It’s easy enough to head to the mall for most of your holiday shopping, but sometimes the perfect gift isn’t found among the shiny and new. In fact, a little digging can unearth high-quality gifts hidden in some of the St. Croix Valley’s antique shops, where collections of vintage artwork, estate jewelry, mid-century furniture and other one-of-a-kind finds are carefully curated by local experts.
Lakeland Antiques and Vintage has “a little bit of everything,” says co-owner Jane Willison, but the store also features dealers who specialize in specific items, from rare books and coins to vintage signs. Lately, demand has been high for last century’s cookware, like CorningWare ceramic pans and glass Pyrex baking dishes ($8–$50).
Interest in Franciscan fine china, especially pieces featuring the iconic hand-painted “desert rose” pattern popular just after World War II, is high at Midtown Antique Mall in Stillwater, but “what we hear ‘wow’ about the most is the third-floor furniture gallery,” owner Julie Kranz says. Midtown is also one of the best places to seek out valuable estate jewelry, with specialized dealers bringing in their rarest pieces to display each weekend ($20–$3,000).
For those interested in historic artifacts that reflect the heritage of local American Indians and early immigrant populations, Jerry Peters’ Country and Indian Gallery is an invaluable resource. He features Sioux and Ojibwe beadwork items ($200–$2,000) and handmade Midwest immigrant furniture, including cupboards, secretaries, chairs and tables, plus household items ($100–$1,500). Most of his buyers are serious collectors, but his array of antique furniture is a decorator’s dream.
Of course, change isn’t always a bad thing. For example, dwell.furniture and home décor in Afton is an antique store, but the the space mixes vintage home accessories with pieces made by local artists that often incorporate salvaged materials. Particularly popular are items fashioned from reclaimed barn wood, from wall sconces ($30) to painted signs ($60–$99) that add rustic charm.
Artwork is also a big focus at the recently opened River City Antiques in Stillwater, which grew out of a group of four dealers’ desire to create “an upscale showroom for our estate sale acquisitions,” co-owner David Austad says. The space is open and airy, with a selection of vintage Persian rugs and Mid-century Modern Danish furniture brought in by those looking to downsize. “We have a mix of European and Asian art in excellent condition that’s on the market for the first time,” Austad says, noting pieces range in price from $20 to several thousand dollars.
Shoppers seeking the definitive antiquing experience should not skip a trip to Abigail Page Antique Mall in Hudson. Named for Abigail Page, the first child born to Hudson settlers in 1847, the two-story store is well-regarded for its size and variety. Between the kitchen canister sets, classic vinyl albums and antique cut-glass perfume bottles of many colors, you are sure to find something that is anything but ordinary.