Antique Shops Flourish

Franklin makes ‘antiquing’ fun for all

By Glenda Winders//  Photography submitted

Mention “antiquing” in Indiana and one of the places that immediately comes to mind is Johnson County. But it hasn’t always been this way. Julie Stewart, owner of Salvage Sisters, said when she opened her doors in Franklin almost 14 years ago there was only one other antique store in town. Today, the industry has blossomed with enough different and unusual shops to make the area delight and a destination all its own.
“I think it’s because there is so much to do in Franklin,” Stewart said. “The Artcraft Theater is a draw, and so is the Amphitheater. We have such a variety of shops and restaurants and places to have a beverage. It’s a fun place, a great destination.”
Today, Salvage Sisters is a woman-owned hub where 27 “sisters of the heart” have booths, each curated according to that person’s design style and interests — from furniture and linens to baskets, dishes and much more. Each booth is artistically arranged to be a feast for the senses so that just coming in to browse around can be an adventure.
And if every booth in Stewart’s store has its own personality, so does every antique store in town. Christy Norton, for example, calls her Eclectic Jade shop “vintage.”
“It’s an ever-changing array of home décor, gifts, clothing and all the vintage/boho-inspired things you love,” she said. “Our customer base is a very loyal following of free spirits from all over. Coming to the store is an escape from reality for some. Between the vintage décor and clothing, it’s like taking a step back in time to the ‘70s.”
Her store has been so successful that she has plans to build a larger one. And when people from far away come to look around while they are on vacation, she will pack up their finds and ship them to wherever they live.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Shireman of Vintage Whimsey said her shop just down the street offers a unique mix of vintage, antiques and home décor. She and her husband, Tony, travel all over the country collecting treasurers to keep in stock, including vintage garden accents, pottery, mirrors, jewelry, dresses and books.
What doesn’t go into the store goes to the Johnson County Vintage and Antique Market held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on the second Saturday of every month except June and July. Shireman said she remembers going to the market as a child and when she heard it was closing, she decided to take it over. Now, some 50 to 75 vendors take part, offering quilts, toys, primitives and artisan items. The Shiremans also help out with Whimsy and Blooms each June, when her parents open their remarkable garden for all to see. Antiques are for sale there, too.
Anyone who shops at Madison Street Salvage is actually contributing to a good cause. Director Danny Causey explains that the organization is a 501c3 nonprofit whose inventory consists of donations and whose profit from sales goes to Franklin Heritage Inc., which owns and operates the ArtCraft Theater that Stewart mentioned. Their collection includes architectural salvage, such as stained-glass windows, doors, doorknobs, ornate hinges, fireplace mantels and the like — even a carousel horse. They also have furniture, lamps, chandeliers and whatever donors bring in that needs a home. They employ a small, paid staff, but most of the people who help you while you’re there are unpaid volunteers.
In Bargersville, The Shoppe is a locally owned and operated business specializing in both vintage and handcrafted home-decor items.
“We have 12 vendors who curate their own booths, so we offer a large selection of unique finds,” said owner, Joyce Barker. “Our customers tell us we are a honey hole of hidden gems!”
They also carry Tyler Candle Co. products — a luxury line of candles and scented laundry detergent — and the complete line of Re-Design with Prima products, which includes an extensive offering of stencils, decoupage tissue papers, rice papers and stamps.
Also in Bargersville, stop in at the Pump House, locally owned by Dana and John Christensen, who describe their stock as “a charmingly curated mix of vintage and trendy,” as well as “antique chic.” Their shop, too, is home to multiple vendors, and you are welcome to come in and browse or make an appointment to discuss your own style.
Bay 7 Vintage is the place to go for mid-century décor, toys, games and electronics and, as the owners say, anything that’s cool. They run periodic sales and special events, but they’re only open Fridays and Saturdays, so mark your calendar to make sure to turn up on the right days.
In Greenwood, Emporium 31 is one of several such flea markets set up to serve individual communities. Here you’ll find many vendors and a hit-and-miss collection that changes frequently and ranges from pure junk to rare gems and quality finds. Recent discoveries have been musical instruments, books, dishes, dolls, art pieces and a rattan etagere.
Thanks for the Thyme is a small, cozy shop where you’re likely to find such treasures as an antique, wooden herb cabinet or a typewriter like the one your grandmother once used. Blackbird Nest specializes in antique furniture.
Of course no visit to this area to scavenge for antiques is complete without a stop at the Exit 76 Antique Mall. This mecca for every kind of antique and collectible is home to some 600 vendors in 72,000 square feet of climate-controlled space where the eclectic booths are filled with everything from fine furniture, jewelry and artisan crafts to automotive parts, electronics, books, reclaimed wood, clothing and toys. Small, high-end pieces are locked away in glass cabinets to keep them safe and give you plenty to look at. It is easy to get lost in the aisles upon aisles of possibilities that seem to go on forever. But take heart: There are rest stations throughout the building, so the people in your group who aren’t into poking through other people’s castoffs can take a break, and you can rest and regroup before setting off on your next round of antiquing.