September brings cool temperatures and a soft light quality that gently filters into our homes. The changing climate affects our cadences. Crisp autumn air triggers our nesting instincts. Some head to the kitchen to perfect a savory harvest recipe; others overhaul their homes and gardens with Herculean efforts, and some, like me, embark on antiquing adventures. Sure, it is easy to purchase items on the Internet but the brick and mortar approach to antique hunting is so much fun and makes for a great day trip or fall weekend-getaway.
Vintage treasures abound at a variety of venues including yard sales, flea markets, auctions, and antiques shops. Antique malls and multi-dealer markets rank among my favorite haunts. From New England to California, large industrial and commercial spaces have been repurposed with hundreds of booths that showcase endless varieties of furniture, collectibles, textiles, ephemera, architectural salvage, and found objects.
Most sellers at antiques malls and markets lend their personalities and expertise to their booths and it’s not uncommon to find a seller who specializes in particular items such as vintage textiles, art pottery or silver. Inventories are constantly being refreshed and prices are always negotiable. Some antique malls even offer layaway plans. The camaraderie among buyers and sellers is what I enjoy most when browsing through an antiques mall. It is so easy to strike up conversations and forge new friendships when the topic turns to antiques.
Here is a sampling of antiques malls and multi-dealer markets that are widely popular with treasure hunters and lovers of all things vintage. Also, each antiques mall owner shares their insights about which collectibles are hot in their region of the country.
New England Favorite
Founded in 2007, RI Antiques Mall has grown to be the highest volume antiques mall in New England. RIAM hosts over 200 independent dealers in its state-of-the-art facility and features everything from primitives to modernism under one roof. As a Rhode Islander, I frequent RIAM and have never left empty handed and always manage to find art pottery and Stickley furnishings to add to my collection.
RIAM owner Scott Davis says, “An interesting hot collectible in our region is an extremely rare, if not the only known example of a Landers, Frary & Clark floor model coffee grinder. This machine would have been found in a country store around the turn of the 20th century. Authentic country store collectibles are inherently rare — there was usually only one such store per small town and most equipment was used very hard and eventually discarded. Collectors enjoy the nostalgia and decorative appeal of these iconic objects from a time gone by.”
In the Heart of Texas
Antique Company Mall is located in the McKinney, Texas Historic District and is surrounded by a myriad of unique shops, boutiques and eateries. The circa 1900 Johnson Furniture Store was converted into an antiques mall in 1992. Karen Ferrell, Nancy Schwalls, and Nancy Davis own and operate the 15,000 square-foot space that houses more than 100 antiques dealers.
Karen Ferrell says, “The fantastic thing about shopping for your favorite collectibles in an antiques mall is the variety we supply and our inventory that changes daily. Hot collectibles in our region include ironstone, milk glass, advertising, coins, industrial and architectural details. Architectural details such as light fixtures, doors, windows, shutters, pediments, railings are all things a decorator’s dreams are made of and they fly out our doors.
Karen explains, “These popular items will help you achieve the look of a farmhouse, industrial, Mid Century modern, Victorian or whatever style you want. We hear customers refer to architectural items using descriptive phrases like chippy peely or rusty crusty and those are good things.”
The Windy City
BAM is the largest multi-dealer antiques market in Chicago and boasts 75 dealers occupying 20,000 square feet of space. Duane Scott Cerny and Jeffrey Nelson teamed up in 1990 to open their first store. Their business quickly grew and they had to rent additional storefronts to meet the demand of their young, design-oriented customers. In 1998, they acquired their current location, a landmark furniture store located in Chicago’s far north side.
Duane Scott Cerny says, “BAM is very much an antique department store, as we try to carry most everything. In fact, we were one of the first multi-dealer stores to develop theme showcases. For example, men’s cufflinks are a very strong seller, so rather than having our customers be forced to hunt for them in this expansive store, we have one large showcase of cufflinks, representing every BAM dealer who carries them. Recently we’ve started a religious showcase, as many young people collect religious pieces for both personal passion and decor. Other theme cases include cocktail, Scandinavian design, Chicago memorabilia, photography, etc. Basically, whenever we see a strong trend, we introduce a showcase to highlight some.”
According to Duane, Mid Century Modern designs are highly sought after in the Chicago area. Duane says, “Mid Century wall units fly out the door. We sell them as quickly as we can assemble them. Mid Century Modern Furnishings are our strong suit and popular items include sideboards/credenzas, dressers/highboys, cocktail tables and practical useable pieces. If they have a name, even better. Also, anything made of teak or Lucite. Chicago is a very sophisticated market. In fact, many New York designers fly into town just to shop BAM, and then head right back to the airport. Needless to say, we are shipping items daily.”
The Sherman Oaks Antique Mall is one of the oldest and best loved antique malls in the Los Angeles area. Since 1982, 100 quality antique dealers have made this the most interesting antique store in California to buy and sell antiques and jewelry.
Owner Janice Johnson says, “Antique Buyers from around the world return time after time to shop our eclectic mix of antiques, vintage decor and our notable selection of estate, antique and vintage jewelry. You’ll find all styles from the 19th and 20th century, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, and Mid Century Modern and Kitsch.”
Regarding hot collectibles, Janice says, “Since dealers and collectors come from around the globe to shop our extensive selection of jewelry, I’d like to point out that indigenous culture items are very hot right now. Especially desirable is the old pawn jewelry pieces of sterling and turquoise from the Navaho and Hopi American Indians.”
So this fall, why not add to an existing collection or start a new collection. Adventure awaits you at antique malls and markets.
To read about our rejuvenation of an 1811 Federal in Newport, RI visit www.homesofthebrave.wordpress.com