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Vintage Love: East Texas Home to a plethora of antique shops big and small

By Christina Lane
Oct. 30, 2017 at 7:05 a.m.
Updated Oct. 30, 2017 at 7:05 a.m.

John and Rebecca Stone and their son Johnny, 3, of Methvin St. Antique Mall on Wednesday September 27, 2017. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The hunt for the perfect antique has taken John and Rebecca Stone all across the country. They’ve traveled to the far north, east and south, sifting through odds and ends at shops and estate sales looking for gems.

There's something nostalgic about antiques that draws people to them. There’s a certain charm to the old ways of living that people crave in an age when many of these items have been replaced with sleeker options or new technology.

Searching through a shop and not knowing what you will find, attracts many to antique stores. But oftentimes, what compels someone to take home an old chest-of-drawers, China cabinet, or grandfather clock is actually nostalgia.

“People are attracted to the history of antiques. Oftentimes, an item will remind them of a particular pastime or maybe, at one time, their grandma or granddad had one just like it,” said John Stone, who, with his wife Rebecca, owns Methvin St. Antique Mall in Longview.

The couple opened the Longview antique store about 10 months ago, joining the ranks of dozens of other antique shops that abound in East Texas.

East Texas is a goldmine for antique lovers. From Gladewater to Longview to Jefferson, there are plenty of options for antiquers to hunt for nostalgic gems.

Gladewater alone has so many antique stores that in 1995 the Texas Legislature proclaimed it the “Antique Capital of East Texas.” Gladewater has both a rich oil history and a rich antique history, and it turns out the two are somewhat tied together.

After the peak of the oil boom, many downtown Gladewater businesses closed and the buildings sat empty and abandoned for years. That is until 1986, when a couple purchased one of the buildings and opened The Gladewater Antique Mall. Now owned by Margaret Larkins, who also has a restoration shop in town, the antique mall is one of the oldest continuously operating antique stores in Gladewater.

But it’s by no means the only antique store there. The town has dozens now. After The Gladewater Antique Mall opened in 1986, more dealers came to the city to fill the empty storefronts. Now the stores take up entire blocks of downtown and the city has become a destination for out-of-town antique shoppers.

This year, the city is celebrating its 30th anniversary of antiques in Gladewater and, on Nov. 11, the stores will have a Holiday Open House. From 5 to 9 p.m., there will be food, buggy rides, carols on the street and more as antique shops stay open late for visitors to browse their wares.

“It’s the biggest day in town for the antique shops,” said Diane Turner, who owns Antiques II and who serves as president of the Gladewater Antique District Association.

Turner bought her store 15 years ago from a friend, who she says “piqued her interest in antiques.”

At Turner’s store, she rents out booth space to vendors and said more than half of the store is occupied by long-time tenants.

Over the years, she has noticed changes in both her customer base and in what people are buying. A long time ago people were buying truer antique items – old furniture, cookie jars, pottery and the like. While some shoppers still look for those authentic goods, over time, Turner has noticed that many people shop for items they can alter.

“Shabby chic is really popular right now, so we see a lot of people looking for old windows or old doors – anything they can repurpose,” she said.

Many other antique store owners said they cringe when they think of people taking a genuine antique and repurposing it. But that is on trend right now.

The customer base also has changed. Years ago the key customers at Antiques II were 45-65 years old, but now all of those clients are 65-85.

“We want to appeal to the younger generation,” Turner said.

That’s, in part, meant having to adjust to what the younger generation wants, such as a piece of furniture they can repaint or repurpose as with the shabby chic trend.

But for those who are on the hunt for a true antique, there are many gems in Gladewater stores. At Antiques II, you’ll find things like a primitive wine press and cheese cutter, a crock with a spigot, an antique Westinghouse radio and record player, records themselves and more.

At Gladewater Antique Mall, you’ll find primitive oak furniture, fine China, 1890s bedroom furniture, vintage jewelry, old tools and more. Larkins said to be categorized as a “true antique,” an item should be at least 100 years old.

“True antiques are made to last,” Larkins said. “Furniture is made of actual wood, not particle board. … I’m starting to see younger people buying antique furniture because they’re tired of seeing stuff falling apart.”

At Gladewater Antique Mall, Larkins rents 18 booth spaces to eight dealers. Most dealers have multiple booths. After running the mall for about 25 years, Larkins said she still has just as much fun as she did when she started.

“I enjoy the people and I love seeing all the super cool stuff that comes through. It’s like you get to own a little piece of history for a while,” she said.

Like many other antique store owners, Larkins said it’s the history that draws her to antiques.

But it isn’t just the history and nostalgia that attracts shop owners. That’s also what draws in their patrons.

Dale Jones and Andrea Murray spent a recent fall day shopping at Jefferson Antique Mall. The brother and sister live near Bryan-College Station now, but Murray used to reside in Jefferson. When she came back for a visit in September, they decided to drop by some antique stores.

“It really takes you back to childhood days,” Murray said as she looked around the store. “I’ll see stuff that used to be in our kitchen or toys we used to have. When I find those things, sometimes I buy them because it’s like decorating with a memory.”

