Vintage shopping is not always in a tourist’s mind when traveling unless you are me (hopefully I’m not the only one). Every place I travel to I like to see what local goodies I can find. And when I say local goodies, I’m not talking about the local foods and yummy drinks (well, I check those too!) but historical local goodies. For example, if you visit states in the East coast you are more likely to find older furniture (British, French, Primitives) and smalls from the Civil War (forks, cans, bags, buttons, etc). Go to Missouri or Louisiana you will find lots of French goodies (furniture, lace, etc).
But what about the West? Compared to the rest of the country the West is relatively young or so we think.
We know that the Spanish visited some areas of Arizona between the 1500 and 1700s with their forts and missions but this was a long, long time ago and we wonder how much of it survived. And what history can we gather since, say the late 1850s, when things became a little more official (the United States bought Arizona from Mexico in 1853)? We also know that Arizona was a territory until 1912. If you think about it, it’s not that long ago. Sorry, I must have lost you by now with the history lesson but this background is important when looking for certain antiques or vintage items. Which brings us to the question above: What kinds of antiques can one find in Arizona?
Well, most people think Cowboys and Native Americans when they think of Arizona. Sure they are a great part of Arizona’s history. Trailblazers, inhospitable heat, dryness, creatures trying to kill you (rattlesnakes, scorpions, Gila monsters! Yaiks!). It took these pioneers a lot of courage and it took a lot of tools to build this State! And you can count on one thing from Arizona’s vintage shops: spurs, primitive tools, cowboy hats (oldish and new), dried wood boards-the kind you can make signs with! (Heart palpitations and itchy hands just talking about it!) and lots of Native American goodies (moccasins, dream catchers, headdresses (old and new), arrowheads, turquoise and more.
But Arizona is not all about cowboys. People have been living here for a while and one thing Arizona is big with: New residents! That’s right! People who come from all over the country and the world to live in Arizona and with them: Stuff!! French furniture, British desks, the works! It’s like having the world at your feet, right in your back yard (I mean, not literally your backyard but close enough).
So with that in mind and knowing I can find all sorts of goodies from all over, what is a girl to do? Where do I go to find those things?
Arizona is filled with vintage/antique stores everywhere. Some of the places I like to go are not too far from me in Phoenix. But cities nearby also have great stores and some are pretty close to the “old west”. I mean, they are new cities but still growing and you still see the same buildings from the early days of the West full of vintage goodies. It’s like traveling through time!
Please note that I am not making any money telling you about these places. In fact, they don’t even know I’m talking about them but I will tell you because these are my favorites in Phoenix. I will give you names and if you Google them you will find the addresses very easily.
Brass Armadillo: They have two stores in Arizona but my favorite is the one in Phoenix.
Imagine a store the size of a giant supermarket (big box type) full, I mean FULL of goodies. Vintage, old, rusty, rustic, used, beat up goodies. Furniture of all kinds, from primitive to mid century to mid 80s. Old books, clothing (vintage and old), hats and purses (imagine finding hats from the 30s-so adorbs!).
The store is divided in stalls where each vendor displays their goodies and the aisles are given street names. Why streets? Because this place is huuuge!! If you find something you like and you can’t carry it around, you’ll need to be able to find it somehow to pay for it. Street names are an easy way to do that. They even give you a map of the store when you first come in. The map has lines for each street so you can write the vendor number, the item number and the street name so the store assistants can locate the piece and save it for you, especially large pieces. I have “lost” what I wanted many times because I forgot to write the street name. The place has so many “streets” and “stalls” that you can easily spend 4 hours there and not even see the time go by. They even have a resting area with tables and chairs by the bathrooms so you can take a break during your shopping. The only drawback is not having a coffee shop (it closed recently-sniff!).
Some of my best furniture I found at that store. Including these babies
These were super well made 1960’s twin beds. I paid $120 for both beds and while the varnish was chipped, the wood was in excellent condition. I sanded and painted them and since I needed a day bed and a couch for two different rooms I used the two head boards to make my ultra fancy “daybed” in the “inside porch” I created in the parlor (yes, a parlor! Cute!-Left Pic) and the “couch” went to the fireplace area in my living room (Right pic). For that one, I used the foot boards so it would have lower sides.
Other goodies I found there were this 1820’s candle holder for $100 bucks!!
This cute table
These salvaged doors from the 1910’s
One became a Mexican primitive art project (I will soon post this step by step project) and the other became frame/valance in my bedroom.
This is the kind of place that you walk around and feel the good times come back: “Oh look! My mom had those plates when I grew up!” Or “I had that very lamp in my bedroom!”, “Grandma had that collection of pictures in her house!” It’s like walking on memory lane.
The best part is that it’s not just old or vintage. It’s re-purposed, recycled, renewed and/or ready for your own talented hands to do that same. It’s worth checking that place out.
“Melrose on 7th Ave”: This is not a store but several stores in one street! 7th Avenue in Phoenix (between Camelback Rd and Indian School) is a street that used to be a run down area with tire shops and miscellaneous office buildings. It was slowly revitalized and it is now a great spot for vintage, antique and all sorts of stuff to recycle and reuse.
If you like walking you can park your car in one spot and go up and down the street (bring comfy shoes, it’s a long street!). The problem is you’re gonna want your car nearby because it’s impossible to leave those stores without a lot of stuff! You will find places selling just clothes, mid-century furniture (Mids are a big deal in AZ-Frank Lloyd Wright built and inspired a lot of building designs in Arizona). You will also find “Goodwill type stores” where you can buy good quality dressers and other furniture you can refurbish to give it that vintage look. I am sure you will find a lot of inspiration pieces too and lots of materials to create new “old” things.
One of the stores I like to shop in that area is Home Again. It’s not a large store but it is PACKED with stuff.
I found this screen door from the 1810’s there. I use it as a display piece for my babies’ feather wreath (I have a lot of birds who shed feathers every 6 months! I can smell another tutorial right now) and I also use it as a frame for my favorite wedding photo (notice the same pic in the salvaged door above?)
Zinnia’s at Melrose: This is another store I like to shop for vintage and unusual stuff. This is a two-storey warehouse type building with soooo much stuff your wallet will be shaking in its boots (do wallets have feet? Wow, that’s deep, man!).
There are also vintage fairs here and there, especially when the weather is not ridiculously hot in Arizona. Just two weeks ago I went to this lovely fair at the Cardinal’s Stadium where lots of vendors were showing their creations. From upcycling to recycling, from shabby “chic-ing” to plain old rusty stuff, there was something for everybody.
I got great new connections for future blogs and inspiration for my future projects and posts. I had to really control myself not to buy everything (well, I wanted this wagonwheel for my bar decorating project-here). In the end it was a little too heavy for my ceiling (sniff).
Well, this is just a sample of things you can do in Phoenix when vintage shopping. Believe me, I didn’t even scratch the surface.