Deciding on the antiques capitol of Washington might be compared to an
ill-prepared schoolboy attempting to recall that state’s capital city
(the correct answer is Olympia). Several Washington towns lay claim to
the antiques-capitol title, and have the credentials to support it.
Vie for Antiques Capitol Recognition
Ten miles east of Tacoma is Puyallup, which was founded in 1877, a
dozen years before Washington was admitted to the Union. The town is
named for the Puyallup Indians, who lived in the surrounding valley.
The community’s historic downtown is home to seven antique shops and
Linda and Stan Febus opened Cabbages & Kings Antiques downtown at
110 S Meridian St a year ago, after operating an antique mall on the
outskirts of town before that. “We try to have something for everyone.
We have some nice high end furniture… and a little primitive and shabby
chic,” said Linda, who continually adapts their inventory to public
demand. “We’re always guessing what they want,” she said.
The Puyallup Antique District Association’s advertisements on
televisions, in newspapers, and in trade publications, attract many
customers from out of town, said Febus. A free walking map of the
district guides visitors to the attractions. “All but one of the
antique stores is within a five-minute walk,” she said.
Around the corner, at 110 W Main St, is Kings Row Antiques, which
Debbie and Stan Torgerson opened four years ago. Debbie described their
business as a traditional antique store. “We like to interact with the
public We like the old fashioned way, “ she said, adding that they
never sell on eBay.
Kings Row inventory includes glass, pottery, jewelry, linens and
furniture. “We like unusual things and specialize in unique items
nobody else can find,” said Debbie, who hopes to rebound in 2007 from
an off year.
Certain to draw more antique buyers to Puyallup is Palmer Wirfs &
Associates antique show, formerly held at the Tacoma Dome. The
500-space show was held at Western Washington Fairgrounds for the first
time in November and will return February 3-4, 207.
“It’s a more convenient location with free parking for exhibitors and
customers and easier access to the facility itself. It just worked as a
better facility for a small to medium size antique show,” said Chuck
Palmer, the husband of the show promoter Christ Palmer.
Another of Palmer Wirfs’ events, which are named America’s Largets
Antique & Collectibles Shows, is held annually at the Clark County
Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall in Vancouver WA. This year’s 480-space show
took place over the weekend of Jan 13-14.
Centralia, midway between Portland and
Seattle, has a concentration of antique shops in its business district,
but none is larger than Centralia Square Antique Mall. Approximately 85
dealers rent space on three levels of the former Elks Lodge, a Mission
Revival edifice built in 1920. Centralia Square Antique Mall, 201 S
Pearl St, opened in 1986 after the Elks migrated to a new grounds.
Antique furniture fills the ballroom on the upper level. General
antiques and collectables take up the first floor. The Collector’s
Bookstore and additional dealer spaces comprise the mezzanine level.
Berry Fields Café is open during the mall’s business hours.
“The mall is noted for its glass-
Depression and Elegant- as well as pottery. People come from al over
the United States mainly for our glass,” said manager Connie Mullins.
Carl Smith opened Antique Liquidators in Seattle on June 9, 1970, with
$389.50 in capital. Today it is a multimillion dollar business dealing
mainly in furniture, which he imports from England, Denmark, Belgium,
and Indonesia. Smith said the Seattle market is strong for affordably
priced vintage furniture. “Its hard to compete against a beautiful 1910
piece of oak furniture from England or America. The quality is there,”
he said. About 5 percent of pieces he sells are reproductions from
India. “There are some things you’re just not going to get in the
antique trade, which you can pick up easily in the reproduction
business,” he said.
About 70 percent of Antique Liquidators’ sales are to retail customers
at the store at 503 Westlake Ave, five minutes north of downtown. Smith
maintains an additional warehouse location for wholesale customers.
