VALPARAISO | A little shopping therapy might have been just what those suffering from the winter doldrums needed Saturday at the 29th annual Antique and Collectibles Show at the Porter County Expo Center.
The event, which continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, benefits Mental Health America of Porter County, now in its 59th year of service in the community, said Mary Hodson, executive director.
Hodson said the organization provides education, advocacy, resources, prevention and emergency assistance to those in Porter County suffering from mental illness.
The show’s turnout of 72 dealers was “huge,” said Hodson.
“The dealers are happy and they’re spreading the word,” said Hodson. “It is beautiful, it is unique, and it is original. Especially with the economy, people want unique gifts, and that’s what we’re seeing here.”
Vintage glassware, jewelry, coins, postcards, furniture, figurines, dolls, silver ware, buttons, and toys were among the treasures displayed in the main hall of the Expo Center.
“Everything is 'Downton Abbey,'” said Hodgson. “People want the 1920s and 1930s décor, and you can get the originals here.”
The fever for all things vintage fuels the organization’s programs, including the Open Door Social Club support group and Gift Lift, which provides Christmas presents to those suffering from mental illness “who otherwise would not have gifts,” said Hodson.
Hodson said her goal at the antique show is to raise $10,000 for the organization.
“Our community is so supportive,” said Hodson. “It’s an amazing project.”
Nancy Buchan makes new jewelry, bookmarks, hairclips and eyeglass cases from vintage beads, earrings, tie clips, Buffalo nickels and old bingo chips for her business Out of the Attic.
“At auctions, I see stray jewelry and broken pieces that nobody wants,” said Buchan, of Harvey, Ill. “Wherever there’s a little bit of bling ... this is my way of recycling.”
Buchan and her husband, Bob, have been “into” antiques and auctions for 20 years.
“I love it ... it’s my therapy,” said Nancy Buchan. “You can tell if I’m stressed because I make a lot of bracelets.”
Esther Bowen and friend Jeff Kaiser were shopping for oil cans, old tin signs and a top hat.
“We’ve been looking for a long time,” said Bowen, of Merrillville. “I like to look. ... I like a lot of things, honestly.”
Hodson said dealers look forward to the annual spring show.
“The dealers are fantastic,” said Hodson. “They sparkle and they’re happy and they feel good about the cause.”
As for the shoppers?
“We’re infusing mental wellness as they come through the door,” said Hodson.