One swelteringly hot afternoon, a man came by hoping to sell Philip Dubey a knife. It was a cake knife, the kind you’d have at a wedding, Dubey said, examining it.
In his shop, Antique Row Stalls, visitors can find more than 10,000 square feet of antiques ranging from 18th century punch bowls made in China to colonial-era maps of the Chesapeake Bay.
Dubey passed on the knife; he likes to know where items come from. “We had a pair of plates that belonged to Dolly Madison,” he said. “So we ate ham sandwiches on them. You have to take this with a grain of salt.”
The area’s popularity as a hub for secondhand goods dates back to the mid-19th century, when Baltimore craftsmen and furniture makers made their trade there, Dubey said. They soon started buying used furniture, to refurbish and sell to new customers. By the 20th century, Antique Row, the 800 block of N. Howard Street, had become a major shopping destination for collectors and everyday enthusiasts.
Today, the row is a shadow of its former self: of the dozens that once crowded the block, only a few antique shops, including Dubey’s remain.
Business owners point to the availability of online auctions, as well as changing consumer habits. “Millennials don’t collect antiques,” Dubey said.
It’s an industry-wide lament; but one that Craig Flinner of Milbrook Antiques disputes. His Hampden shop specializes in historic prints, including maps of Baltimore and brightly-colored vintage ads for dog food, hats and performances.
“We literally sell to people under 30 every day,” Flinner said. While demand for certain items, like china, glassware and brown furniture from the 1930s may not be what it used to, Flinner said, other pieces like prints and mid-century modern furniture remain hot sellers.
Many young shoppers come to the Wishbone Reserve because they are “tired of the West Elm look,” said co-owner Julie Lilienfeld. Outside the quirky Falls Road vintage store, a used boat has been converted into an herb garden. Customers can add some pizzazz to their walls with items like an enormous mask made of macaw feathers. “It’s all about the mix,” Lilienfeld said.
The shop features a vibrant and carefully curated mix of mid-century modern furniture with accents ranging from a collection of portraits to an enormous model train set. Want to make your home look like this? The shop offers interior design, too. “We’re trying to make it more popular to conserve and to circulate what we already have made," says co-owner Julie Lilienfeld.
3811 Falls Road, Hampden. 443-961-3376. wishbonereserve.com
“Random” doesn’t begin to do justice to the assortment of goods one can find at Second Chance, a ginormous warehouse whose awning is visible from Interstate 95. The words "WHAT IS AND WHAT CAN BE” are painted outside in bold orange letters, a mural by artist Steve Powers. Inside, everything from 19th-century wicker wheelchairs to a set of plush movie theater recliners, wooden floors from an old school gymnasium, a porcelain bathtub from the early 1900s, and lots and lots of radiators. The nonprofit trains and employs people who have had difficulty being hired, and most items come from donations and demolitions.
1700 Ridgely St., Pigtown. 410-385-1700. secondchanceinc.org
From its historic Pigtown headquarters, Housewerks sells materials collected from defunct hospitals, churches, factories and schools. Find everything from the stained glass windows of demolished churches to unused chamber pots from old hospitals. “You can’t not take a good photograph here,” says employee Charles Sutherland. The business, open only on the weekends, also hosts the Pigtown Flea Market.
1415 Bayard St., Pigtown. 410-685-8047. housewerkssalvage.com
Craig Flinner Gallery and Millbrook Antiques
There’s Prince fans, and then there are prints fans. The latter will find their Mecca in Baltimore at Millbrook Antiques, a shop that sells original prints, including maps and vintage posters, anywhere from $5 to into the thousands. “It’s all original. That’s the sword we live and die by,” said co-owner Ned Gans, who runs the shop with Craig Flinner, a frequent guest appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow.”
859 West 36th St., Hampden. 410-235-7655. millbrookantiques.com
Antique Row Stalls
The three-story antique shop on Antique Row contains 11,000 square feet of goods, with a focus on Chinese export porcelain and pre-1825 American furniture. “We go from the ridiculous to the sublime,” says owner Philip Dubey. Here, find everything from a rare Chinese export punch bowl to a weather vane from an old Howard Johnson’s.
809 North Howard St., Mt. Vernon. 410-728-6363. antiquerowstalls.wordpress.com
20th Century Gallery
While many customers like to shop online, this Antique Row shop caters to “people who want to see what they’re buying,” says owner Steven Stegner. “It’s fun to browse.” The retired engineer from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sells vintage pottery and paintings from a number of Maryland artists.
825 N. Howard St., Mt. Vernon. 410-728-3800. 20thcenturygallery.com
Charlotte Elliott and The Bookstore Next Door
Fred Hayes speaks in complete sentences, as if perhaps he has read each one of the thousands of books on his shelves at the antique shop and bookstore he runs. The store sells “things that we like, basically," Hayes said. "I collect Oceanic and African art as well as books. Like many collectors, in order to afford my habit I also sell.” Downstairs, his daughter runs a vintage clothing shop.
837 W 36th St., Hampden. 410-243-0990. charlotteelliottinc.com
The shop, frequently voted as among the best in Baltimore, sells an eclectic assortments of decor, furniture and gifts, but specializes in vintage mid-century modern furniture. Upstairs, an orange sectional sofa that looks like it was pilfered from the set of the Brady Bunch is yours for the buying.
1015 W. 36th St., Hampden. 410-243-1317. paradisohampden.com.