Snohomish, 30 miles north of Seattle,
has an historic waterfront business district, where about 500 dealers
showcase their wares in three antique malls and numerous shops. Star
Center Mall, 829 2nd St, which occupies a 1920s armory at the east end
of Snohomish’s antique district, opened in 1982 and is home to about
“It was the first antique mall of our
size in the Northwest,” said Tim Regan, who bought the business with
his wife, Holly, in 2003. The mall carries a broad range of high-end
glass and pottery, artwork, ephemera, militaria, primitives.
The Regans do no not allow
reproductions or new merchandise to be sold at their mall. They even
guarantee the authenticity of what they sell. “We’ve found that as long
as we police our shelves well it doesn’t occur very often, but when it
does we take care of it,” said Tim.
Star Center Mall has a reference
library consisting of hundreds of books, which are available for public
use and for sale. “We have a lot of folks who bring collectibles to the
mall and we help them figure out what they have by going through the
book,” said Regan. Collector’s Choice restaurant is also located at
Star Center Mall.
Spokane, nearly 300 miles inland, boasts numerous antique malls and
unusual shops. Among the larger establishments is Vintage Rabbit
Antique Mall, 2317 Monroe St. Owner Jan Richart started out small 12
years ago and steadily expanded the store. She eventually bought the
building, which is home to 30 dealers. Vintage Rabbit Antique mall
adheres to a 1960s or older timeline to promote higher-quality
merchandise, which ranges from furniture to smalls.
Finders Keepers was repeatedly voted Spokane’s best antique store in
various consumer polls, but owner Deena Caruso began specializing in
vintage jewelry when its sales surpassed that of her other merchandise.
“It just kept selling, so I kept reinvesting in the jewelry,” said
Caruso. Today, Finders Keepers Jewelry Galore features Spokane’s
largest selection of vintage jewelry. Organized according to type, era,
and color, sections include Victorian, vintage rhinestone, old Mexican
sterling, ‘50s plastic, vintage metals from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and
men’s jewelry. Caruso employs designers who create unique earrings from
old pieces of jewelry.
“I hear people from all over who say they’ve never seen anything like
the store,” said Caruso, whose background is in marketing and retail.
Finders Keepers is located in a 100-year-old storefront at 112 S Cedar
St, in an historic district west of downtown known as Browne’s
Addition. Caruso opened Finders Keepers Fashion Flashback in an
adjoining storefront in September, specializing in vintage clothing.
Caruso said 2006 was an outstanding year for her business, with sales
up 20 percent over the previous year.
Debbie Roffler describes her Main Street Antiques as a colorful
Bohemian type of store. “We have a lot of ethnic pieces from around the
world, one of a kind things. There’s a lot of Native American, a lot of
Persian rugs. It’s not a typical antique store. When people walk in
they say ‘Oh my…,’”said Roffler, one of four dealers who sell there.
Main Street Antiques is located at 7 W Main St at the corner of
Division Ave in an old hotel that had been a mission house. “The
neighborhood has changed a lot in the last five years since I bought
the building. A lot of people have been moving into the neighborhood
and cleaning up. It’s a f un little neighborhood now with artsy and
funky little shops and restaurants,” said Roffler. Main Street
Antiques’ proximity to the Spokane Convention Center and nearby hotels
brings in many customers from out of town. “Don’t miss us,” said
Macon Brothers Auctioneers of Walla Walla celebrated its 100th year
anniversary of sorts last year. While Doug and Mike Macon founded Macon
Brothers Auctioneers in 1975, their grandfather, Daniel Francis Macon,
started an auction service in Washington, Iowa, in 1906. Mike Macon
retired in 1998, but Doug’s 22 year old auctioneer daughter, Emily
Macon, is already a veteran on the team. She attended auctioneer school
at age 16.
The Macons are busy conducting farm, industrial and bankruptcy court
auctions. They move most of their auctions to a modern facility at
Walla Walla Regional Airport. “This past year we did two auctions
facilitated by Proxibid. Those sales had things we thought would be of
more national interest than just local,” said Doug Macon, adding that
their company’s biggest growth last year was in real estate auctions.
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