Why should you head to the tiny town of Milton, West Virginia (population 2,517), this weekend? Because it’s the home of Blenko Glass. The name might not be quite as famous as Tiffany, but the Southern company’s colorful hand-blown glassware is more popular with collectors than ever—with entire websites devoted to the practice. And this weekend, the family-run outfit—located in Milton since 1921—will host its annual Warehouse Sale (March 19-26), which means you can pick up Blenko glasses, bowls, vases, decanters, and more for a fraction of the regular sticker price. Most pieces are marked down between thirty and seventy percent. And there are more than six thousand items to choose from.
Though Blenko has been around since 1893, the Warehouse Sale is a 21st century add-on. Throughout the year, the company’s thirty glassmakers—many of whom are second- and third-generation Blenko craftsmen—work on various special orders and limited editions in addition to the regular line. If a particular order calls for, say, a hundred vases in tangerine—one of Blenko’s signature colors—the glassmakers create twenty extra vases as insurance against minor flaws or breakage. (Glass is fragile, after all.) The leftovers then languish in the warehouse. Eight years ago, though, the folks at Blenko decided it was shame for those beautiful creations to gather dust. So they launched the Warehouse Sale.
If you go this weekend, arrive early. (Doors open on Saturday at 9 a.m.) The first day of the sale typically attracts upwards of 1,500 people. Blenko’s classic water carafe is easily the most popular item. Introduced in 1938, the carafe was dreamed up in-house, before the company began hiring full-time designers, and was made slim to fit inside the door of the first iceboxes and refrigerators of the mid-20th century. It’s been a best-seller ever since.
And even though the idea of water chilled without ice is no longer a novelty, the carafes still make for a welcome touch on a guestroom nightstand or on the kitchen counter with a bunch of flowers tucked inside as a vase. Blenko produces 1,300 colors, from crystal to cobalt to clover, so you’re sure to find one that fits your home.