Karen Furphy, who owns Jefferson Antique Mall, said the store is a place of memories as many of her customers come in on the hunt for nostalgic items. She’s owned the mall for nine years, but it existed in Jefferson for about 15 years before she acquired it. With 10 dealers, Furphy said her store is a mixture of true antiques and flea market items. Dealers rent booth space and it’s up to them to decide what to place in the booths.

One of the most unique things she has seen come through the doors is a rocking bathtub, an invention of the 1890s. But, the items that she sees customers flock to her store for are Civil War artifacts.

“Any time we get a Civil War item in, it’ll be gone in an hour or hour and a half,” she said.

As for herself, she’s always liked the hunt for an antique. She enjoys looking at estate sales, shops and seeing what people bring in to her store.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” she said.

That’s certainly been true for the Stones in Longview.

When they acquired the building for Methvin St. Antique Mall, John Stone recalled looking through its attic one day and finding an old Longview Jaycees sign.

“It’s amazing what people stash away and forget about,” he said. “I love local history.”

That sign now hangs above the area of the store where patrons pay for items. But, the Longview Jaycees sign isn’t the only piece of local history that Stone has in his store. When customers walk in, immediately behind the front door is a case filled with antique items. That case once belonged to McCarley’s Jewelry and was used to display jewelry. Throughout the store, patrons will see other items, such as a Longview city limits sign when the town’s population was 45,547; a Kilgore College Rangerettes blanket; and a little bank from First Savings and Loan Association of Longview.

While John Stone has always loved old things, his wife Rebecca said she became interested in antiquing after meeting him. They recalled loading up in a 1964 GMC Suburban and driving to Kansas many years ago to buy a vintage camper. That was their first trip together to buy an antique. Since then, they’ve traveled just about everywhere. John Stone said sometimes he sees items online that he wants to buy and other times he just visits cities to browse stores or estate sales at random.

The antique store has allowed for more family time as the couple’s 3-year-old son, Johnny, often can be found greeting customers there.

At Methvin St. Antique Mall, you won’t find flea market items. You won’t find crafts, items made in China, and you won’t find an old piece of furniture that has been repainted.

“We are a true antique store and people compliment us on that,” Stone said.

Stone has a coffer dating back to 1550 or 1560 for sale that he found at a local estate. He’s also got an 1890s China cabinet. But one of his favorite items is a replica of a 1903 Oldsmobile Bliss Surrey. Made with an all metal frame, the replicas were a limited reproduction when they were made.

If you want to know the history of the items in Stone’s store, he’s happy to share. That’s part of the fun, too.

“I love history,” he said. “I love the history behind these items – where they come from and where they’ve been.”

Antique Shops in East Texas

GLADEWATER

    Antiques II

    • 112 S. Main St.
    • (903) 845-6493

    Christie’s Collectibles

    • 113 N. Main St.
    • (903) 845-2811

    Country Girl Collection

    • 124 S. Main St.
    • (903) 845-2811

    Decorate Ornate

    • 202 S. Main St.
    • (903) 845-7800

    Gee Bee’s Uniques and Antiques

    • 117 S. Main St.
    • (903) 986-4038

    Gladewater Antique Mall

    • 100 E. Commerce Ave.
    • (903) 845-4440

    Little Bit Tattered

    • 111 E. U.S. 80
    • (661) 378-8481

    Now & Then Antique Mall

    • 109 W. Commerce Ave.
    • (903) 845-5765

    Over The Hill Antiques

    • 110 N. Main St.
    • (903) 374-2518

    The Screen Door Antique Mall

    • 106 E. Commerce Ave.
    • (903) 985-1133

    St. Clair Antique Emporium

    • 104 W. Pacific Ave.
    • (903) 845-4079

    Yesterday’s Treasurers

    • 105 W. Commerce Ave.
    • (903) 845-7800

JEFFERSON

    Brayden & Company

    • 129 N. Walnut St.
    • (903) 665-2762

    Gold Leaf Antique Mall

    • 122 N. Polk St.
    • (903) 665-2882

    Granny Had It

    • 121 N. Polk St.
    • (903) 665-3148

    Haley’s Antiques

    • 409 N. Polk St.
    • (903) 665-8563

    Jefferson Antique Mall

    • 224 N. Walnut St.
    • (903) 665-8852

    Old Mill Antiques

    • 210 E. Austin St.
    • (903) 665-8601

    Three Rivers Antiques

    • 115 N. Walnut St.
    • (903) 665-8721

    Walnut Street Market

    • 121 N. Walnut St.
    • (903) 665-8864

LONGVIEW

    Betty’s Antiques

    • 414 E. Cotton St.
    • (903) 753-8204

    Blue Door Antiques

    • 1311 Alpine Road
    • (903) 758-7592

    George Preston’s Antiques

    • 205 N. Center St.
    • (903) 753-8041

    Greggton Antique Mall

    • 3422 W. Marshall Ave.
    • (903) 759-9491

    Methvin St. Antique Mall

    • 504 E. Methvin St.
    • (903) 553-9656

    Pittypat’s Porch Antiques and Quality Kitsch

    • 3712 W. Marshall Ave.
    • (903) 297-4543

MARSHALL

    Blissmoor Valley Ranch

    • Company Store
    • 208 N. Washington Ave.
    • (903) 472-4550

    J. Weisman & Co.

    • 211 N. Washington Ave.
    • (903) 934-8836

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