Every piece passes along a bit of history
s long as I can remember, I've loved old stuff. For that I thank my mother's parents, my beloved Nanny and Pappy. Living through the Great Depression imposed on them a lifelong sense of frugality. They rarely got rid of anything that could still be useful - in any way. My Nanny's motto summed it up: "It won't eat nor drink anything sitting on the shelf."
My grandparents' house brimmed with objects saved from a by-gone age and used every day. From the claw-foot cast-iron bathtub to the ancient wringer washer, their home was a living museum. I adored everything about it.
Now that my grandparents are gone, I've discovered that antiques give me a tangible link to those two people that I loved so much. I've found comfort and I feel connected to them by surrounding myself with their old possessions. Old-time goods call to me, too.
NBT writer Kim Cammarata shows her finds, at right:
Every time I stir a pot on the stove with my Nanny's old wooden spoons, I feel her pride in teaching me to cook. Every time I smooth onto my bed an old chenille bedspread like the ones Nanny once used, I'm a child again handing her clothespins while she hangs out the wash. Every time I touch a shaving cup and brush at an antique store, I see my Pappy stropping his straight razor and smell his after-shave.
It's not only people I knew and loved that I revisit. Owning antiques gives me the privilege of sustaining a spark of other souls whose fire has long since faded. At a tiny antique shop several years ago, I bought an old, beautifully crafted locket. Nestled inside were very old photographs of two children. I've never removed these pictures; I empathize with the unknown woman who loved these children and held them close to her heart. In memory of that woman and in tribute to her devotion, I will treasure and preserve her locket exactly how I found it.
I feel this way about all antiques. The hands that once touched them, the minds that once enjoyed them and the hearts that once loved them have imbued these objects with a life energy that stretches across generations.
I'm not an expert on antiques, and I won't pretend to be. I'm just a person who loves old stuff and who has enjoyed shopping in countless antique stores over the years.
With the holiday season approaching, shopping is on many minds as we contemplate the perfect gifts for our family and friends. Perhaps this year you'd like to forgo a few trips to the inevitably crowded retail malls and try a refreshing alternative: antique shops. You'll bestow more than just a present; you'll pass along a little bit of history.
Here's a sampling of antique stops and shops along the Bay. From Annapolis to Solomons Island, each has its own charm.
Joy Street Antiques and Collectibles
Tired of the hustle and bustle of downtown Annapolis? Then hop on over to West Annapolis and check out Joy Street Antiques and Collectibles. Joy Street resides in a charming yellow house with a front porch on Annapolis Street, a small, old-fashioned byway that invites leisurely strolling. A total of three antiques stores, a framing shop that also carries antiques and a restaurant make this locale a worthy destination.
It's just that feeling that drew owner Joy Mullikin to join the Annapolis Street community just over a year ago. "It's a great little street. The locals shop here. It's close to downtown, yet it's out of the congestion. Once you're here, you certainly have a lot to do."
Joy Street is a multi-dealer shop. Mullikin sells her own merchandise and also rents space to about 15 other dealers. "I keep a good variety of dealers so there's something for everybody," she says.
Mullikin herself specializes in architectural elements such as fireplace mantles, stained glass and columns. An avowed antique lover, she enjoys seeking out furniture and lusterware for her own collection. Some of these items find their way into her store when she tires of them or needs space at home for other treasures of old.
Inside these bright and airy rooms, you'll also find attractive and orderly displays of hand-painted furniture, glassware, vintage clothing and much more. One of Mullikin's dealers specializes in old, but not antique, rugs. Upstairs an expert restores, repairs and sells antique clocks.
Proudly displayed for sale in a glass case are a few oyster plates, which are highly collectible. Mullikin offers a tip for oyster plate aficionados: "The Fisherman's Inn on Rt. 50 has an amazing collection on display."
Visit Joy Street Antiques and Collectibles and enjoy an old-fashioned shopping experience.
Featherstone Square Antique Mall
Set aside a whole day to enjoy Featherstone Square Antique Mall & Collectibles. You'll need that much time to explore the offerings of over 155 different dealers in 26,000 square feet of space. The combination of long operating hours and a wealth of customer-friendly features at this antique mall make spending a whole day here not only possible but downright pleasant.
