Hairdresser To Shopkeeper

City Woman Makes Most Of Her Retirement

Jean Smith enjoys running her booths at VSK Emporium and Good as New. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Jean Smith dedicated many years to the hairdressing profession. She started The Family Clipper on East Second Street in 1981 and then worked from a shop in her home from 1989 until 2018. Her transition into retirement was gradual, until a broken arm resulting from a fall, brought her hairdressing business to an abrupt halt.

“I used to go to household sales and would buy things I thought friends would like,” she says. “I started with an Etsy store, but got tired of shipping.”

She rented an unheated booth for a summer at VSK Emporium about 10-12 years ago. When a booth opened up in the heated area, she moved to where she joined more than 50 vendors, some having more than one booth.

“You walk through and it brings back memories. A lot of people tell me they like to come to my booth because I have enough stuff. I buy what I like. It is mostly vintage. I lean toward rustic but have a little bit of everything.”

And that she does. Some of her pieces are quite unique such as a child’s potty in its original gift box. She has a collection of dainty, beautifully-crocheted pieces which include collars, a shrug and a bra, as well as doilies of varying colors and descriptions. A celluloid purse that may have been carried a century ago, is on display near a basket of brightly-colored ladies’ handkerchiefs.

A sampling of Jean Smith’s vintage Christmas items sold at her booth at VSK Emporium.

She also has several pieces of furniture, including various cabinet styles. One is made to place in a corner, another has a door on top for kitchen, bedroom or bathroom use and a third is a forties-era child’s kitchen cabinet. A tiny square stool covered in a variety of pink and green prints with tassels hanging on all sides, sits on the floor. A flour sifter, antique pottery bowls and a white Italian-made soup tureen are a few of the kitchen items that are for sale. She has a large selection of vintage Christmas decorations and much more.

The booth owner used her talent to combine a few older furniture pieces into one, which could be used as a potting bench, a hall table with hat rack or whatever else one’s imagination dreams it to be.

The items stocked in Smith’s booth don’t begin to represent the inventory at VSK Emporium.

“One man stops in every now and then and runs through and comes out with a tool,” she says. “It’s a fun place to visit. It brings back many memories and it is fun to listen to people talk about it.”

“I love looking around. There is something for everybody,” says Kathy Colburn who stops in once every couple of months. “I have found a lot of wonderful little treasures.”

A decorative piece made by combining several glass dishes and beads. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

The Golden Era Music Gallery booth caught my eye with an extensive collection of all things vintage musical. Victrolas, juke boxes, floor model radios with beautiful wood cabinets and other phonographs fill one area. The Nickelodeon is fascinating to watch with a tambourine, drum and xylophone all in one cabinet. A large collection of 45 and 33 RPM vinyl records is offered in the same area.

There is an indoor flea market in the back of the very large building.

“The flea market is fun, whether you like new stuff or not,” says Smith. “My son found something he had been looking for for many years. I used to have country decor. As I got older, I got interested in vintage. My friend says my living room reminds her of being in her grandmother’s house.”

She has made use of her parents and great-grandmother’s dining room furniture. A glass-front bookcase was once her maternal great-grandmother’s. A settee, rocking chair, straight-back chair and a secretary came from her father’s side of the family, but she isn’t sure who had it because her father died of polio when she was four-years old. She uses the china closet her mother once used.

For accessories, she has a wooden bowl and chopper and a quilt made by her great-great-grandmother. She was told by her grandfather that his mother held it very close to her face while she stitched as she may have had glaucoma, as did many other family members.

The former hairdresser keeps busy in her “retirement.” She has a membership to the Boys and Girls Club where she participates in their water aerobics. She has several flower gardens and was one of the stops in the Audubon Secret Garden Tour. She devours books, especially mysteries, which are her favorite.

“I love auctions. I go to Corry and South Dayton. Most of my friends are from the auctions.”

She has a son, a daughter and three granddaughters.

“I love my granddaughters and spend as much time as I can with them.”

She goes to all of the girls’ activities and anything with which they are involved. She takes two of her granddaughters camping for a week each year at Allegany State Park and has gone to the park for over 40 years for a Columbus Day family picnic. About ten years ago, other family members showed an interest in camping with her.

“This year there will be 11-15 of us.”

Her son, his wife and daughters always make Christmas cookies with her and the group goes together to get their Christmas trees.

With her daughter, she made a cookbook for her son for a wedding gift. She contributes recipes from her family, a customer and a former neighbor, recipes her family enjoys. She named a snack cracker recipe Grandma’s Crackers, because her mother always served them at Christmas.

“Now I make them for everything.”

The Spinach Roll-Ups recipe was shared by a customer who has become a close friend.

“A neighbor of ours when I was growing up, made Sausage Rolls when he was a cook in the Army and my mother made them.”

VSK Emporium is located in Frewsburg at 54 W. Main St. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12-5 p.m. on Sunday. The emporium can be reached at 569-6547. The flea market can be found on Facebook. Smith also has a booth at Good As New at 5499 US Route 62, Conewango Valley.


2-3 lbs ground beef

1 can tomato soup

1/2 envelope taco seasoning mix

16 oz sour cream

2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Brown and drain beef. Stir in soup and seasoning. Spread in a shallow casserole. Top meat with sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.


Mix together:

1/2 c butter

1 egg

1/2 c milk

3/4 tsp vanilla

3/4 c sugar

2 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Fold in 2 cups blueberries. Combine and pour into greased pan. Top with a mixture of the following:

1/2 c flour

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c butter

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.


Mix together:

1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and well drained

1 c mayonnaise

8 oz sour cream

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 oz package ranch dressing mix

3 oz jar bacon bits

Stir together and spread evenly over 9 10-inch tortillas.

Roll up jelly roll fashion, pressing edge. Wrap in plastic wrap to seal. Chill 4 to 6 hours. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Yield 6 dozen.



(From my grandmother’s recipe box)

1 lb favorite sausage

3 1/2 c buttermilk baking mix

3/4 c water

1 lb grated cheddar cheese

Brown sausage and drain. Mix baking mix with water. Add sausage and cheese. Form into balls and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 60 balls.


2 1/4 c buttermilk baking mix

2/3 c milk

1 lb pork sausage

1 1/2 T chopped, dried onions

Mix baking mix with milk. Roll to about 1/4-inch thickness and score into 3 to 4-inch squares.

Mix sausage with dried onions. Form into oblong shapes and completely wrap in dough, opposite corner to corner.

Bake 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Best served warm.


1/4 c vegetable oil

4 oz pkg ranch dressing mix

1 1/2 T dried dill weed

1 pkg oyster crackers

Combine oil, dressing mix and dill weed. Place oyster crackers in a bowl or sealable bag. Pour mixture over crackers and toss or shake gently. Let sit for 24 hours.


1 pkg almond bark

3 c pretzels

4 c Cheerios

3 c Chex cereal

1 can mixed nuts or peanuts

In microwave melt 1 package almond bark. Pour over cereal mixture and gently fold until combined. Pour onto wax paper to cool. When cool lightly separate and put in airtight container. Add M&Ms before serving.


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