Despite the online shopping craze, there are still brick and mortar stores full of all kinds of interesting items. Whether you’re looking for a good deal on a quality used sofa or searching for that unusual item sure to be a fantastic conversation piece, Ann Arbor has must-see shops that exceed expectations.
Current stopped in to visit and talk with store owners about the history and special qualities that make their stores a unique shopping experience.
The Treasure Mart
When people think of collectibles and antiques in Ann Arbor, The Treasure Mart immediately comes to mind. The iconic blue building on Detroit St. was established by Demeris Cash and today is owned by Cash’s daughter Elaine Johns and her husband Carl. I spoke with Carl Johns about what makes The Treasure Mart a destination.
“Kerrytown wasn’t very desirable and wasn’t a good place to hang out in the 1960s,” recalls Johns. Times have certainly changed. Kerrytown is alive and booming, and The Treasure Mart serves as one of the landmark pillars in the area. “People love it because it’s so eclectic. There’s a constant flow of unusual things.”
What’s the most interesting item you’ve ever seen at The Treasure Mart?
Johns told me a fun story about the legend of a Ming vase. Before the age of the internet, it wasn’t easy to research the value of items. Apparently in the 1970s, a Ming vase made its way into The Treasure Mart, only to be sold to a lucky customer for a small sum. Although no one can authenticate the piece, it’s crazy to think a rare Ming vase was sitting around for anyone to buy for a few dollars.
What items are currently popular with customers?
“Mid-Century modern items move very fast. We sell a lot of old toys and antiques, but we’re not really an antique store,” said Johns. “We had a stainless steel desk that came in, and someone from New York saw it on our website, bought it and drove down the next day to pick it up. If it’s unique, it sells quickly!”
What’s unique about The Treasure Mart?
“The charm of the building adds to the ambience,” said Johns. The building housed a wood mill and later, Ann Arbor Fruit and Produce occupied the building’s basement. Three floors of treasures and items placed outside gives shoppers lots of territory to explore.
“We have a huge variety and good prices. We reduce the prices every month if items don’t sell. It’s a friendly and quaint place to be. It’s the spice of America.”
What should shoppers know about The Treasure Mart?
“We get a lot of people who come in and don’t buy anything. They just need their weekly or daily Treasure Mart fix. A lot of consignment shops have come and gone. We’re still here. We must have done something right.”
Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium
10am-7pm, Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm, Saturday, Noon-5pm Sunday
283 Zeeb Rd.
734-929-4508 | wfce.com
Joe Grammatico founded the Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium (or more simply, The Emporium) in 2010. “Before I opened this store, I wished there was a store like this,” said Grammatico. “We sell name brand and Amish furniture. If something is pretty, valuable, or different, we want it!”
What’s the most interesting item you’ve seen at Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium?
“There have been many odd collectibles, I can’t remember them all,” said Grammatico. Shoppers are greeted by the store’s mascot, a colorful carousel lion, painted by students at Community High. There’s also a real (stuffed) lion in the store.
What items are really popular with customers right now?
“We pride ourselves on high end furniture. We sell a lot of furniture and art,” said Grammatico. “Seasonal items sell very well too.”
There’s a room in The Emporium called the “Man Cave.” Says Grammatico, “I like fishing and hunting gear. That stuff doesn’t come in fast enough!”
What’s unique about the Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium?
“It’s the way we display our stuff. We pay a lot of attention to colors and genre to make everything look nice,” said Grammatico. “We’re more of a higher end and upscale consignment shop. We avoid restoration pieces. We make it fun and enjoyable for our clients.”
Grammatico also works with local artists, providing a place to sell their work.
What should shoppers know about Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium?
“If you’re looking for furniture, you should stop here first. People can get a great deal on high quality used furniture in excellent condition. You can also take a virtual tour of our shop on our website. We have another location in Jackson, and are getting ready to open a new location in Livonia.”
Antelope Antiques & Coins
11am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday. 255 E. Liberty St.
734-663-2828 | antelopeantiques.com
Karl and Amy Lagler own Antelope Antiques & Coins. Shoppers take the elevator or stairs to this basement level shop that’s an unusual mix of everything old and collectible. Knives and swords fill one section of a display case, while the other side holds coins and currency.
What’s the most interesting item you’ve ever seen at Antelope Antiques?
“I recently had a customer bring this in,” said Lagler, picking up what looked to be a vase in the shape of a snail shell. “This is a fossilized snail shell with crystals growing out of it. The man who brought it into the shop said it was from the Himalayas. I had a geology professor from UM come in to take a look at it, and he said in his forty years of being a professor, he’d never seen anything like it. He’s going to send a graduate student in to photograph it and write a paper about it.”
Lagler showed me a signed Picasso print that just arrived. “There’s always something interesting coming in.”
What items are really popular with customers right now?
“We have such a wide variety, it’s hard to say. We do sell a lot of coins and U.S. currency,” said Lagler, who set out a $1,000 bill and ten one-ounce gold coins. “We also sell a lot of books and comics and jewelry.”
What’s unique about Antelope Antiques and Coins?
“We’re not a consignment shop. We buy things right on the spot. We do estate sales, and we donate whatever is left to Kiwanis. We even make house calls if you have enough stuff.”
What should shoppers know about your shop?
“We’re always looking for good items to buy. I had a lawyer walk in with two silver dollars,” said Lagler. “He thought he was going to get $20 a piece for them. I gave him $20 for one and $1,500 for the other.”