Owner Ronald Jemal considered the needs of a day-long shopper when designing this enterprise. Public restrooms offer the obvious advantage. A snack bar - serving light fare such as salads, hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, coffee and fruit drinks - will open soon. Store manager Cynthia Davis says customers can "shop one end of the mall, sit and have a cup of coffee and something to eat, then hit the other side."
Customer service buttons, located along the aisles in every color-coded section, eliminate the need to trudge all over the store searching for a sales assistant. If you have a question or need a showcase opened, simply push the nearest button. A loudspeaker will broadcast, 'Customer needs assistance at Metallic Silver. Location number two.' A member of the sales staff will come to you.
Rustic fencing and signs clearly separate each dealer's space, which can be personalized any way that a dealer likes. One dealer has transformed his space into a living room - green painted 'walls,' crown molding and chair rail complete the illusion. Another dealer has turned her booth of vintage clothing and related items into an old-fashioned parlor.
Featherstone Square Antique Mall & Collectibles combines the individuality of small shops with the convenience and selection of an antique mall. Here you'll find an excellent selection of goods - from 1950s' kitsch to elegant period furniture, beautiful estate jewelry to vintage gas pumps. The inventory is so huge and varied, according to Davis, that even interior decorators and set designers from the film industry have been shopping here.
Enjoy a day of complete shopping bliss at Featherstone Square Antique Mall & Collectibles.
Muddy Creek Antiques, Auction Sales & Appraisers
Muddy Creek Antiques, situated beside the Harwood Post Office, looks like a tiny shop from the outside. Inside, the place seems to stretch forever. Three floors encompass 9,000 square feet of floor space full of just about any kind of antique you can imagine.
Owners Roz and Walt Gompers have been in the antiques business for six years, but Roz has loved antiques all her life. "I grew up going to farm auctions and stuff. I've always been a collector," she proclaims.
Roz enthusiastically collects pickle castors, and she's well versed in everything worth knowing about them. A pickle castor, according to Roz, is an ornate serving dish, popular in the 1880s to the turn of the century, that was used to serve pickles. They're comprised of a glass insert supported by a silver-plated holder and also include a silver-plated top and serving tongs.
The Gompers, both certified appraisers, continually add to their already vast knowledge of antiques by researching, reading trade magazines and networking with other experts. They're a great source not only for appraisals but also for expert advice on the care and maintenance of your antiques and for referrals to other dealers.
In addition to the Gompers' own offerings, Muddy Creek Antiques sells merchandise from a variety of dealers, each expert in their particular niche. Roz explains the benefits of having these dealers on board: "People who specialize are wonderful. A person that has costume jewelry or advertisements, that's all they do. They're very knowledgeable in that. Muddy Creek wants to have that type of dealer."
Goodies cover every horizontal surface in this store. You could spend a whole day here and still not see everything. Ask the sales staff if you can't find what you're looking for. Roz says they know the merchandise and can find anything in the store.
Another arm of the Gompers' business, Muddy Creek Auction, holds general consignment auctions, liquidating entire households, as well as antique auctions.
Stop in Muddy Creek Antiques for expert advice and a great selection of antiques for every budget.
4452 Solomons Island Rd., Harwood
Genuine Old Stuff, Antiques & Eclectic Necessities
Genuine Old Stuff proprietor Cheryl W. Jackson enjoyed shopping for antiques so much, she decided to shop for other people too. If you're looking for something in particular, give Jackson a call. "That's one thing I like to do in this business. I really, really like the shopping," she says.
This shop is small and crowded in a cozy way. Fittingly, Genuine Old Stuff contains a good bit of old-fangled children's furniture and toys as well as down-scale furniture. Previous circumstances led Jackson to stock up on these items. "One room I rented [to sell antiques] was very small with slanted ceilings. I couldn't really put big furniture in there, so I started buying children's stuff," she says. "I'm finding that it sells very well, so I think I'll keep buying kids' stuff."
The down-scale furniture sells well, reasons Jackson, because so many people in the Bay area live in small cottage-style homes and don't have room for large appointments. "I get a lot of requests for smaller tables, vanities, dressers. Nothing too big," she says.
