Treasure Troves Right Next Door
Antique Center Mall
By Cat LaVarre
Not all treasure is silver and gold… some are made of china and glass!
We’ve had plenty of rain recently, happily for the environment, and less happily for enjoying the beach, parks, or anything outside. If you get a little bored, here’s an idea for a cold or rainy afternoon: go treasure hunting!
Santa Barbara has several antique shops, including Antique Alley on State Street, and Antique Center Mall on Hollister Ave. Both places have the usual books, clothes, ceramics, expensive jewelry, etc., found in most antique shops, which create the eclectic beauty of places like these. Prices range from $5 items to pieces worth hundreds of dollars. However, you never know what you will discover in the corners. In Antique Center Mall recently, I found antique ice skates and a Swarovski crystal Christmas snowflake. In Antique Alley I found a working typewriter, an appropriately ancient-looking gray measuring scale, and a pair of engraved fireplace bellows.
Yet their separate inventories aren’t the only differences between these two businesses. Each place has a very different feel and in fact somewhat different business models.
Antique Alley on State Street sits in the center of it all, on a corner by McConnell's Fine Ice Creams and Paseo Nuevo Shopping Mall. The mood is casual. When I visited, I was greeted by a friendly chat going on between customers and the front-desk employee, and people coming in and out. The owner and founder, Alan H., as a child loved exploring the garage of his uncle, who was an antique dealer. It appears that passion runs in the family, and Alan carried that passion into a career. The business began in a swap meet in 1980s Santa Barbara. In 1993 it became more officially established, and now the business boasts the findings of over twenty vendors. If you’re in the area, why not take a look?
Antique Center Mall is larger, and perhaps even easier to get carried away and lost in. It is less central, but close to the intersection of Hollister and Modoc, and has free parking in the back. The front doors open to corridors of showrooms to the left and right, both of which connect so you can literally go around in circles. The mood is perhaps more traditional and formal, and the history of the company is older. To quote their website, “The De Lisle family has served the Santa Barbara area for over 50 years.” Beyond an antique store, this company also performs estate appraisals and sales, along with selling the merchandise of over twenty dealers.
Although I’m generally more of a treasure-finder than a treasure-buyer, I did buy one item in honor of my roommate’s tailless dog: a very cute $3 tailless Royal Doulton bone china dog.
Who knows what you could find?
Cat is a quirky life-lover pursuing language and writing in its myriad forms. Check out her author-profile in Goodreads: