by Susan Custis, Vintage Fusion
It’s that time, again…time to fuel up the faithful ‘woodie’ and hit the vintage road! Here in Florida, our weather is beautiful, the snowbirds (and tourists) are back, and high season is in full swing in Southwest Florida, where our travels take us for this edition of Vintage Finds Magazine. Here we explore some really unique shops and markets. So, why do we love vintage shopping so very much?
Here are our 10 top reasons:
The excitement of the hunt
It’s easy to find
There’s a history, or story, behind each thing
They don’t make stuff the way they used to
It’s often ‘one-of-a-kind’
Since it’s survived…it’s quality
It’s thrifty and often a real bargain
It’s a way to experience a way of life through ‘what was’
What is vintage today was once brand new
Vintage spans decades and design genres
We start our exploration in Pinellas County at Antique Marketplace at Bay Area Auction Services at 8010 US Highway 19 N., in Pinellas Park. Here we found 2 separate businesses – the Marketplace and the Auction Services. Established 20 years ago, the mall and auction services are housed in the old Tingler’s Furniture Store with the mall in what was the showroom and the auction services in the former warehouse. The Marketplace is open 7 days a week. On auction days, customers can flow between the auction house and marketplace. In the marketplace, we found over 80 dealers whose wares were displayed in booths and locked showcases featuring everything from true antiques to mid-century modern to ‘80s collectibles. Prices range from $1 to well into the $1,000s, offering something for collectors at every level. Nancy and the friendly staff at Antique Marketplace take pride in creating a welcoming environment and offering exceptional customer service in helping shoppers find that perfect addition to a collection or fill a special decorating need.
Back in the woodie, we head to Manatee County, where we find Blessed and Distressed at 615 59th Street W, in Bradenton. Here they offer a most unique array of handcrafted, upcycled, and repurposed merchandise carefully and elegantly displayed. Over 30 local vendors and artists work together to create a mix of quirky, eclectic, elegant offerings in a ‘happy place’ where everyone is welcome and customers are readily engaged in a unique shopping experience to find ‘something new that is old’. Their offerings include the work of some of Bradenton’s top artists. Other offerings include jewelry and handmade upcycled clothing, including redesigned denim and clothing made from vintage fabrics (whether old clothing, curtains, tablecloths, etc.) into one-of-a kind designs for today’s lifestyle. Those in search of mid-century and shabby chic are certain to find something special here. They also offer Fusion paint. With several chefs among the staff and vendors, a ‘sip and shop’ at Blessed and Distressed is not to be missed.
Still in Manatee County, we head down to road to the oldest fishing village in Florida, Cortez, where we find the Sea Hagg. Sea Hagg? What a crazy name, except that owner, Jan, says it was the best thing they ever did because folks come in just to see what’s behind the name. Once inside, you’ll find floor to ceiling one-of-a-kind nauticals, antiques, gifts, coastal décor, and…well, curiosities. With 25 years of experience finding and selling the most unique and best in nautical items, the Sea Hagg is well-known for offering authentic items from ships, ships’ salvage, and treasure made by local artists. Mermaids are a favorite, and the Sea Hagg has sold them long before they became so popular. Here you’ll find figureheads and older mermaids. At the Sea Hagg, they have local artists that specialize in ugly mermaids… warts, missing teeth, messy hair, and all. The staff at Sea Hagg have also used their love of nautical and their unique merchandise to decorate numerous restaurants, as well as homes, condos, and offices. Some years ago during their second year in business, a Sarasota newspaper conferred on them the “A Place You’ve Driven By a Million Times and Finally Decided to Stop” award. The road they are on has over 40,000 cars travel it each and every day. Hot tip: Octopus is very popular right now. They can’t keep them in.
Our next stop is in Lee County at Paradise Vintage Market, at 5100 S. Cleveland Ave, in Fort Myers. Open 7 days a week with over 25,000 sq feet and over 110 vendors, here we find merchandise that focuses on Florida life and reflects the Florida vintage past. Managing partner, Beth, describes the southwest Florida as a Tommy Bahama, Margaritaville, tiki bar, mid-century modern, laid back lifestyle. At Paradise Vintage Market, they have a wide array of items to support what they actually call The Florida Vintage Lifestyle. You’ll find ‘sleek’, ‘streamlined’, ‘beach’, ‘fun’, ‘Florida colors of aqua and seafoam green’, etc…but vintage. They find that their customers have come to Florida, leaving behind colonial and victorian décor, for a new, more relaxed lifestyle that focuses on pool and beach time. The merchandise at Paradise Vintage Markets specializes in décor that accents that lifestyle, but the focus is on vintage. On the first Monday of the month, the Market sponsors a meet-up at a local restaurant where dealers and collectors can get together to hear guest speakers and learn about trends, collectibles, and what’s selling in southwest Florida. For information and to reserve a space, interested individuals should call Beth, at 239-362-38111.
While at Paradise Vintage Market, be sure to check out Elemental Art. The owner, Beth, has been collecting nature treasures since she was a kid. Guests at Elemental Art will find the largest selection of Florida fossils in southwest Florida, including mammoth teeth and fossil bones. Check out the large selection of metaphysical, polished stones and crystals, too. Quartz, tourmaline and unusual pieces for energy work, reiki and feng shui are an important part of their inventory. Complementing her love of rocks, is a background in paranormal tourism from her days in Kansas, and writing about it. Beth’s books include: Ghosts of Kansas, (Schiffer); Wichita Haunts (Arcadia); and a TV special Topek Plains Spirits (PBS KTWU, Topeka).
Our final stop of the day, still in Lee County, is Paris Market Antique Mall, at 1357 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. Now in their 7th year, they have refined their concept in offering the best in higher end items in over 6,000 square feet from 30 vendors whose wares are not only from Paris but from all over the world. The owner, Sandy, has over 33 years of experience in antiques both as an avid collector and dealer. As a collector who was retired and bored, she decided to leverage her knowledge and passion into creating a special destination shop that even locals frequent to find one-of-a-kind, high-end treasures. Their offerings include carefully curated estate pieces and wonderful discoveries from folks in transition. Daily new arrivals offer a reason to come back often. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram where they frequently post pictures called “Daily Inspiration”. These pictures provide fabulous ideas on how the items they sell can be used to create truly elegant rooms.
Once more, we had a fabulous day of shopping. The woodie is loaded with things large and small, from that which is nautical and from the sea to things ‘earthy’ that were dug up in the dirt; from the casual to the elegant; from clothing to home décor and so much more. So, wait!!! There are actually many more than just 10 reasons why we love vintage … we can go on and on.
Hi I'm Kathy, owner of Vintage Finds Magazine. I hope you enjoy these vintage shops and markets.