Antique Shopping in Birmingham

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Antique shopping is a creative outlet for me. While some might consider a spa trip to be the ultimate in “self-care,” give me an antique store to peruse and I will leave refreshed, with my creative sparks flying.

For me, antique shopping is less about interior design and more about memories and storytelling. I tend to collect antique knick-knacks more than furniture. These treasures recall for me fond memories of my childhood home and summers spent in the homes of grandparents.

Below are a few of the things I enjoy collecting.

Small, Colored bottles

These tiny, uniquely shaped, colorful bottles remind me of my mother. She loves colored glass. When I was growing up, she displayed red or blue vases in a sunny window. I loved to get really close to the vases and peer through them to make the outside world rose-colored or blue.

Now, I display my collection of tiny bottles in my office window where I write. I love how the light filters through the bottles and casts a colorful reflection on the windowsill.  When my Granny found out my love for these bottles, she began to collect them for me on her antique store trips. She also gave me several from her own collection.

Mid-century Porcelain Dog and Cat Figurines

Every summer during my elementary years, I spent at least one week with my Granny and Granddaddy in East Texas. I reveled in their one-on-one attention, a rare commodity with two older siblings at home. During those summers I slept in the guest bedroom, which once served as the bedroom for my father and his brother. The headboard of the guest bed had a shelf built-in and on that shelf stood three porcelain dogs, one for each brother in the family. I would carefully pick up each one, study them, and think of my adored dog back home. Was he missing me as much as I missed him?

I love to collect these porcelain dogs and feel giddy when I find a new breed. I’ve even added a few cats to my collection. These figurines take me back to hot, East Texas summers with nothing to do but play Skip-Bo with Granny, Beenie-Weenie with dominoes, climb trees, and sit on the swing each evening with my grandparents watching the neighborhood cars go by.

Embroidery Samples

When I was a kid, my mother took up cross-stitching as a hobby. As a result, every room in our house boasted a framed cross-stitched saying or scene. Some were wise sayings, like “we grow old too soon and wise too late.” That one hung in the bathroom offering ample time for contemplation. “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” That one hung in the kitchen as a not-so-subtle reminder to not overindulge. And of course, there was the classic “now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take.” This one hung right above my bed. As a girl prone to imaginings, this terrifying prayer led to much worry over dying in my sleep.

Framed embroidery is among my favorite things to collect. I even like the crewel-work that was popular in the 1970’s. Anything with flowers is always at the top of my list.

Mis-matched Teacups and Saucers

Speaking of flowers, teacups and saucers always have my heart. I started collecting these when we lived in Jacksonville, Florida. On the days my older children were in Mother’s Day Out (MDO), I would often grab a scone and coffee from the local bakery, buckle my 12-week-old Luisa into the ErgoBaby carrier, and head to one of Jacksonville’s many antique stores. I always managed to find a dainty porcelain floral teacup before needing to pick the big kids up from MDO. For Luisa’s one-year birthday celebration I went with a tea party theme, decorating the table with the dozens of cups we gathered shopping together in our year of Florida antiquing. Forever those teacups will remind me of Luisa’s first year of life.  

Birmingham offers several antique stores to get lost in on days I need a little break from the every day, or when I need to remember there’s more to life than just the here and now.

Birmingham Antique Shops

Hanna Antique finds!

Hanna Antiques Mall

This store is located downtown on 7th Ave. South. This large antique mall boasts loads of vintage jewelry as well as furniture and knick-knacks. There’s a small wall of cast iron skillets as well as second-hand books throughout. Before you head in, get an energy boost by stopping for a chocolate croissant and cappuccino at Birmingham Breadworks, located next door.

Trussville Antiques and Interiors

This one is worth the short drive to Trussville. Individual antique sellers have set up shop in the abandoned rooms of this nursing home turned antique mall. There’s something mysterious and a bit eerie about rummaging through another’s treasures in a converted nursing home. I like to allow my imagination to run wild. Was that the brooch that secured her shawl that she put on for her visitors? Were those the crystal glasses her children chose to sell after her death? (What, you don’t make up stories like this when perusing old treasures?) Just in case you prefer more of the new and modern, this antique mall also boasts an extensive collection of Magnolia Home furniture and rugs.

Homewood Antiques and Marketplace

Located amongst the shops and restaurants of Edgewood, this store also contains several booths from artists, including original jewelry and handmade children’s clothing. If you find a piece of furniture needing to be recovered there is an in-house re-upholstery service! Head to Edgewood Creamery for a treat after your shopping or Taco Mama for lunch afterwards!

Tricia’s Treasures

If you like to dig and hunt for your treasures this is a great place to go! They have unique, interesting finds. I once purchased beautiful handmade Venetian gold-gilded frames from this store. Located near downtown Homewood.

What’s On Second

If you are looking for an excursion sure to put a smile on your face, I highly recommend browsing this store. A great place for collectors, you will find all kinds of treasures from comic books to postcards to vintage toys that are sure to bring back memories from childhood.

Urban Suburban finds!

Urban Suburban

This is yet another place to make you smile! Each booth is unique, some offering beautiful glassware while others lean towards mid-century finds. I almost bought the cutest 1950’s swimsuit here but, alas, sizing has changed quite a bit in the last seven decades!

Online Options

Just in case you want a more curated experience that you can enjoy from your couch, the following are a few of my favorite Instagram antique sellers: Tew Good Finds, Parris Flea Market, Linwood Loot, and Stash.

Christmas Around the Corner

With Christmas around the corner, consider purchasing something unique for your friends. If you do this, then you will be able to offer a story from your antique adventure to go along with the gift!

I’m wondering, do you collect any antique treasures? What are your favorite Birmingham antiquing stores?

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Sarah is a native Texan. Growing up, if she wasn’t in a tree channeling her inner Anne Shirley, she was riding her bike on adventures through Texas pasture land. Sarah fell in love with her best friend Tony after they shared an on-stage kiss in their high school play, Arsenic and Old Lace. Together Sarah and Tony attended Baylor University where Sarah received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Sarah practiced as a speech therapist for several years before moving to Birmingham for Tony’s residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. After a brief stint in Jacksonville, Florida, Tony and Sarah moved back to Birmingham where they now live with their four children, Sophia (age 11), Vincent (age 10), Luisa (age 6), and Grace (age 3). Sarah juggles managing her home and caring for her four children, while also pursuing her passion for writing. She is currently editing the manuscript for her first book, a memoir of her motherhood journey through Luisa’s diagnosis with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disease that has left her daughter with multiple disabilities. Sarah believes that life’s contradictions are merely an invitation. Her writing focuses on the intersection of faith with brokenness, and the extraordinary beauty that can be found in the ordinary days of motherhood. You can follow her on Instagram @morlandt1201 or read her writing at morlandt.blogspot.com.

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