A new generation embraces antiquing to find vintage and one-of-a-kind decor.
by Jennings Cool Roddey
Sifting through rows of knickknacks reminds me of sitting down for coffee with an old friend. Time stands still, and you learn something about generations past. But instead of rummaging through memories, you might discover a sturdy dresser, timeless glassware or a fringed lamp with history.
To me, there’s something special about shopping for antiques and vintage goods — giving new life to items that have stood strong through the years. You might find something a grandparent or great-grandparent kept in their armoire that makes you laugh (or cringe). You could also find a children’s book, cooking utensil or old painting that fills you with nostalgia.
“There is a nostalgic kind of magic to items from the past,” says Katie Hardister, who owns The Brass Grasshopper in Matthews with her husband, Stephen. “I had a person shopping in our store moved to tears because she was overwhelmed with emotion seeing items she remembered her grandmother having.”
The Brass Grasshopper, formerly Antique Alley, has been around for more than 30 years and boasts it’s the longest-running antique mall in the Charlotte area. After purchasing the store in 2022, the couple rebranded and added more “vintage flair and curated displays.”
“You never know what you might find,” Hardister says. “You could happen upon a uniquely upholstered wingback chair, a beautiful vintage oil painting, a brass trophy cup with just the right amount of patina to hold a bouquet of flowers, a vintage denim jacket that is already perfectly broken in. Or you might finally score that rare vinyl record you’ve been wanting to add to your collection.”
Popular items include vintage books, leather tufted chairs and ottomans, records, and oil paintings. However, brass animals are Hardister’s all-time favorites. “They are adorable and add a whimsical element nestled with those vintage books on your shelf. Just add a little plant in a vintage ceramic planter, and you are good to go,” she says.
Hardister’s advice for shoppers is simple: Enjoy yourself in the exploration. “There are so many unique items — it’s easy to miss a gem if you rush the process,” she says. “Treat antiquing as a treasure hunt and have some fun with it. You never know what you might find.”
Knowing how to date an item is also important when antiquing, notes Susan Gathings, co-owner of Antebellum Marketplace in Indian Trail. “Antiques are 100 years old-plus,” she says. “Vintage is considered 50 years to 100.”
Antebellum Marketplace sells a variety of antiques, gifts and home décor, from man-cave essentials to vintage kitchen tools to something you might discover in an old barn. “Many vendors mix antiques with other items, so go around twice to see it all,” Gathings says.
Her love for antiquing started early on; she would tag along with her parents when they ventured to antique auctions. “For me, when I touch an antique, I can feel its soul,” she says. “There’s a story in there somewhere.”
Gathings currently sees shoppers gravitating toward wood furnishings, pieces that accent modern decor, and everyday items used in a home or business. Though, as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “What one person is looking for and falls in love with, another may think is junk,” she says.
At The Depot at Gibson Mill in Concord, record players, vintage cameras, and authentic farmhouse pieces are quick to sell, according to General Manager Janna Jordan. The Depot is known as the largest antique mall in the South, with 88,000 square feet of retail space. The vignettes and displays are what sets The Depot apart, Jordan says. “Our vendors bring it.”
There’s a common misconception that younger generations have little to no interest in digging through old items. While that may be true for some, it’s not for all. Jordan has noticed an increase in younger shoppers searching for unusual decor, like plastic beer signs. “It’s refreshing to see a younger generation energized to find antique and vintage items,” she says.
The trend for young-ish people adopting elements of their grandparents’ style even has a name: grandmillennial, coined by writer Emma Bazilian. Think 20- and-30-somethings who enjoy varied textures, funky lampshades and heirloom furniture, mixed with more contemporary pieces.
I suppose I would fall into this category, being a 27-year-old with a house filled with vintage paintings, glassware and trinkets. My most recent finds include painted postcards from various spots in the Carolinas and an electric oil lamp — it fits like a glove on my bar cart next to a few vintage crystal decanters. SP
Where to get your nostalgia fix
Antique, vintage and consignment stores in the Queen City are few and far between — you just have to know where to look. Here are a few places to shop for vintage finds in the Charlotte region.
Antebellum Marketplace | 5817 W. Hwy. 74, Indian Trail
The Brass Grasshopper | 1325 Matthews-Mint Hill Rd., Matthews
Christie’s on Main | 318 Main St., Pineville
Classic Attic | 4301-C Park Rd.
The Depot at Gibson Mill | 325 McGill Ave. NW, Concord
Garrett’s Antiques and Indian Shop | 14805 Lancaster Hwy.
Main St. Antiques & Design Gallery | 500 S. Main St., Mooresville
Piccolo Antique Mall | 134 N. Main St., Belmont
Sleepy Poet Antique Mall | 6424 South Blvd.