Whether it’s the thrill of a blood-pumping challenge—an Olympic-sized retail excursion with yesteryear’s treasures replacing the gold medal—or the joy found in brushing away the dust from old film, antique shops throughout Ohio have been feeding treasure hunters’ appetites for years. These Meccas house many of the most unique finds in the state and are only a short drive away. Let the quest begin.Waynesville, OhioIt’s only proper to begin your adventure 40 miles away in Waynesville, the Antiques Capital of the Midwest (so says the chamber of commerce) and nucleus of Ohio’s antiquing world, with more than a dozen shops. Start your search under the green awning of Buggy Wheel Antiques, one of the newest old-stuff emporiums in town. The eight dealers housed inside offer up everything from jewelry to furniture, including two prized roll top beds (a treasure in the eyes of furniture collectors). For those seeking nourishment for their quest, Lilly’s Corner Mall is conveniently adjacent to Lilly’s Café, where you can sample restorative soups, sandwiches, coffee, and assorted sodas. The 7,600-square-foot mall began life as a theater and a Ford dealership. The popcorn machine and sedans are long gone, but the 27 dealers who now call this building home can fix you up with just about everything else. And there’s more: Mad Anthony Curio Mall—a former doctor’s office from the 1800s—houses about 30 dealers and maintains an eclectic repertoire that includes items such as arrowheads, coins, quartz, and stones. If all this sounds like too much to handle in one day, Sugar Camp Cottages (937-382-6075) offers a rural retreat about 12 minutes from many of the antique shops. For local grub, dig in at the Village Family Restaurant, a Waynesville staple for the past 30 years. Their pies are homemade, and peanut butter is their specialty. waynesvilleohio.comGlendale, KentuckyAlong with laid-back small-town charm, you’ll find a few modern twists in Glendale (about two-and-a-half hours southwest). The 66-room Green Top Antiques & Collectibles has set up faux living and dining rooms throughout, providing shoppers with decor ideas. It’s like buying from a home magazine sans shipping and handling. Glendale Antique Mall, with its 12 vendors, also goes the extra mile: Twenty-plus years ago, the original owner built an adjunct cabin, complete with a working fireplace. A short walk away, Side Track Shops stocks a former drugstore with antique lamps, garden furniture, glassware, and dishes. Customers flock here for the antique lamps. Want to spend the weekend? Locals recommend Maple Cottage (maplecottageglendale.com), a three-bedroom retreat complete with a full kitchen, formal dining room, and two fireplaces. And be sure to visit the Whistle Stop for hot cheese bites, meatloaf, fried chicken, and a southern-fried catfish dinner. Glendale, KentuckyMadison, IndianaThis historic river town just 70 miles west is peppered with coffee shops, quaint eateries, and a magnificent riverfront, making the antique shops just one of many treats. River West Antiques, with over 60 vendors, houses its collectibles in a former hardware store, where ample rooms provide a spacious canvas for the array of booths. You’ll find all sorts of treasures, including antique dishware and retro jewelry. Sugar Creek Collectibles, on the other side of town, is a relatively new addition to the scene, being open for only four years. Its shelves are filled with home decor items, particularly cast iron cookware and modern day barn quilts. The nearly 80 dealers in the three-story Lumber Mill Antique Mall combine the best of both River West and Sugar Creek. They sell new and old items, including antique books, videos, furniture, glass, hardware, and tools among a vast assortment of other items. To round out your weekend, check into Madison Vineyards Estate Winery and Bed & Breakfast (madisonvineyards.com) where you can unwind and try local wines. For casual eats, try The Red Pepper’s gourmet sandwiches or visit 605 Grille for a craft beer and entrees that focus on locally produced ingredients. visitmadison.orgLebanon, OhioWalk into Charles Gerhardt Antiques, and you may feel like you’ve just stepped into another world. Owner Charles Gerhardt sells a very different kind of antique: ancient Asian objects and tribal primitives as well as African masks and sculptures. The niche collection also includes Peruvian ceramics and an assemblage of Chinese art, including terra-cotta, stone carvings, and jade pieces that date to between 3000 and 5000 B.C. For a more traditional shopping experience, The Lemon Tree, just down the street, has something for everyone. Male shoppers often visit here for old railroad maps, railroad lanterns, and other train parts while women opt for lamps, mirrors, and furniture dating back to the Victorian era. The 16-year-old business prides itself on low prices, making competition fierce. For a sweet reward post-shopping, head to Village Ice Cream Parlor for burgers, fries, and chilled confections. And you won’t have to go far to relax: bed and breakfast Silver High Manor (silverhighmanor.com) is conveniently located downtown.historicdowntownlebanon.com
Photograph courtesy Lilly’s CornerOriginally published in the February 2012 issue
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