at 8 p.m. PST, so don’t miss out.


  1. Oh my goodness! I had no idea about Ray's. I'm just across 37 from the North North Bay, Napa doesn't have any sort of salvage (we don't even have a Salvation Army anymore!) , and I haven't ventured over to SCRAP or UrbanOre in the East Bay yet.

    Those crystals look perfect for a chandelier I have sitting in my garage, waiting for some spray paint and glitz.

  2. Wow, that place looks amazing… what great treasures to be found!! If only I were closer… Ahh, what fun I could have!

  3. What a great place to escape to! I would be there hours…hours! An thanks for the insulator links. We have a bucket or two that a member of my husband's family collected in our shed. I had no idea… Thanks for enlightening me.

  4. fabulous! if i lived in california, i would be there in a heartbeat! seriously, it looks like the kind of place you could spend hours in, just discovering all the treasures.

  5. Oh how I wish there was a place near me like this (NJ)! I have been searching for the pretty door handles forever with no luck. I refuse to pay retail!

  6. I loved all the eye candy, Kate! Made me want to hop on a plane to CA, grab a mocha (for the jet lag, of course) and go shopping with you. ;)

    Those cookie molds are amazing…I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before. I also liked all those keys grouped together. That would make a neat display!

    Now I am on pins and needles after reading about your "Home for the Holidays" shop. Too cool. :) October is a long way away…no sneak peaks? ;)

  7. I love the painted wood buckets! I might have to venture out later today and see what I can find around here. You put me in the mood for some treasure hunting today!

  8. I wish there was a place like that around here. I love those little colored buckets.

    Oh and I'm a fan of insulators too. I posted a blog about what I did with mine.

  9. What a fun and wonderful place. I would love to be able to browse through it. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Marty

  10. I love all of those pictures! I think my heartrate just went up looking at them all. How fantastic!

  11. That antique spritzer bottle is great! What fun and I'm guessing you don't go away empty-handed {I know I wouldn't} from this place!

  12. MAN! I used to live in Pleasant Hill and would have definitely ventured there if I knew it existed! My Dad told me about those insulators when I was a kid but for some reason I didn't believe him. Hmmm you are crafty and educational! Thanks!

  13. What a great idea about an old window into a mud-room coat rack! i'm definately going to have to do that! i LOVE this place, if i'm ever in california, i'm going to be hitting this place up!!!

  14. Very cool. That's definitely my kind of store. It's so fun imagining all the possibilities!

  15. OMGoodness! I'm drooling. I'll have to make a drive out there on my next trip out to visit my fam in the Bay Area. I wish I had a place like this near me.

  16. Did you say "Home for the Holidays Esty Shop?" Can't wait. Loved this tour. Sonoma County has to be one of the loveliest places in the world.

  17. Oh, I'd love to go there! We don't have places like that to shop around here…at least not that I know of. In your door-knocker picture, you've captured my angel door-knocker that I got for my birthday! I think mine is just a reproduction though…but it's still pretty!

  18. I'm so jealous that you have such a fabulous shopping resource so close by! I wish my town had places like that, thanks for sharing all the great treasures!

  19. Hello! I am a new reader….by new I mean I have read your entire blog in the last week. Yes I love it. I also wish I lived in Northern California so I could visit Ray's. I may be in love. Oh late I have had good luck at Goodwill which has been quite nice, but it is not that often that this happens.

    P.S. Did I tell you that you're a genious.

  20. I'd love to have a store like that near me! We have a couple of Habitat for Humanity ReStores, but I haven't seen anything worth salvaging there. It all looks like stuff a slumlord ripped out of his houses after a particularly bad tenant left.

  21. Oh how I miss N.CA! I will be out there in September and can hardly wait to shop some old stores! :o)

  22. We have several of those glass insulators around our house. My father-in-law worked for the telephone company for years and he picked up tons of these. They have a pile of them in their garage. They make great bookends and paperweights. And they're just pretty to look at!

  23. i could get in trouble in a place like this… i didn't know sebastapol was a hot spot for antiques… it won't be hard to persuade my mom to take a trip up north with me! thanks for the tip!

  24. What a neat place! Antique shops, salvage stores, Goodwill, flea markets and places like that are so neat to browse in. I fell in love what that white iron bed! Nice…I usually do my browsing and shopping in these places when the weather gets cooler and that is right around the corner… have got me wanting to go sooner now!

  25. OMG I am so happy. :) I have been looking at this site for the past two days, in love with it, and I decide to click the link to see where you find your goodies, even though they are never anywhere close. Turns out I live about 10 minutes from this place! Love your site!

  26. your website is amazing! inspires me to try it myself! I wish you would post prices on the thrift purchases more often tho!

    Thank you!

  27. Where is this and why isn’t it closer to MY house?? Amazing website by the way! I have just gotten into crafting (well, beyond scrapbooking, which I have done for years, even before it was popular) and I find your website very inspiring & informative. :)

  28. I live in Marin County and for the last few years have been wanting to go ‘treasure’ hunting myself but wasnt sure where to go. Thanks for the references, even though the photos werent coming up, I was drooling with your descriptions. I think I’m gonna have to take a little mom time for myself tomorrow.

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