When I set out to find some of the coolest vintage shops for the holiday season, I wasn’t aware of how far I wouldn’t need to travel. The 300 block of North Queen Street has always been a hotbed for everything vintage and eclectic. And, it still is …
Art Meets Vintage
I opened the door to the spacious Mommalicious, turned and couldn’t take my eyes off the giant taxidermic turkey perched in the corner. Without even looking at the price, I considered purchasing it as a Thanksgiving prank, but decided it was too foul a notion (snicker). Then, I started to notice the artwork planted on the walls and realized this was no ordinary vintage venue.
Surrounded by fashions from yesteryear and antique décor, I couldn’t help but notice the mixed-media and collage-on-paper artwork – created by shop owner and artist Alicia Byler – that is displayed throughout Mommalicious. Art is her first love. She’s been creating since the late 1980s, but nowadays the shop takes up most of her time.
“My paintings came first,” says Alicia. “It only seemed fitting to juxtapose my work alongside the vintage and antiques in my shop when I opened it in 2005.”
Alicia hand-picks every item in the store, and considers Mommalicious a living installation of art whereby customers become part of the work by removing and rearranging parts of the whole piece. As for the turkey – and other stuffed critters in the shop – her attraction relates to a memory from childhood: She and her family would visit park offices and ranger stations while on camping trips. “Yes, they are unique and quirky, but they add just the right amount of odd that I like to the shop,” notes Alicia.
Mommalicious, 310 N. Queen St. 299-0827. Mommalicious.com.
Born in the Wrong Era
Despite my immediate attention to vinyl, owner Jodi Martin Pabon says the big mover at her “a little bit of all things vintage” shop is clothing. The Scarlet Willow has a diverse collection of coats, dresses and accessories (such as hats and gloves). I found an equally impressive and sensibly priced array of men’s and women’s pants, all circa 1960 and 1970. She says she doesn’t want to run a museum and prices her items reasonably in order to attract repeat customers. Good plan.
The long, narrow space is bigger than it seems – actually, 2,400 sq. ft. – and even has a second floor! The place is packed with furniture and knickknacks. The Scarlet Willow has a fun selection of items only the experienced will be thoroughly familiar with, like Polaroid cameras, travelling typewriters and board games featuring the likes of Laverne & Shirley.
“I think I was probably born in the wrong era,” says Jodi, who opened The Scarlet Willow in 2012.
The Scarlet Willow, 320 N. Queen St. 945-5883. Facebook.com/TheScarletWillow.
Owl-fully Great Stuff
Wonderfully colorful, Space is one of the newest additions to the North Queen Street lineup of vintage and eclectic stores. Owner Jesse Speicher likes to call Space “a ‘vintage modern’ store, blending the styles and colors of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s with the contemporary aesthetic of today.” What drew my attention first was a vibrant collection of owl decorations – my daughter loves owls and collects all things owlish, including clothing. It was time to do a little Christmas shopping! An assortment of barware attracted my eye next.
Filling out the small Space is a fantastic selection of furniture, artwork, lamps, glassware and home-decor items. Jesse also offers a small selection of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. The mix of vintage and modern pieces is arranged by style in Space: For example, there is a collection of tiki-ware above the owls.
Jesse, a Lancaster City resident, is a passionate collector and reseller looking to buy and share what he loves. His philosophy is based around personal interaction. As soon as I walked in, he was eager make my acquaintance, greeting me with a simple “hello” and inquiry into how I was doing. Later, he told me he believes everyone should have the opportunity to purchase something stylish and nice without spending a fortune. His pricing reflects that statement.
“The best part of owning the shop is getting to meet the wonderful people from all over who walk in my doors and make every day unique and interesting,” he says.
Space, 336 N. Queen St. 413-3477. Spacelancaster.com.
Not mentioning BUiLDING CHARACTER in a piece about vintage shops in Lancaster is like not mentioning Geno’s or Pat’s in a story about Philly cheesesteaks. The collection of more than 40 shops is the brainchild of Tony Nies and Marty Hulse, who is now the sole owner. The two converted 3,000 sq. ft. of an old warehouse into retail space in 2007. The space doubled a year later, and now houses a variety of vendors selling everything from handcrafted soap to reclaimed building materials. I had no problem finding a couple of vendors I really liked.
For the beer lover or the more sophisticated breweriana collector, there is Steve’s Vintage Man Cave. Steve’s has kitsch characters hawking suds on signs, collectible bottles from around the world and bar lights from some of America’s most iconic brands. The wildest throwback for me was the hard-cardboard case of Blatz for sale. I remember that stuff and it gives me shivers just thinking about it. (Blatz is actually still in production under Miller Brewing Co., but is not available in PA anymore.)
Although Style Archeology has some great retro items, like the circa-1950s small appliances and cookware that caught my eye, the husband-and-wife team behind it is recognized for repurposing forgotten and found treasures. Using everything from kitchen utensils to machinery parts, the interior decorator and handyman duo are creating eclectic and beautiful furniture.
BUiLDING CHARACTER, 342 N. Queen St. 394-7201. Buildingcharacter.biz.
Open Houses in December!
Explore the 300 block of North Queen Street during two Open House events this month:
ALL DAY OPEN HOUSE on Dec. 7. Enjoy entertainment for the whole family, treats and specials at the shops along the block.
MEN’S NIGHT OUT on Dec. 10, 5:30-10 p.m. Get your holiday shopping done in one night, then enjoy a free beer (with valid ID) at Art & Glassworks!