Nothing Could Be Finer
Than to Shop in Carolina
Antique furniture and china are among the many treasures at the Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show.*
By Mary Mihaly
Looking at Mindy Snyder’s face, anyone could see her excitement. “I know my eyes are ready to pop out of my head,” she said, laughing, “but take a look around you—there must be millions of dusty items waiting to be rescued!”
Snyder and three friends (this author among them) had driven nine hours from Marietta, Ohio, to experience the Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show (800-824-3770 or www.dmgantiqueshows.com) 7100 N. Statesville Rd. The show was fabled to have up to 2,000 vendors, selling virtually every item they could imagine.
Develop a Plan
According to Snyder, the friends had talked for the entire nine-hour trip, wondering: What would 2,000 sellers look like? Would four days be enough?
One of the many vendors at the Charlotte Antique Show.*
Approaching the grounds on opening day, traffic slows to a crawl. The expo is organized in more than a dozen buildings, scores of large tents and even more open-air stalls. All of them are packed with treasures.
For many shoppers, the easiest way to cover the show is to split up and meet later for lunch. Ambling down the long, wide aisles and outdoor corridors, prepare for sensory overload.
You will see cupboards stuffed with vintage linens and tables laden with yellowware, spatterware and Fiesta ware. Piles of teacups, tractor seats and mannequins bask in the sun. Folk art, tramp art and even a smattering of contemporary art enjoy cushier displays.
So Many Items, So Little Time
Jewelry is a popular item; collectible “department store brooches” might run as high as $500 each. One vendor specializes in shiny old cash registers; another peddles Amish-made honey and jams for as little as $3 a jar. In the same aisle, antique beaded purses fill a display case.
Mindy Snyder’s first purchase was an old glove form, for $6. “My collection of ‘hands’ keeps my bracelets organized,” she explained. Later that afternoon she would buy a fake-topaz ring for her niece ($15) and some turn-of-the-century Chicago postcards ($1 each) for a friend who collects them.
Betty Jenkins, one of Snyder’s traveling buddies, came to lunch alight with news: She had found a doll that was identical to one she’d loved as a child and debated buying it for her granddaughter. Snyder talked her into it, though the $100-plus price tag – even after haggling – wasn’t exactly flea market pricing.
Another of Snyder’s friends was eager to show off the cast-iron decorative hooks she’d found. Each proclaimed it a great shopping morning, even though they had covered only a fraction of the expo.
More than Antiques
While one can easily spend three or four days immersed in this mega-flea market, Charlotte is a beguiling city that merits attention of its own. A few suggestions for your “Charlotte day”:
- Mint Museum of Craft & Design (704-337-2000), 220 N. Tryon St., in the heart of Uptown, is a gem of a contemporary art museum. You can see all the displays in an hour, but save time for the eclectic, treasure-packed gift shop. Admission is $3 for students, $5 for adults.
- Just opened in 2006, the U.S. National Whitewater Center (704-391-3900 or www.usnwc.org) 820 Hawfield Rd., offers a climbing center, mountain biking and running trails, and the world’s largest manmade whitewater river. Prices depend on the activity, ranging from $13 per day for climbing to $55 for the whitewater/kayaking “sampler” with instruction. Hiking trails are free.
- Another Charlotte newcomer is the Levine Museum of the New South (704-333-1887 or www.museumofthenewsouth.org) 200 E. 7th St. Displays focus on post-Civil War Southern history, anchored by “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers,” showing Charlotte’s development.
End your Charlotte adventure back at the antique fair on Sunday, the best day for haggling. As the friends from Marietta, Ohio, wrapped up their shopping for the day, Betty Jenkins snagged a collection of wildflower prints, and Mindy Snyder bought an Eastlake mirror-frame from an old dresser. The price: $10, as the dealer was packing up.
On the frame, someone had painted one word: “Breathe.”
“Ah,” Mindy said. “That’s how I always feel after a great flea market.”
Charlotte Antique Show Schedule
The Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show is held monthly, with the “Spectaculars”—the year’s biggest expos—in April and November. The June “Sell-A-Bration” is summer’s largest show, with more than 1,000 dealers; other monthly shows attract about 500 sellers.
2007 show dates:
- May 31-June 3 (Sell-A-Bration)
- July 5-8
- Aug. 2-5
- Aug. 30-September 2
- Oct. 4-7
- Oct. 31-Nov. 4 (Spectacular)
- Nov. 29-Dec. 2
For more information, contact the Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-231-4636 or www.visitcharlotte.org).
Travel and lifestyle writer Mary Mihaly has traveled to more than 50 countries on assignment. She writes regularly for top national publications, including Reader's Digest, Yoga Journal, Miami Herald, Playboy, Family Circle, and Country Living. Her latest book, Insider's Guide to Philadelphia (Globe Pequot, 2007), was released in January.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of the Charlotte Antique & Collectibles Show. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.