The art of antiquing bonds students with history and connections to one another

An+all-encompassing+photo+of+inside+the+antique+store%2C+Century+Antiques.

Jessie Warren

An all-encompassing photo of inside the antique store, Century Antiques.

By Meghan Kennedy, Forest Hills Central High School

A trip to an antique store is unique to each person who chooses to venture into the expansive collections of pre-owned items; for some, it’s energizing, but for others, it’s overwhelming. For sophomore Emalea Rooke, it’s cathartic.

“Antiquing is really calming for me,” Emalea said. “It’s something that I find a lot of joy in, and [I love] being able to connect with pieces that I can find that belonged to other people that might be a little older and have some history to them.”

The world of antiquing has increasingly gained popularity within the past year, but for Emalea, it has always been a favorite pastime of theirs. Emalea was engrossed in the world of antiques when they were around seven years old—ever since then, antique stores have anchored them into stability.

After each passing year, Emalea has blossomed an even stronger fervor for antique stores and the stories written in their inventories—one thing that brings them an even more blissful experience while perusing the shelves of antiques is seeking out the history behind each item.

“I feel like [buying an antique] makes the piece more intimate and more thought-provoking,” said Emalea. “I have this old copy of this book called Telegraph Boy. The reason why it’s my favorite is because inside, there’s actually a little note from the very early 1900s from a lady, Mildred, who wrote a letter to a person who was giving this book to another person. I got this book to read, and then going home and opening it up to be able to see that there was so much more to this antique that I had found was such an amazing experience.”

In accordance with the meaning that history places on an antique, the path towards finding it can be just as impactful. For junior Ben Lutz, the process of discovering an antique is part of what makes the experience whole.

“The best part of [antiquing] is that you never know what you’re going to find,” Ben said. “Every time you go, you know there’s going to be new stuff there, and you might stumble upon something you really love. It’s that sense of discovery you get every single time you go. You think, ‘Hey, I’m gonna find something new this time. I wonder if I’m gonna find something I’m gonna be able to treasure for the rest of my life.’ Maybe [it’s] just that sense of anticipation.”

When it comes to Ben’s taste in antiquated items, the clothing rack is where he finds himself most often. Along with purchasing magazines here and there, Ben uncovers unique, vintage garments that help accentuate his personal style and sense of self.

“I have a lot of vintage clothing I really love,” Ben said. “One of my favorite parts of [antiquing] is finding clothing. I have this very funky skirt I found, and I love it so much. It’s very colorful and vibrant.”

But solo-antiquing does not quite compare to hitting the shops with friends for Ben. With good company, Ben finds his adventures in antique stores to be far more fruitful and rich with finds that he cherishes.

“The highlight of antiquing for me is always going with my friends, making memories, and finding things together,” said Ben, firm in his belief for group antiquing trips. “I always love doing it with people. I think looking at clothes together and trying stuff on is always so much fun and [with] being around other people, antiquing is always great.”

Sophomore Olivia Oorbeck additionally feels a strong sense of connection to people through her antiquing endeavors—in fact, the art of antiquing is rooted in family tradition.

Olivia finds bountiful memories in antique trips with her dad. When Olivia’s dad was young, he explored antique shops with his parents, just as she does now—it’s turned into a generational hobby that connects several members of Olivia’s family to one other.

“My dad started taking me to antique stores,” Olivia said. “One of the first times I went with him, we were walking around and talking about everything. He was finding old comics and telling me [about] his childhood and how [those things] reminded him of what happened then. It was a really good bonding moment.”

Because Olivia associates these formative memories with antique stores, they have turned into places to discover the whims of what nostalgia has to offer—this applies to the realm of music. Once Olivia became familiar with antique stores, she grew a liking for vinyls and record players.

The best part of [antiquing] is that you never know what you’re going to find.”

“I am a big collector of vinyls,” Olivia said. “I like collecting different kinds of vinyls and finding collectors. I’ve found some pretty cool antique vinyls, like the original Star Wars movie’s album.”

Olivia relishes these antiques she purchases and finds even more contentment in the price points they are sold at. Since she is wary of how she spends her money, Olivia chooses to purchase from antique businesses that accommodate more affordable, sustainable goods.

“[Antiquing] is a lot cheaper than buying first hand,” Olivia said. “Knowing that [the items] have been used at some point and [knowing the old saying about] how one man’s trash is someone else’s treasure [rings true for me.] The stuff that people give away is treasure for me because I just love all of the retro and the older things. I [found] a very old 1970s record player. I had been looking for one for years and trying to find a really good one and [one] finally popped up for a reasonable price and I was like, ‘Might as well.’”

Aside from just personal benefits, antiquing has the power to bring good to the overarching community. Supporting antique stores means fueling local businesses, preserving the environment, and upholding a more ethical lifestyle. Beyond that, antiquing can link people together through a shared love for pre-loved products.

“I think that by antiquing, you could be opening up your world to so many more possibilities that you might not have open right now,” said Emalea, furthering their stance on the benefits of antiquing. “So if you are not antiquing, then you should be.”

As far as getting involved in antiquing, a good point to start is to simply seek out a close location and open the mind to the several possibilities antiquing elicits. Sometimes, it is just about diving in without any expectations of what to do or find—just relax into the shelves, display cases, and racks of vintage keepsakes.

“The best thing you can do is just get started,” Ben said. “Find somewhere near you that you think you would enjoy and go there and search for however long you need to and see what you can find. Hopefully, that sparks a passion in you for [antiquing] like it did for me.”

This story was originally published on The Central Trend on January 31, 2022.