Who wants to be dull? Predictable? Run-of-the-mill?
Not me, that’s for sure.
I just want the best, something original, and an experience worth remembering. Not a lot to ask, huh?
Actually, I don’t think it’s a lot to ask. But I’ve got it easy considering I live in fabulous, walkable, downtown Staunton, Virginia, where shopping, eating, and entertainment flow into and around each other like the greatest melody, the best harmony, living music!
That’s why I thought maybe, just maybe, you’d like getting an insider’s view on why Staunton is a top antique and vintage shopping destination. And I’m going to give you a clue — it’s NOT just because I own a gigantic antique mall and art gallery. Seriously, it goes way beyond what I’ve got going on.
It’s about the bigger story of what Staunton’s all about.
So whether you live in Staunton, or whether you’re one of our good neighbors over in Charlottesville, or whether you’re just passing through the Staunton/Augusta area on 1-64 or I-81, there’s always a reason to choose Staunton first to get your vintage shopping fix.
Actually, there’s tons of reasons, but I forced myself to narrow it down to three so you’d actually read the whole blog post! 🙂
#1. Accessibility + Multiplicity
Okay, I cheated. It’s just that these are two good answers rolled into one! Really!
Here it is: You could be hopping in the car locally or jumping off the interstate for a break, but either way you want some choice in your destination. And that’s where Staunton really delivers.
Staunton packs such a punch in its dense downtown area that you can visit five fabulous antique shops within five blocks just on Beverley Street alone. And that doesn’t include a separate vintage clothing shop on Beverley, the Wharf shopping area just two blocks down the hill, and that some of the jewelry shops carry vintage estate jewelry.
So whether you’ve got a half hour or all day (or all weekend) for your antique shopping fun, you can park and hit them all without getting back in the car. It’s a fresh way to take a break.
I suppose you could say the same thing at some of those low slung “under-one-roof” antique mall pitstops off the highway in all kinds of places, but the difference is that ours is on a bustling city street in a town consistently named one of America’s Best Small Towns.
You know, character counts! And by that I don’t just mean how nice we are. I also mean how quirky we are! From locals to visitors, people simply #lovestaunton!
#2. What Else Ya Got?
The other amazing thing about Staunton, and proof that we punch well above our weight, is that Staunton is also known as a top foodie destination.
Now, full disclosure here — my son Ian Boden, chef at his acclaimed Appalachian-foodways inspired restaurant The Shack, helped put Staunton on the map for its renowned local and farm-to-fork culinary pleasures.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to eat high-end. But even our other eateries in downtown are local and unique — like Chicano Boy Taco (get the roasted corn on the cob) — and almost all curate an impressive Virginia regional beer and/or wine list.
The point here is that instead of being stuck with short hours at an antique mall lunch counter (if there’s any food offered at all), where an egg salad might be nice but nothing special, you can do double-duty when coming downtown or hitting Staunton from the highway because on top of great antique finds there’s also great eats! Again, all in walking distance!
Park, walk, shop, eat, repeat!
#3. Antiques the Way You Want ‘Em
Everyone’s got their own antique and vintage shopping style.
Some folks are laser-focused on finding a very specific thing. Like at my shop we’re known for a big collection of Mid-Century Modern finds in our extensive lower level. We’ve got plenty of other eras and styles represented here, but people who want Mid Century make a bee line for it when they visit us.
Some folks like a holy Hell mess. They want to dig, shift, push, reach, explore because they’re thinking that somewhere in the bottom of a box or behind a huge piece of furniture or under a pile of old bedspreads there’s bound to be some treasure that someone has missed and they want to be the one to find it.
Some of the antique shops in Staunton operate just this way and some of the booths within the various different shops — including ours — also take this more devil-may-care approach to hawking their wares.
Or maybe they’ve simply got SO MUCH STUFF that it’s a bonanza of amazing finds if you’re the kind to find the needle in the haystack! Push aside those tight racks, dig under that stack, you’re gonna find something!
And then some folks want their antiques highly curated. They want things clean, easy-to-see, well displayed, maybe even with documentation or information about the item/style/manufacturer/artisan etc. I know that I and plenty of my vendors prefer this method, as do some of the booths in the other shops around town. If you want clean and clear antique shopping, it’s here for sure.
But whatever your preference, you’ll consistently find throughout downtown Staunton examples of every style, meaning you’re sure to find what works for you or try all the different approaches if you’re an equal-opportunity antique hunter!
I hope this gives you a tiny peek into what makes this place a great antique shopping destination in Virginia or off I-81/I-64.
And to all this I should add one more thing. Staunton has got to be one of the friendliest little cities in Virginia, America, the world! Locals love living here and their affection is infectious. They’re happy to see you — we’re happy to see you — and even though we maintain our quirky little local vibe, we do it with the hand of friendship extended.
In fact next time I ought to write about staying here for a weekend. That’s a whole other set of reasons to visit Staunton for your antique shopping addiction! Stay tuned and I just might.
See you on Beverley Street!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center