A vintage poster for Bardi liquor
Prurient Placards

The venerable International Vintage Poster Fair returns to town for the 20th year this weekend, with dozens of dealers from around the world unrolling more than 10,000 original posters at the Chicago Cultural Center. “Sex Sells!” (duh), a special feature exhibit this year, explores the history of ad men’s use of sex appeal to market products, political viewpoints, movies, and travel. The expo opens with a benefit preview tomorrow from 5–9 p.m. ($45) and continues on Saturday and Sunday ($15, with free admission for anyone under the age of 25). All posters on view have been vetted for authenticity, and local gallerists include Spencer Weisz, Chicago Center for the Print, and Poster Plus. Oh and budget some extra time to see the Vivian Maier photo show on the first floor of the Cultural Center—it’s only here until April 3, and it’s quite a powerful intro to the work of the North Shore nanny who is posthumously getting attention for her keen, self-taught eye.

A still from TLC's 'What the Sell?!'

What the Sell?!

The women of Wheaton’s The Perfect Thing appraisers and consignment antique store are ready for their close-up. After a pilot episode of The Learning Channel’s What the Sell?! garnered millions of viewers last November, the network decided these three generations of charismatic, cackling dealers needed to have an ongoing show, and it airs for 14 consecutive Tuesdays, beginning March 29. The 9,000-square-foot shop is home base for Kate, mom Judith, and gramma Gloria, but they visit estate sales and auctions all over Illinois. Plucky Gloria has the makings of a true reality-show rascal, and from what I’ve seen, this looks like a fun half-hour of educational TV. Watch a preview here, and find the schedule at TLC’s site.

The Pinch salt and pepper set by Craighton Berman

Seasons Greeting

Last fall I wrote about a spicy new product in development by Chicago designer Craighton Berman, this modernist ceramic salt and pepper set called Pinch, funded by Kickstarter. Less than a month after that, he met his investment goal with the help of 111 sponsors (thanks for pinching in, Domestica donaters), and the first edition sold out posthaste. Craighton poured the proceeds right back into a second edition, available now for $50 at his website. If you’re hungry for a set, don’t put off ordering—they are handmade in Seattle in small batches, and “saline” very well.

The March-April issue of Chicago Home + Garden

Get Your Groupon

A lot of us consider Sundays a day of rest from living online, but this week you’re going to have to make a little bit of an exception. The daily discounter Groupon has a sweet deal on Chicago Home + Garden magazine subscriptions, offering two years for a mere six bucks. Yep, you read that correctly—get 12 issues for less than half-off the regular rate; that’s $54 cheaper than buying it off the newsstand, plus you get the convenience of home delivery. You can even use it to extend your current subscription. Put that in your wood-burning outdoor pizza oven and smoke it!

An ad for Urbanest's Ugly Couch Contest

The Homely Advantage

Got a laughable love seat or a dingy, seen-better-days day bed? Before you kick it to the curb, send a photo to Urbanest’s Ugly Couch Contest, and you just might find yourself with 250 clams in your pocket to put toward a new sofa at the modern Andersonville furniture store. Second prize is $100, and you can email photos and contact info to sales@urbanestliving.com until May 1.

The Urban Source dog

Remains of the Day

Did Jan’s recent blog item about clever uses of interior-design samples get your creative juices flowing, but you don’t happen to work on the editorial staff of a glossy shelter mag or in the interior design biz? Urban Source design studio can hook you up next Thursday and Friday from 11–6, during its annual spring sample sale. Expect tons of wallpaper samples, remnants of drapery and upholstery fabrics, window treatment display units, and pillow inserts. And yes, you’ll find high-end materials in quantities that will allow you to make something larger than haute canine couture: Fabrics size up to five yards, and some wallpapers will be full rolls.

Various china from P.O.S.H.

Blue-Plate Specials

The annual Dish Ran Away With the Spoon clearance sale is going on at P.O.S.H., and I can’t think of more appropriate tableware to use at your Mildred Pierce viewing party than vintage American diner china, sturdy enough to withstand chucking at your ungrateful daughter when she mocks you for getting a waitress gig (“No, Veda, actually the pies aren’t nearly the worst of it!”). These pieces are individually priced and marked down 10–80 percent, as are select items in all categories, such as wall-mounted French coffee mills, Laguiole knives, embroidered tablecloths, glassware galore, and that fancy Savon de Marseille liquid soap that’s popping up in trendy restaurant WCs all over town. The sale continues through March 31 at 613 N. State Street and online, and the HBO miniseries reimagining of Millie’s saga (with Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood, and that potty-mouthed Melissa Leo) serves up the piping-hot melodrama on Sunday, March 27.