To some, it’s trash, and to others, it’s treasure. But to a large group somewhere in the middle, antiques are reminders of fond memories and reflections of simpler times.
Crown Point is home to a plethora of antique dealers, who have found the perfect home to sell relics of the past to amateur antique hunters, professional “pickers,” or those simply looking for something from a bygone generation. Every lamp, chair, postcard and doll found within the walls of an antique store has a story, and no one knows that more than these treasure seekers.
The ‘New’ Antiques
Whatever the motivation, antiquing is nothing new, and several Crown Point stores and vendors have been in business for decades. What customers see as antiques, however, has evolved, says Aria Manalan, a clerk and booth owner at the Crown Point Antique Mall.
The mall, located on the south side of the historic Crown Point Court House square, has more than 80 dealers and three floors of antiques. While previous generations have enjoyed scooping up a custom-made desk or vintage jewelry, more recent generations are looking for toys and other items they–or their parents–enjoyed as children.
“Younger people want retro ’50s and up,” says Manalan, who has worked at the antique store for more than 22 years. “They don’t care for older turn-of-the-century stuff. Fewer and fewer dealers are offering the older stuff and more are offering newer items.”
Of course newer is subjective when talking about antiques, she notes, pointing out that many of the newer items for sale are still 50 to 60 years old. For current generations, however, they are relics from a lifetime ago.
“First we saw customers with their children, and now we see them with their grandchildren,” Manalan says. “We like it when they bring in youngsters and become appreciative of older things.”
One of the most popular antiques younger generations are seeking are old vinyl records, she says. “Companies are even making record players to play the vinyl records again.”
Shopping for Memories
Often, current generations will explore the halls of antique stores, stopping to check out sports memorabilia or artifacts from past wars–but not always for particular items.
“Shoppers come in to rediscover Grandma’s treasures and bring home memories,” says Loretta Bryan Nosal of Antiques on Main. With just over 10,000 square feet and 70 dealers, the antique store contributes to Crown Point’s reputation as an antique shopper’s dream.
In business for eight years, Antiques on Main positions itself to appeal to seasoned antiquers as well as casual shoppers. Although it offers several unusual items like a camel saddle, a Fiji mermaid skeleton from an early 20th-century sideshow and a prop tommy gun, the store also offers new and repurposed items–from painted furniture to custom-designed items using reclaimed materials.
Adapting to customers’ needs is what helps make the downtown square of Crown Point–and the antique stores that dot the landscape around it–an attraction to visitors from across state lines and beyond, says Robert Radzinski, owner of Blue Pear.
Although Radzinski says Blue Pear has never been a true antique store because he mostly offers home décor and gift items, he has found a way to appeal to those looking for rare finds. “As a shopkeeper and interior designer, I’ve always incorporated some antiques or vintage items into my work,” he says. “Sometimes I see an old, chippy item and I know instantly how I can incorporate it into a display of brand new merchandise.”
Decorating with vintage items has been a big trend, he says, but rather than traditional, formal antiques, he’s seeing customers gravitate toward items with a rustic finish. “Architectural salvage still remains very popular with customers, as do industrial and farmhouse styles,” Radzinski says. “It’s all about the balance–somebody may have a contemporary kitchen, but then they want to add vintage industrial stools at the counter.”
Another style he sees might include pairing a new linen sofa with an old barn wood coffee table. “A well-designed room should appear as if it evolved over time, and juxtaposing the old with the new is the best way to accomplish that,” he says.
For Crown Point shop owners, both returning customers and new visitors offer a variety of preferences and wish lists. “There are those who have very specific tastes and they know exactly what they’re looking for, and oftentimes they’re looking to add to an existing collection,” Radzinski says. “Then there are those customers who stroll through the downtown shops with the hope of discovering something totally unexpected.”