What’s more fun than an antique store? An antique mall! With so many shops-within-a-shop, antique malls are terrific treasure hunting spots. The variety of vendors means there’s a variety of merchandise. We’re lucky to have two of the largest antique malls on the Peninsula in one spot. The Antique Trove and Antiques Then & Now, on the border between Redwood City and San Carlos, even share the same parking lot. Together they have over 140 vendors selling decorator gems, like a manual Underwood typewriter and a full fireplace complete with a fake burning log.
This time of year, The Antique Trove and Antiques Then & Now are filled with holiday finds to add a little vintage flair to your winter décor. To outfit your tree with old-school accents, look for Shiny Brite ornaments ($5 a box), glass beaded garlands ($10 per strand), and clip-on birds ($15 to $25 each). Dress up your mantle with a forest of bottlebrush trees ($5 apiece), an army of celluloid Santas ($5 and up), and a village of glittery cardboard houses ($12 to $24 each). Or get yourself something that you always wanted (but never got), like an Evel Knievel Dragster ($95). You’re Santa now!
Yes Virginia, That’s a Paint-By-Numbers
There’s plenty of art at the antique malls, but the paint-by-numbers just might be the most irresistible. These quintessentially American “leisure-time” paintings became popular in the 1950s and are now highly collectible. Each year companies like Craftint released a new series of winter scenes, which are perfect for holiday decorating. These kitschy canvases often have idyllic images of snowy landscapes, farm scenes, and the old mill, of course.
At multi-vendor shops like The Antique Trove, you’ll find a variety of paint-by-numbers, often framed, for less than $30. A woodland scene featuring a deer drinking from a stream would be dashing in a rustic den. Swap your everyday fireplace art for a large snowy landscape and let it snow in your living room. Out of wall space? Get a baroque frame for your paint-by-numbers and place it on an easel. Instant masterpiece!
A stroll through Antiques Then & Now is like a trip down memory lane. Many vendors specialize in toys from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and one of the best things about seeing all those toys from your youth is that you can afford them now! So keep an eye out for the childhood favorites Santa forgot, like Barbie’s Corvette, an Apollo rocket ship, and a real gumball machine. They’ll spark the conversation at your next cocktail party.
Many vintage toys make clever holiday decorations. Create your own giant “snow globe” by showcasing a Dakin Dream Pet reindeer ($25) in a bell jar. Use a weathered sled to display your wrapped gifts. Or set up a Lionel train to run up and down the center of the dining table. Next stop, butter!
Classic ornaments like Shiny Brites are available by the box-full and are so cheap, you’ll want three dozen. Popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, these colorful glass balls come in funky colors like light pink, sky blue, and lime. Spired, glass tree toppers are also easy to find, and they are almost always in mint condition in their original packaging. A delicate tree topper would make a brilliant focal point in a bowl on your coffee table. And those Shiny Brites would make a dazzling display perched on crystal candlesticks on the mantel.
You can’t go retro for the holidays without mercury glass ornaments. These classic balls were made in the 1800s in Germany and are often called kugels. They were hand-blown with two layers of glass, so they’re much heavier than today’s glass ornaments (making identifying them a cinch). Mercury glass gets its signature mirrored look from silvering poured between its two layers. That silvering makes these elegant ornaments glow! At $10 to $20 each, you can have your own piece of holiday history.