Remember when you were little and doctor and dentist offices had those treasure chests you got to dig through and get a prize if you were good during your appointment? Well, I never grew out of that phase. And American Pickers is one of my favorite shows; looking at you- Mike and Frank! (See: borderline hoarder disorder.) See where this is going? I have a strong passion for design and interior decorating- but not just any kind- the kind where you a.) save boatloads of money and b.) reuse/repurpose/recycle items that already exist. There are few things I love more than giving an old thing a new life. From a vintage tea tray to a vintage Farmall tractor, saving what’s been forgotten is in my blood. My mom and grandma fostered this love from the very beginning, taking me with them to estate sales, farm sales, and most of the antique stores in the midwestern (best) states. I love that this vintage thing is coming back in style, (thank you, hipsters) and I’ve been lucky enough to have gone to some amazing markets lately to get my fix. If you’re ever in/around/passing through the Midwest or the South, here are 3 of the best markets to find unique vintage treasures.
First Weekends in the West Bottoms: Right next to the Missouri River lies the Kansas City warehouse district known as the West Bottoms. Once a bustling industrial area, this area was the first real marketplace on the river, and helped begin the western migration of the United States. Now the humongously beautiful, brick, turn of the century warehouses house freight elevators carrying antiques and any vintage item you could ever want up their 4+ stories.
The site is all walkable, parking is easy, the items are nicely priced, and there are usually bands and food trucks. Get there early for the best experience. I could live in this place it’s that magical. Go there: Kansas City, Missouri West Bottoms Just west of downtown KC, by the 12th Street Bridge (oldest in the city.)
Urban Barn Market: Okay, so this one is new, with its inaugural showing this past weekend, but it was a good one. Made up of mostly local Memphis small booth vendors, this market is very manageable and kid friendly.
Anything from calligraphy, homemade candles, to vintage type keys and everything inbetween. Part craft fair, part antiques, the mixture was elegant while still upholding that gritty Memphis feeling. There were a lot of things I wanted, but I scored a 1950s throw that is possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. And the lady that sold it to me? She grew up in my small hometown, 8 hours away from Memphis. If that isn’t fate, I don’t know what is.
The venue for this market was also the Woodruff-Fontaine mansion, which made for a very surreal shopping backdrop and beautiful gardens to stroll through with your treasures. This market is seasonal, so don’t miss the next one coming up in October, also at the Woodruff-Fontaine house. To go there, follow Urban Barn Market on Facebook so you won’t miss another!
Hot Springs, Arkansas, around town: If you’ve ever driven on two lane country roads in middle America, you know it’s pretty typical to come across some sort of “antique” store along the way. Hot Springs is basically like one of the crown jewels of Arkansas. While I have yet to actually check out the hot springs bath, I have been able to enjoy the beautiful lakes around the area and the humbleness of the town. And so many shops come with this town. I haven’t been in all of them, but if you’re looking for a good picking spot with beyond reasonable prices, or if you’re looking to get a lot of DIY pieces to incorporate into your home, this is worth the drive. I once passed up a mint green, chipped, full size ladder outside one of the stores, and one entire year later still have not gotten over the loss. Many of the locals rent out their lake houses and the laid back lake atmosphere is beyond a good time in the summer! Go there and stay awhile! Hot Springs, Arkansas