Happy Sunday evening, friends! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing weekend.
Today I wanted to talk about one of my favourite hobbies…shopping! Not just any kind of shopping, but vintage shopping. Some vintage devotees refer to their hobby as “thrifting”; others, the more elegant-sounding “antiquing”. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve always been a fan. I chalk that up to influence from my mom, who’s always been a devoted thrift shopper. When I was a kid, she would always bring me along on her trips to Value Village, Goodwill and the Salvation Army, where I would amuse myself by browsing through books and knick-knacks while she shopped. She’s snagged some amazing secondhand finds over the years, and I have too! My best find was, without a doubt, an authentic quilted Burberry jacket that I bought at Value Village for all of $15.
Thrifting has definitely become more popular over the past few years, and platforms like Facebook Marketplace and buy/sell/trade groups on social media have made it easier than ever to do so. There are lots of great reasons to shop secondhand:
- It’s better for the environment. If you’re concerned about the global impact of fast fashion (and we all should be), buying previously-loved items is a great way to reduce your global footprint.
- It’s (sometimes) better for your wallet. I say ‘sometimes’ because there are, of course, high-end vintage shops with prices that rival Holt Renfrew’s. That said, generally you’re paying less when you shop secondhand. And even if you frequent the pricier shops, you’re probably still getting a great bargain when compared to the original price of the item.
- You can find unique pieces. Have you ever walked down the street and seen someone wearing the same Zara dress you have in your closet at home? Or visited a friend’s house and spotted the same lamp you were eyeing at Home Sense earlier that week? I know I have! And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, sometimes it’s nice to know you have something that’s truly one-of-a-kind. If, like me, your style is more ‘timeless’ than ‘trendy’, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes a certain trend becomes so ubiquitous that it’s nearly impossible to find anything else, and heaven help you if you dislike that trend! Case in point: I can’t stand the current trend of women’s tops being either super baggy and oversized, or skintight and cropped. It’s become nearly impossible to find a flattering, true-to-size shirt on the racks today! And don’t get me started on the gray home décor trend. Gray is my least favourite colour when it comes to decorating: I just find it drab, cold and uninviting. Tania and I have been having the toughest time finding a new sofa because 9 out of every 10 sofas on the market right now is gray (I’m only exaggerating slightly.) When you shop vintage, it allows you to escape the trends and find something different!
There are so many fabulous vintage shops and antique stores scattered throughout the GTA and Southern Ontario, but they’re not always close to one another. If you want to do some serious shopping, it’s easiest to go somewhere where you can find a large variety of items all under one roof. That’s why I love the idea of an antique mall! An antique mall may seem just like an oversized thrift shop, but what makes the concept unique is that just like a regular shopping mall, they house several separate “stores”, i.e., booths. One of my favourite antique malls in Ontario is the Hamilton Antique Mall.
Located in the Ottawa Street shopping district, the Hamilton Antique Mall is the largest antique mall in the city. The four-storey building has a long history. Its first life was as a furniture store: Hurst’s Furniture & Radio ran from 1919 until 1956, and afterwards the building was taken over by another furniture store, Adams Furniture. In the early 2000s, businessman Tom Froates opened a wallpaper store there, called (appropriately) “A Big Big Wallpaper Store”. When Froates retired in 2017, the building owners decided to turn the space into an antique mall.
With four levels and over 200 vendors, this 34,000-square-foot space has something for everyone. You’ll find everything from clothing to jewelry to furniture to home décor, from all different eras. One of my favourite booths had a beautiful selection of colourful Tiffany lamps, and a charming rattan dining set that reminded me of something out of The Golden Girls.
This booth had a fun collection of mirrors, artwork and other neat wall hangings.
If it’s glassware you’re looking for, the Hamilton Antique Mall has no shortage of options. There are a ton of booths selling glass vases, bowls, barware, candy dishes… you name it. You’ll find a lot of Depression Glass in a rainbow of vibrant hues.
If your style leans towards the quirky or eclectic side, you’ve come to the right place. Looking for a life-sized statue of a boxer? (The dog, not the athlete… although I wouldn’t be surprised to see either.) Or perhaps a large ceramic cow for your coffee table? Look no further…
While most of the vendors seem to subscribe to the “more is more” philosophy, there are some more pared-down, curated booths as well. Some vendors even sell their own handmade items alongside their vintage collections. This boho-chic booth, which sells macramé hangings, sequined silk throw pillows and chic wicker baskets, was one of my favourites at the mall.
If you’re a first-time visitor to the Hamilton Antique Mall, it can feel a little overwhelming! There are so many booths and so many pieces to look at that you could spend an entire day here and still not have seen everything. My savviest shopping tip is to come in with an idea of what you’re looking for, which will help you stay focused. For instance, I collect blue-and-white china, so I always head right to the booths where I see a large concentration of patterned plates. I do the same thing with ginger jars, Wedgwood, and Depression Glass; all items I’m particularly fond of. Of course, you don’t want to get so laser-focused on finding a specific item that you forget to look at anything else. So many times, the best finds are the ones you didn’t even know you were looking for. So stay focused, but keep an open mind!
Whether you’re a seasoned thrifter or you’re simply looking for some one-of-a-kind vintage pieces to add variety to your home, I hope you’ll give the Hamilton Antique Mall a try!
Are you a fan of vintage shopping? What are some of your favourite stores in Ontario?
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