8 Reasons Why This Cooler Rules Them All

vintage camping cooler

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a photo I posted a week or so ago where the subject was this amazing late-1970s camping cooler covered in vintage bumper stickers. It’s arguably the coolest thing in my apartment right now. I did not thrift this, I finally got my mom to agree to let me have it. Turns out she was planning on dumping it at a thrift shop sooner or later, and I’m so glad I saved it from that fate. Because, this cooler? This cooler! It is a family artifact. It is older than me. Allow me to break it down for you why this thing rules Planet Cool.

anchorage alaska vintage bumper sticker

1. My parents got this cooler when they were going steady, before they were even engaged, actually. As the story goes, my dad bought it for all these camping trips that he and his eventual wife (my eventual mom) went on in the mid/late 1970s. There are photos of the two of them camping in California and in a couple shots there will be a corner or side of this very cooler in view. It’s just plain and brown and it looks kind of naked and awkward.

2. The stickers on this cooler both followed and predicted my life’s direction. How could my parents have known, as they slapped and smoothed the stickers over this blank metal canvas, that their daughter would one day visit or live in most of those places. Anchorage, Alaska? Check. Oregon? Check. Virginia? Check. And that’s just the first three.

new mexico alien sticker

3. Oh, and the Alaska Highway?  My parents drove that whole 1700-mile road in the 1970s, back when it was dirt and gravel and worth getting a braggy bumper sticker for. Years later, I rode shotgun with my dad in our VW Westfalia bus and traveled that same stretch of road with him. I had just turned thirteen. 

4. The New Mexico ‘Alien’ sticker. We briefly lived in Santa Fe in the early 1980s before my sister was born. I like that this is a play on the ‘Native’ version of this sticker. Stickers like this can say a lot of different things, but for me, it acknowledges that New Mexico has a complicated history regarding its residents, and that we most certainly were visitors, especially when considering the indigenous folks that populated the area long before white folks like us showed up.

vintage 1980s camping cooler

5. I grew up with this cooler. Here’s my sister (blue hoodie) and me (pink hoodie) eating what is most likely dry cereal in the mid-1980s, probably in a campground somewhere in Virginia. Who would have guessed that 30 years later, it would be sitting in my apartment, serving multiple purposes (none of which however involve keeping food cold).

vitnage thermos camping cooler bumper stickers

6. That Sundance sticker was really confusing to me as a pre-schooler. Who was that guy? Did we know him? I couldn’t read yet so the possibilities were pretty much endless.

1980s smokey the bear sticker

7. Oh, guess who the manufacturer of this cooler is? Thermos! Yup. Needless to say, this model was discontinued many years ago.

mt mckinley vintage bumper sticker

8. These days the cooler is sitting in my living room, serving as a little end table and doubling as a storage box for all the vintage hats for the shop. So if you ever buy a hat from me, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it was hanging out in the cooler before you bought it.

What I’m Wearing: Vintage Marimekko

marimekko maija isola dress

A couple of weeks ago, while on a sourcing adventure for the shop, I found this Marimekko dress. Arguably Finland’s most well-known design house, Marimekko was founded in the early 1950s and has been producing bold, colorful prints, textiles and products ever since. I could hardly believe my eyes when I found this cotton dress. It’s a simple exaggerated a-line shape with pleats just below the bustline. And there are no zippers or other closures, it just pulls on over your head, so it’s meant to fit a bit loosely.

vintage marimekko basso textile

vintage 1975 basso marimekko

vintage marimekko basso label

Here’s the cotton tag sewn into the back of the neck. Maija Isola was one of Marimekko’s most prolific and popular designers. Basso is the name of the textile pattern. ‘Basso’ means ‘bass’ in Finnish. Some quick internet sleuthing lead me to the conclusion that this print (and dress) is from the mid-1970s, most likely 1975. While being almost forty years old, this dress still looks completely modern. I may put it in the shop eventually, but not any time soon.

vintage 1970s marimekko cotton dress

I wore this beauty with some very old H&M earrings and Acne ‘Pistol’ boots.

September Update

I filled the shop up with so many great pieces for fall over the long weekend. Have a look, and click the titles for product details.

1950s red dress party belt

1950s red dress with black velvet swiss dots and matching belt

1940s wool suit

1940s checkered wool suit with belt

1950s black wool bead cardigan sweater jumper

1950s black wool beaded cardigan sweater

vintage brown wool felt hat bow

1950s wool felt hat with bow

1920s dress 20s dress black flapper dress vintage

1920s dress with lace collar

1950s suit 1960s suit mad men silk skirt suit secretary

classic mid century tailored skirt suit

1960s mod dress bow black white

1960s black wool dress with cream bow

1950s cowboy western pin brooch novelty red fence lasso

1950s cowboy novelty brooch

1950s formal party dress ballgown black orange prom new look

1950s formal party dress

1960s dress 1970s dress red white print day shirt dress

late 1960s rooster print dress

1970s suede patchwork skirt

1970s suede patchwork skirt

1920s black coat

1920s black coat

1970s 70s plaid wool skirt blue red

1970s plaid skirt

1950s dress tan blue floral flower print dress

1950s cotton day dress