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Picture this: you’re wandering around inside a large building on the outskirts of town.
It might be a newer construction, but chances are it’s very, very vintage.
The air is slightly perfumed with the scent of oiled wood and dust baking under the spotlights.
Before you stretch long aisles of every imaginable vintage item.
A charcoal sketch in a gilded antique frame peeks out behind a stack of posters. Jewellery and porcelain gleam within glass cabinets. Bookcases with curved shelves bear the weight of everything from china to kitschy casserole dishes to yes, even sometimes books.
Booth after booth, packed to the brim with bits from bygone eras.
It’s quiet. The only thing you hear is the stifle of a squeal nearby as a couple of collectors come across what you discern to be a Pyrex fridgie set. (Can’t blame them — those little lidded dishes are cute!)
You’re startled when you finally check the time and see three hours have passed by. The lure of hidden treasures made you forget all about the clock.
If you haven’t guessed by now, you’re in the veritable vintage wonderland also known as the antique mall. (Never been to one? See our list — and if one is missing, let us know!).
The thing about most antique malls themselves is…well, they can feel a little antique.
Some sellers turn their inventory over quickly and keep things fresh, regularly merchandising and maintaining their booths as if they were mini stores.
Other stuff looks like it’s been languishing for a long time. There’s often not a lot done to make the structures themselves more modern.
For many of us vintage lovers, this is either charming, because #YayItsOld! — or it doesn’t matter, because what really counts are the goodies inside and the thrill of hunting for them.
But for a new generation of shoppers who tend to browse secondhand pieces online or in a vintage market environment, the antique mall concept presents several barriers.
Antique malls are large, and usually located outside of urban areas given the cost of real estate. This makes them more difficult to access.
While many sellers do a fabulous job of promoting their booths, the malls themselves often don’t have a strong social media presence that could entice younger shoppers to visit (though for a great example of a social-forward one, check out Old Strathcona Antique Mall in Edmonton).
And they don’t tend to offer the “destination” experience that shoppers today flock to (e.g., pop-up food and drink vendors and onsite entertainment in addition to shopping).
Antique malls provide an important opportunity for vintage shops to enjoy a permanent home without the overhead of running their own store.
For a shopper, an afternoon at the mall is a great way to spend time, find good deals and uncover beautiful gems. They offer an incredible selection of goods from a variety of sellers.
If you haven't been to one before, I highly recommend it as a way to support local shops in your area.
But as consumer habits shift with the years, and as shoppers continue to seek out secondhand first, the antique mall experience is due for a shakeup.
What can be done to revolutionize the way we shop for secondhand goods in person? What would you want to see of antique malls of the future? I’d love to hear your ideas in a reply to this email.
While we’re on the topic of changes, you might have noticed The Vintage Seeker Scoop has a new name.
In my ongoing quest to connect shoppers and sellers with relevant information, I've split our newsletter into two: this one, specifically for buyers (The Shopper Scoop) and one specifically for sellers (The Seller Scoop).
What can you expect from The Shopper Scoop?
Insight, news and tips specifically for vintage buyers, enthusiasts and thrifters, introductions to the people and shops who make the vintage industry vibrant, plus a list of upcoming events where you can do your bidding.
Scroll down to see more.
Have something you want to read about? Let me know!
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