The Benefits of Antique Shopping in a Small Southern Town

Visiting a small southern town.

Visiting small southern towns is the perfect way to spend a day or a weekend. It’s a few steps back into a slower pace and a look into a culture all of its own.

Recently while on a work trip with my husband Jay, I got to go explore the little town of Tunica, Mississippi. I parked downtown under a shade tree and walked along the sidewalks bordering old brick buildings with awnings and wooden window frames.

Walking through a small southern town.

Jay and Gina from Urban Southern.

Regina Tote in a small southern town.

I stepped inside a little store that didn’t have a name above the door, but it had lots of antiques stacked in the windows. An old man sat inside, chewing tobacco and reading the news on his iPad. He looked at my cowgirl boots and asked if I was riding and shooting at the CMSA (Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association) National Championships down the road.

I said, “No I don’t ride, but I like to wear my boots so I fit in over there!”

Regina Bauman, from Urban Southern.

He laughed, and I told him my husband sells saddles to the shooters.

He told me he collected all the antiques himself, and his favorite things to find are old clocks and watches. I stepped around stacks of old boxes and crates of vintage clock parts to look at some antique jewelry in the display case. There were no prices on anything. I asked if he would show me a few of the clocks, so he pulled himself out of his chair by the window and shuffled over behind the tall counter.

From deep within the dusty shelves, he drew out an antique silver alarm clock that winds up… I almost dropped it when he handed it to me because it was so heavy.

“It was made in the 1930s,” he told me.

I looked at the tiny alarm face within the clock face and felt the history of the hours it had kept. “Wind it up and it still keeps time,” he assured me as he carefully wound the timepiece.

I heard it start ticking, and remembered having a ticking alarm clock on my nightstand as a girl. I asked him how much he wanted for it and he smiled at me, “Twenty dollars and it’s yours!”

I gave him the $20 and carefully put the clock into my leather bag. “Go on down the street and check out the mini mall next door,” he advised as I left his store with my new treasure.

A bright little southern cafe.

The Detla Mini Mall

I went on down the street and stepped into the Delta Mini Mall. Candles, some handmade jewelry, and hand thrown pottery were stacked on the shelves in the front room. Light streamed in the big front windows as I wandered further down the hall. Little rooms opened up on both sides and I saw crates of old coke bottles alongside a few old oil lights that made me think of my grandma’s house. Vintage toys, brass bookends, and milk glass cups lined the shelves of the tiny booths. The lighting was dim and the rooms smelled like dust and old stories.

Finding Antique Treasures Brings Back Wonderful Memories

I kept walking and discovered more rooms that were all filled with antiques. Every time I turned a corner another room came into view. I started feeling excited about what I might see next, it could be anything! I spotted an antique fan sitting on the floor with its’ electric cord trailing around the corner. I just wanted to plug it in and watch the triangular blades turn inside the metal frame and say ahhhhhh into the breeze.

Old, antique fan.

Then I saw an old Hoosier cupboard like my grandma used to have. It had an old metal meat grinder attached to the counter. I felt that warm sense of heritage as I thought of being in my grandma’s kitchen and watching her wrinkled hands rolling out pies and mixing up tapioca pudding.

Dusty old cabinet in an antique shop.

A little red, toy, antique phone caught my eye next. It was wooden and had the mouthpiece with a little earpiece hanging on the side, attached with a string. I immediately saw it in my living room, bringing nostalgia and a sense of years past to my modern marble and copper end table.

Antique, red phone.

Another room held clear glass dishes, with everything from cups and saucers to cream pitchers and dinner plates. I spied a small clear glass pitcher just like my mom used to have. A little hand written tag said it was $15. I tucked it under my arm, immediately picturing my kids pouring their milk or juice out of its’ perfectly curved spout.

An antique water dispenser in a metal cabinet would look amazing in my dining room, but alas, I have a very small house and no extra room for gorgeous antique water dispensers. Even the tinted blue glass jug turned upside down on the top…oh my. I forced myself to walk away.

I’ve never been an antique shopper. I liked to browse TJ Maxx for the latest modern silhouettes, gold candle holders and textured pillow covers. But recently as I’ve started looking for quality, not quantity, my view of antiques has evolved from overrated to appreciation. What draws us to antiques are the stories they hold, however unspoken it may appear.

Items that have been used and loved by others attract us to them because they’ve already lived a life. They’ve been part of someone else’s story, and that holds a fascination for us millennials. We remember our parents using things and keeping them for another use instead of throwing them away. Even as we love to use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, and disposable everything, we remember our mothers washing cups to reuse for the next crowd of hungry guests. We remember the days of sharing toys with our siblings, and the joys of simply window shopping when we went to town.

Quality that Lasts a Lifetime

My mom still uses the dishes that I washed a million times as a girl. Every time I go home and drink out of those little stainless steel glasses, the water tastes like it did when I was 8. In my house, I use clear glasses so that I can see what I’m drinking… but when my kids drop them on the tiled kitchen floor they break. They certainly won’t last long enough for my grandchildren to use.

Appreciating the Stories of the Past

There’s been a shift in how our generation is buying items. We interact and engage with the brands themselves before, during, and after the buying process. It’s important for us to feel valued and noticed by brands before we decide to support them.

I see my generation learning to appreciate the past. We place a premium on convenience, but we also love to remember what was designed and used by the last generation. It’s becoming more and more important to us to know that our possessions have a story.

We like to buy from small creative businesses. We like to frequent authentic boutiques, hotels, and restaurants. We like to know who made the items they are asking us to buy. We want the story and the passion behind the creation. In this digital age, it is easier than ever before for us to know that story before we pull out our plastic cards. We can follow companies on Instagram, watch how it’s made videos, and know the story behind the product before it makes its way to our door in a cardboard box.

So now, I’m an antique shopper. That little store in a small town of Mississippi gave me a flashback to my grandma. It reminded me of another time, a time that was full of simple practicalities. A time that gave us so much. And now, we can search for those items to use and love in our modern homes alongside our smart TVs and IKEA chairs.

Leather Bags with Timeless Quality

Collection of brown leather bags.

That simple, yet timeless, quality is what I strive for in all my leather bag designs. I want to create items that people will still be using in twenty years. Items that will still be relevant, because of their simple practicality.

Mini Market Tote

I see my daughter wanting to carry my bag that I used for years because it’s not only vintage but also still useful. It is still beautiful because of the story it holds.

Leave a Comment