Jackson also buys and sells primitive furniture. Primitive, she explains "refers to furniture as early as late 1700s into the 1800s. It wasn't the elegant upper end, but it was well-made. It was typically painted," she explains. "Today we use that term for what I would call country-made furniture or furniture made on the farm. People have taken old material and, out of necessity, made dressers, farm tables, benches or whatever."
For any little old thing you desire, drop by Genuine Old Stuff.
The Black-Eyed Susan Shop
Outside the front door of The Black-Eyed Susan Shop sits an old-time wooden chair commode, the kind with a hole in the seat that once gave access to a long-gone chamber pot beneath. Plopped into this hole is a big container of mums. Obviously, someone here has a good sense of humor.
Inside, owner Valerie Cofod and a friend laughed and chatted together while Cofod talked about her start in the antiques business. "I wanted to do a little shop, a boutique. A little antique mall opened near me. I looked at it and thought, 'I could do this,'" Cofod explains.
For 10 years now, she's sold antiques from her current location on Shady Side Road, just a stone's throw from Jackson's brand-new Genuine Old Stuff. The Black-Eyed Susan Shop is inconspicuous, sporting in the window a small identifying sign nearly invisible from the road. Look for the tall, rustic pole with antiques printed vertically down the length of it that marks the entrance to the parking lot.
Once you find the place, step inside to find a variety of mostly small antiques. Cofod also sells some furniture, including pieces painted in a garden theme by a local artist. Cofod buys almost exclusively from individuals who come to her with antiques to sell. The Black-Eyed Susan Shop doesn't specialize in any particular thing; Cofod sells any good stuff that comes in the door.
The main room of this shop displays a selection of glassware. Don't miss the small box of vintage ladies' hankies - cotton and silk, plain and fancy - all $10 or less. A back room houses lots of kitchenware such as utensils, cream pitchers and old bottles. Step into the side room for new gift items like birdhouses and dried flowers. The next room has a heap of reasonably priced linens to look through. Not fancy ones, pressed and on hangers. Just a nice jumble of linens made with fine fabric, most with hand-stitched embroidery, that you can use everyday.
Pay a visit to The Black-Eyed Susan Shop for fun shopping and good prices.
Bay Avenue Antiques
Located just a block from the Chesapeake Bay, Bay Avenue Antiques' pale yellow and green exterior is fresh as an after-dinner mint. Inside, ceiling fans help create an atmosphere as sweet as a breeze off the Bay.
Owner Joanne Fayette was destined to become an antiques dealer. "When I was a kid, I saved all my toys thinking they were going to be worth something someday," Fayette says. "I would come home from college with my car packed with old stuff. People were throwing away perfectly good stuff. I felt I had to save it. I couldn't let something go to the dump."
Bay Avenue Antiques features Fayette's own line of antiques plus those from several other dealers. Mission, Victorian and primitives are just part of the large selection of furniture here. Vintage mirrors reflect from the walls.
One corner of the shop houses a variety of flower frogs - mounded discs of glass and similar materials, generally about three inches in diameter and a few inches high, with holes all over the rounded surface. Fayette offers a mini history lesson: "In the Victorian era, flowers and gardens were a source of prestige. They did a lot of gardening. Flower frogs were made to sit in a vase and hold flowers in place." The flower frogs for sale here are made of pottery, glass and jadeite.
Another corner displays toys, dolls, doll clothes and related items. Display cases house costume jewelry and other small collectibles. Overall, you'll find a well-rounded selection of wares at Bay Avenue Antiques.
Fayette headed off on other career tracks before returning to her first love: old stuff. Now she enjoys everything about the antiques business, especially interacting with the people who visit her store. "I love talking with people and helping people if they need knowledge. It beats a desk job," she laughs.
Stop by Bay Avenue Antiques for recycled treasures.
Nice and Fleazy Antiques
Everything about Nice and Fleazy Antiques - located just across the street from Bay Avenue Antiques - is elegant, dignified and serene. Stand outside the main entrance and look at the rhythmic swelling of Chesapeake Bay. Step through the door into a stream of calming classical music. Then take a moment to admire the beautiful arrangement of fine antiques in totality.
Grand oaken Victorian furniture arranged on attractive rugs create virtual rooms in the wide-open space. Gracing the furniture are smaller items placed with a loving hand. The overall impression is of touring a private home, albeit a home crowded with extraordinary belongings.
