My idea of the perfect Saturday morning is brunch at a good restaurant (something I rarely do) followed by an hour or so of browsing at a good antique mall (something I often do). I collect antique post cards and Christmas ornaments, but I also enjoy looking at the old furniture, household items, jewelry, etc. that are displayed in most of the stalls. Magazines printed before 1960 are an especially good find, because it’s so much fun to read them and get a glimpse into what was popular at that time. For years, antique malls have provided me with an almost perfect shopping experience: lots of undisturbed browsing, no depressing sessions in dressing rooms, and when I finally do approach the register with my selections, my bill is rarely over $25.00.
Antique Malls were nothing but fun, right up until the moment I first saw an item from my own childhood on display. It was a little wooden dog with flat, plastic paws attached to wheels that went round and round when you pulled it behind you. I had one of those when I was a child, and so did most of my friends. And there it was, on sale at an “antique” store, for a mere $20.00.
The first few times I spotted items from my childhood…toys, dinner plates my mother used, dolls, the Flintstones jelly jar glasses, etc….I tried to shrug it off, figuring that antique malls weren’t really the same as a genuine antique store. The malls rent stalls or display cases out to individual vendors, and I didn’t think anyone monitored what was for sale, so perhaps some vendors were sneaking in a few items that weren’t really that old. You know, like that Fischer Price toy telephone I loved so much when I was little, and that someone was obviously trying to pass off as “antique.”
Sadly, things only got worse. Recently, I have begun to see things in those stores that I owned well past my childhood years. The Autograph Puppy I had all my friends sign in eighth grade, vinyl record albums that I listened to in college, even the electric typewriter I used for many years after college: I’ve spotted all of them at antique malls. It was bad enough knowing that the antique malls are selling the barbies, Nancy Drew books, and those ugly little troll dolls from my childhood; now they’ve begun hawking items from my teens and early adulthood as well. No wonder I’m starting to feel the distinct need for a fortifying glass of wine after an hour spent browsing among the “antiques.”
I had always understood that to be considered an antique, an item had to be at least 100 years old. And no matter how wrinkled I am or how achey I feel, I am most definitely not any where near 100 years old. By my calculations, I shouldn’t be seeing anything from my past in an antique mall for at least another 43 years. I just wish someone would tell the antique dealers that.