Antiquing in Vancouver - Antique Row Revived
Antiquing has seen a much needed revival over the past year. The recession left many antique and *curio shops in the dust, closing doors that stood open for decades previous. Stores that proudly carried items from the depression era were seeing their own faltering economies make examples out of them in that one of the first things to go in challenging financial times are the luxuries. Collectors began selling off their treasures as opposed to adding to their collections resulting in a relentless buyer's market.
There have been small upward bounds in the industry but the biggest reason for the aforementioned revival has been the inception of everything antique into our day to day reality programming. The Antique Roadshow has long been a guilty TV pleasure for many but new programs such as Auction Hunters, Auction Kings, American (& Canadian) Pickers, Storage Wars and the massively popular Pawn Stars has attracted an even younger audience. All of a sudden it's cool to check the newspapers for Sunday afternoon yard sales in hopes of flipping a five dollar purchase into a fortune. Grandparents all over the country are getting far more frequent visits from the kids and grandkids whom after 30 minutes of small talk over coffee, tea and biscuits are found rummaging through their basements and attics, digging through trunks of old knick knacks and armoires, inspecting each for dates, serial numbers, and inscriptions that may indicate value. Antiquing is no longer only for pretentious monocle wearing aristocrats that consider Pottery Barn blasphemous. It has become a hipster historian hobby, creating vintage virtuosos and art of the deal thrill seekers, all who also now find Pottery Barn blasphemous.
This trend had become immediately evident after one afternoon spent browsing Vancouver's unofficial Antique Row on Main Street, primarily between 3000 and 4500 blocks. T-shirt and skinny jean clad individuals one would customarily see hunched over a laptop at Starbucks in addition to young couples and families with tots in hand now made up the entourage peeking through the creaking bell chiming doors of shops that once waxed geriatric. More conservative patrons were still found in the higher end stores marked by Victorian and Mid Century Art Deco decor but the places that saw the highest customer traffic included those that carried vintage tin Coca Cola signs that appeared purposefully and perfectly rusted as well as instruments, movie memorabilia, old toys, Shwinns, ship wheels, and strange artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th century.
If all of the above appeals to your senses or sounds like something you can get into we have provided a few of our favorite stores along Vancouver's reviving Antique Row for you to treasure hunt in or perhaps attempt to unload that ornate vase from your unwitting Grandmother's basement. Shame on you.
* Curio (wikipedia definition) - A strange and interesting object that invokes curiosity.
Old Stuff Two
4510 Main Street, Vancouver
This tiny shop might as well be a treasure chest as it is chock full of funky kibbles and bits of nostalgia. The store front window is marked by a massive button shaped Coco Cola sign and absolutely no indication of hours of operation. Be sure to hang around until opening to catch owner and operator Bob Blais making room to browse the interior by plopping some eye catching goods out on the sidewalk. We purchased (scored!) a 1927 vintage Royal Hawaiian Ukulele that our editor wont stop raving about from this location which is a testament to the fact that you never know what you will come across while cruising along Antique Row.
A Baker's Dozen
3520 Main Street, Vancouver
This store is a browsers haven with three jam packed rooms worth of memorabilia of a time passed. There is a noticeable concentration of marine based items (ship wheels, floatation rings, replica scale ship models, oars, etc...) particularly from the East Coast of Canada giving decorators with a penchant for beach/boating/lakeshore décor something to salivate about. Don't let this description pigeonhole the goods at A Baker's Dozen In any way as there is so much more to explore at this fantastic antique and curio shop.
3851 Main Street, Vancouver
A massive collector’s trunk from the 1800's, a barrel sized fierce looking tribal face carved from stone, and a heavy salt water beaten iron ship anchor lured us into Curios City where the friendly proprietor greeted us with open arms even though we stumbled in before the store officially opened. This close quartered shop is full of wondrous articles with history to match the aesthetic. Curios City is a definite must visit in the neighborhood.
J & J Antiques
4394 Main Street, Vancouver
J & J Antiques interior is ornate to say the least, both in decor and within the items that line (and climb) the walls of yet another eclectic collection along Antique Row. We were immediately enthralled by the always popular vintage Coca Cola merchandise up front as well as a cafe owner's dream coffee grinder that appeared to be restored in all of it's original early 20th century glory. The collection inside this store is culturally diverse spanning many time periods and genres and includes pieces perfect to complement Asian inspired home and businesses decor. J & J Antiques is also known to supply the Vancouver film industry in using antiques as prop pieces to validate the authentic look of movies taking place within specific time periods, so not only are you browsing items that span decades if not centuries, but they may also come with Hollywood credit too.
Alexander Lam Antiques (& Exotic World)
3271 Main Street, Vancouver
Alexander Lam Antiques appears as you end your journey (if moving towards downtown) along Antique Row. The collection appears to be very culturally themed with detailed wood carvings that tell tales of regional diversity. The most interesting aspect of Alexander Lam is the Exotic World "museum" found at the back of the store where the concept of curio (and downright weird) is taken to a whole other level.