The art of the hunt…
I love a day of antiquing…or maybe more correctly, the term would be vintage shopping. I don’t often buy things that have reached the 100-yr mark (that deem them a true antique)- with the exception of china. Even so, I love to browse, and I usually end up buying something.
Around the U.S., there are a many antique shows and craft shows that include vintage. While this list is by no means complete (because it only includes the ones I have attended), if you’re in the Chicago area or Midwest, you’re in luck.
I’ve also included just a few outside of the Midwest that I can attest to be worthwhile.
Antique Malls around Chicago and South East Wisconsin
Heritage Trail, Wilmette, IL
Antiques, Mid-Century and newer. This antique and vintage mall is a good source for interior designers as the stock is more eclectic and fashionable vs. heavy, brown and old furnishings. Lots of art, prints, and some vintage clothing. Upscale, prices reflect it, but the inventory is above average.
Gurnee Antique Market, Gurnee IL
I really like this one, it is fairly large, it has a lot of quality pieces and the prices are pretty good. Very organized, clean!
Oakton Street Antique Center, Arlington Heights, IL
Mid-sized antique mall with a mix of merchandise. Good prices.
Also, as a bonus, it’s only a few minutes away from Mitsuwa Market and the ramen that was named one of the best in Chicagoland at Santouka (you can probably get tea there too;)
Benson Corners Antique Mall, Bristol, WI
They have two buildings now, same spot. A nice place to spend an hour browsing, lots of china, dishes, not really any Mid-Century or more recent to speak of.
Rustic Dairyland Antique Mall, Kenosha, WI
Two stories of all sorts of things with pretty good prices. I’ve gotten some real steals here. It’s close enough to Benson Corners that you can easily drop by both places.
Treasure Mart, Ann Arbor, MI
Okay, this one is actually 3.5 hours away from Chicago, but if you happen to be in Ann Arbor, it’s one of my favorite vintage stores. It’s like, three floors of packed antiques and vintage. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, and it is a perfect college town – so much fun even if you don’t have a student in the family.
Salvation Army, Goodwill, Thift Stores, almost any state, USA
Let’s see, last year I bought two Japanese signed prints for $3.25 each that have been valued at over $350.00 each (I didn’t want to sell them), a lightweight side table for $24.00 that I sold online for $225.00, a rare book purchased for $85.00 that I re-sold online for $475.00….so yeah, you can still find valuable vintage at these places! Plus, if you’re looking to stock up on teacups and teapots, these thrift stores are a gold mine for about 1/5 of the price of a vintage shop.
There are many other vintage stores around the city, but ‘in the city’ generally means much more expensive, so I stick mostly to ‘outside the city.’ The exception would be vintage clothing – I’m not much of a clothes shopper, but if you were, you would find some excellent pieces in Chicago.
Antique and Vintage Flea Markets near Chicago
Sunday at Sandwich, Antique Flea Market, Sandwich, IL
Held one Sunday of every month, May – October, this outdoor market is a really pleasant way to spend an afternoon. With loads of stuff, walking amongst the grassy field and under trees gives this market a bit of a European feel. One of my favorites.
Grayslake Antique Flea Market
Once a month, one weekend, all year long, though the spring, summer and fall are definitely busier with more vendors. This is a mostly indoor market, but during fair weather, they’ll be outdoor vendors as well. Always fun to browse this one, a traditional ‘flea market’ mix with usually a good selection of jewelry.
Kane Country Flea Market, St Charles, IL
A huge flea market set on fairgrounds. Indoor and outdoor vendors, this is a popular one. Great when the weather is cooperating, but even so, when it’s not, there’s less competition for good deals. One weekend a month, pretty much all year round.
Randolph Street Market, Chicago, IL
This Vintage Flea Market near Chicago, is actually in Chicago. It and the cost to get in is about $10. If you’re looking to furnish your new pad with trending pieces like industrial, Mid-C, 70s, etc – this is your place. If you’re looking for a bargain…may be not.
Just like parking is more expensive in a big city, so are flea market prices. Expect to pay more here, but you’ll also find some great pieces and it’s a fun and hip scene.
There are a few other flea markets around the Chicagoland area – Wolffs, and Maxwell Street Market come to mind. My experience has been that there’s a lot of imports, inexpensive clothing, socks, and sunglasses that you have to wade through at these ones, but a lot of people love them, so you may want to give them a try.
Vintage & Craft Fairs
Vintage and Made Fair, Iowa
This fair is held a few times a year, and includes lots of handmade craft type items, along with vintage. A fun day browsing lots of creative stalls.
Urban Farmgirl Main Street Market, Belvidere, IL
This is also a crafts and vintage fair, very similar to the Vintage and Made Fair. Lot of creativity, lots of shabby chic, French Farm House, distressed white furniture, pretty plants etc. Outdoor, and especially fun on a beautiful day.
Two other Flea Market Biggies…
Two other iconic flea markets I want to include are the Rose Bowl Flea Market and the Brimfield Antique Flea Market.
Rose Bowl Flea Market, Pasadena, CA
I used to go the Rose Bowl Flea Market fairly regularly when I lived in SoCal, and it is huge and fun. At the time Mid-C was just peaking, and being that you were in the area where this kind of furniture was abundant, the pickings were good. Not sure if still is, but I’m sure the market itself is still terrific.
Wear comfortable shoes, bring something to carry your finds in – it gets really crowded- and hot, so bring sunscreen.
Second Sunday of every month, outdoor, but’s it’s sunny California so….
Brimfield Antique & Flea Market, Brimfield, MA
Like the Rose Bowl, this is a big antique market. When I was there, it trended towards more traditional ‘East Coast’ antiques and retro vintage, but I’m sure being as large as it is, it has a bit of everything. We stopped in at this one on our way back from a Maine roadtrip. It was fun, and I would definitely recommend it. I believe it is only put on a few weekends a year.