I used to hate antique stores.
My mom loves antique stores. She likes scouring them for good deals on green depression glass dishes or Franciscan Desert Rose dinnerware or Roseville pottery. She likes looking for old pieces of turquoise jewelry because now days, it’s all fake and the stone isn’t big enough.
I hated antique stores because as a small, rambunctious child, I broke things very easily, and being surrounded by small, breakable, expensive things in old, cluttered, musty smelling shops where the wrinkled owners side-eyed me was. not. fun.
But hey, something must have changed because this last weekend, my mom and I visited six antique stores. See, I signed a lease for an apartment last week, so now I’m in the conundrum where I have to furnish it. My mom doesn’t believe in new furniture, because it’s too big and all made of particle board and veneer and oh my god, don’t get her started on the stupid wood composite crap they’re making tables out off, and so we went antiquing.
Like old times, I got lost in two of them and had to yell out for my mom (or listen and wait for her to yell out to me), and I still was scared when we walked in between the glass cases of super breakable and expensive things, but—and this is the new and important bit—I had fun.
My mom has a mentality that you buy the sad looking but solid pieces, and then give them to her fixer (a man who works at church with her) to refurbish. The challenge, however, is differentiating the “sad looking but solid” pieces from the “sad looking and just terrible” pieces. My mom was really good at finding the ones with good bones, I was really good at finding the stuff that was actually just irredeemable.
At the fourth place, Odana Antiques, I got lost. But my mom found me, and some solid oak chairs that we got—get this—for $22 each. (Also, it is apparently super easy to reupholster them, because my mom has six just like them and she reupholstered them all the time because my brothers and I “fed our butts” when we were growing up.)
It was, according to my mom and the man who’s booth (Booth 68, if you were wondering) the chairs were from, an “absolute steal.”
After they were done talking about my chairs, they started talking about Arts and Crafts style mission oak furniture and I wandered off and got lost in the direction of the coffee nook, because I have not been in the game long enough to understand that kind of stuff.
But the thing is, it isn’t just the prices that are cool with antiques (because sometimes the prices are seriously uncool). What is cool is the history the pieces hold. My mom could tell the decade, the type of home it was made for, where it was made, all based on how it was built and finished. (She’s is a bit of a Hoosier elitist when it comes to hutches, I learned.)
If eight-year-old me could hear me now, she’d feel so betrayed, but I love antique stores.
Also, my mom and I were in such an antiquing mentality that when we visited Grandma in her memory care facility, both of us scoped out the furniture in the resident’s room when we walked around. Phylis has a gorgeous dresser, FYI.