Proprietor Dale Thomas likewise exudes tranquillity. A sort of holistic life philosopher, Thomas also conducts free classes in which participants learn to become attuned more to their feelings and less to their intellect: 'living in the now.'
In his soothing voice, Thomas explains that his greatest joy in owning this antique store for the past 25 years has nothing to do with antiques: "It isn't the things that resonate with me. It's the people who come to share their experiences with the things."
Thomas rents space to a few other dealers, making for a well-rounded selection of wares. In addition to the oak furniture, a few notable selections include Roseville pottery, vintage beaded and mesh purses, costume jewelry, nautical items, Native American artifacts and sharks' teeth.
Nice and Fleazy wins the vote for most amusing shop name. Thomas explains it: "When we opened we were a combination antique store and flea market. Over the years, we tried to weed out the fleas and get better things. But we still have fun with that name."
Call on Nice and Fleazy Antiques for a truly gracious shopping experience.
Bowen's Garage Antique Center
At Bowen's Garage Antique Center, the antique experience begins the minute you pull into the parking lot. That's because this antique center occupies the remnants of an old-fashioned gas station. The pumps are long gone, but stepping into the shade of the carport in the front of the building you can almost smell the gasoline and hear tools clanking.
Once inside, you'll find five rooms filled with antiques. Bowen's Garage Antique Center houses four different dealers, each providing a different flavor to satisfy a variety of tastes. Manager Jim Tettimer also offers some antiques for sale, according to resident dealer Virginia Gorman.
Gorman tended the shop while explaining why dealing in antiques is a rewarding experience for her. "It's exciting when somebody takes home something beautiful," she says. Among other things, Gorman tries to maintain a good selection of Flow Blue, English Blue Willow and other fine porcelains. Gorman herself collects interesting antique dinner plates. She decorated an entire wall in her house with her eclectic collection.
Fine antique furniture, Depression glass and vintage clothing and accessories are just a few of the artfully displayed items that await the antique lover here. Admire the selection of antique quilts as well as the handmade stuffed animals crafted from salvaged bits of old quilts. Nice area rugs arranged on the floor add a warm, homey touch.
Gorman reminds old and new customers alike that Bowen's Garage Antiques Center will be continuing its tradition of serving pumpkin muffins and hot cider during the Antique Dealers of Calvert County's annual Antique Christmas Festival on Dec. 5 & 6.
Pull up to Bowen's Garage Antiques Center and fill up your shopping bags.
Southern Maryland Antique Center
Southern Maryland Antique Center proprietors Jackie and Ron Smith aim to make their customers happy. Throughout the year, the Smiths call upon a network of specialty dealers to participate in seminars and demonstrations - from Civil War memorabilia to vintage radios, antique quilts to Depression glass - designed to educate their customers. These events often include free appraisals of related items.
Several of these specialty dealers are located on the premises at Southern Maryland Antique Center. Within these walls you'll find experts on clocks, jewelry, decoys and textiles. Two experienced antique quilt dealers - Ken True and Maggie Mattia - buy, sell and appraise old quilts. Mattia also repairs antique quilts with the help of her vintage fabric stockpile. Between the two of them, you'll usually find about 50 different pre-1940s quilts to choose from.
Ron Smith periodically offers furniture refinishing demonstrations and advice. "Customers furnish me with a piece to work on, and I'll take out water stains or whatever," he explains. In fact, Ron says he's "willing to talk about it any old time." Just call ahead to make sure he'll be around the shop when you visit.
To learn more about special events at Southern Maryland Antique Center throughout the year, follow their ad in New Bay Times, stop by the store for a flyer or call.
Southern Maryland Antique Center contains a total of about 15 different dealers, including the Smiths, offering a diverse selection of antiques. You'll find an excellent array of period furniture as well as crystal, china, porcelain and much more. Don't miss the showcase full of exquisite Victorian jewelry.
The Smiths discourage reproductions in their shop. Accidents do occur though, so Jackie Smith promises, "When you buy something from us and the tag says that it's a certain age - and it's not - then bring it back and you'll get your money back."
Satisfy your mind and soul with a visit to the friendly folks at Southern Maryland Antique Center.
Chesapeake MarketPlace - formerly Chesapeake Flea Market - arose like a phoenix from the ashes of a failed family business and hasn't looked back since. Six years ago, owners Kay and Larry Forman, desperately looking for some way to salvage the remains of their doomed lumber yard, started hosting a flea market on its grounds.
"When the lumber yard failed we ended up doing flea market, anything we could do to survive," explains Kay Forman. "I kept getting nicer things, and my vendors started taking a real interest in their shops. All of a sudden, we had a full-fledged antique place."
Looking around at Chesapeake MarketPlace's seven buildings on a five-acre spread, you can see the roots of the lumber yard onto which this new venture has been so successfully grafted: sheds transformed into shops, a barn matured into a cottage, the warehouse became a auction house.
Yes, that's seven separate buildings housing about 80 different dealers, most of whom deal in wide array of antiques and collectibles. But this place offers much more than just antiques.
"Antiques and collectibles are our biggest thing here, but not the only thing," boasts Kay Forman. Each of the buildings - most of which are named - offers something a little different.
The main building contains mostly antiques dealers who rent space from the Formans from which to sell their wares. Wander around this building and you'll also find other specialty shops tucked in here and there, including a florist who sells fresh flowers and designs custom arrangements for individuals and weddings.
The Boardwalk building, located just behind the large main building, hosts the Forman's own line of English and French furniture from the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Here you'll find a nice selection of English wardrobes and French armoires, sideboards, stand-alone kitchen cabinetry and much more.
Beside the Main Building, look for Hayden's Antiques in The Shop building. According to Forman, this is a good place "if you like to dig around" for treasure.
Nearby, the cavernous 9,000 square foot Chesapeake Auction House regularly hosts lively events. "Every other week it's an antique and collectible auction," says Kay Forman. "Beyond that, there can be a nursery auction with just plants. There can be a handyman's auction with lawnmowers and chainsaws and such. Craft auctions. They have themes." The auction house will also sell items for you on consignment.
On the other side of this little shopping village, The Cottage contains a used-book store with over 12,000 books. All paperbacks cost $1; all hardbacks cost $3. Lil' House contains a country craft and gift shop which sells new merchandise. Finally, at Park Place you'll find a seamstress, a ceramics studio where you can purchase items or take ceramics classes and a shop specializing in new tools.
Whew! Stop by Chesapeake MarketPlace to find treasure from your wish list.
Lazy Moon Bookshop
In a small way, Lazy Moon Bookshop owner Jim Gscheidle can credit Hugh Hefner with getting him started in the used bookstore business.
Gscheidle likes to tell the story: "My father had a collection of Playboy magazines sitting by the trash one day. He was throwing them out because my mother was on his case about it."
Gscheidle knew of a used bookstore in Silver Spring that dealt in comics and Playboy. He persuaded his dad to let him sell the vintage magazines, and they agreed to split any profit.
"I got $450 for them. [My father] was shocked," he remembers.
At the time, Gscheidle had already caught the book bug and was collecting original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. So on the way out of the store, with the $450 heavy in his pocket, he asked the elderly proprietor's advice on getting into the used book business. Gscheidle ended up working and learning there for five years before taking over that business entirely.
Lazy Moon Bookshop was launched in 1988. Berthed in a quaint old home on Solomons Island overlooking the wide and deep waters of the Patuxent River, this bookshop is a warm and welcoming place. The resident long-haired black and white cat may greet you lazily on the front porch. Open the door and the incomparable smell of old books rushes out as you step into the front room. A large chair in the corner with a lamp situated just right for reading makes you want to sit there all day with one of the 25,000 books on hand.
Lazy Moon is a book lovers' store lovingly tended by a self-admitted book fanatic. (Gscheidle has over 15,000 books in his personal collection.) He buys and sells hardbacks and paperbacks in all subjects. Selection ranges from paperback bestsellers at a few dollars each to rare books with considerably higher price tags.
Gscheidle specializes in local, regional and state history books and nautical themed books. Framed vintage prints and maritime documents fill the walls.
For those who prefer to listen to a story rather than read it, a large selection of books on tape is here. Plus, you'll find shelf after shelf of cookbooks in great condition for about half the original cover price.
Book lovers beware: experience Lazy Moon Bookshop just once and, like a siren's call, it will forever beckon.
Tricks of the Trade