The Art of Antiquing

Uncovering high desert treasures from the past

The age-old passion for antiquing is alive and well in the high desert with the abundance of antique and vintage shops to be found here. Central Oregon loves its history, and artifacts from days gone by are being retrieved and revitalized, adding character to homes with their patina of style and personality. Whether you’re looking for furniture, collectibles or vintage memorabilia, local antique stores are the perfect place to find treasures from the past.

People are drawn to antiquing for many reasons. Some enjoy the memories that old objects evoke, while others are addicted to the discovery of rare finds, like perhaps a Rothko painting hidden behind an old mirror or a first edition Melville novel. There’s nothing like the rush of uncovering that one perfect item (and potential family heirloom) when you step inside an antique treasure trove and dive into its sea of used goods. If you’re new to the antiquity arena, here are a few need-to-know hacks of the trade that you can use to heighten your antiquing prowess, resulting in spoils you’ll be proud to take home.

Focus Your Search

Before you head to the antique store, make a list of what you want because trying to find the gems among the “junque” can be very overwhelming. If you plan in advance you’re less likely to miss that something special you’ve been looking for, as well as get sidetracked by those porcelain figurines of cats.

Buy What You Love

There is one golden rule when buying antiques: only buy what you love. If something appeals to your sense of style or your idea of beauty, you’re likely to keep it for many years to come rather than adding it to next year’s garage sale. And if your heart is set on something, buy it quickly so you won’t be filled with regret later on if you return and someone else has snatched it up!

It’s Polite To Stare

Never be afraid to pick up antiques while browsing—you always want to inspect the item thoroughly before you purchase it. Look at it from odd angles. Get touchy-feely. Evaluate the condition of the piece before you commit to buying it because most antique stores don’t offer refunds or exchanges. Also, ask the shopkeeper about the history of the item. A piece is always more interesting and significant if you know where it came from and its original purpose.

Haggling Is Key

In the world of antiquing, dealers expect you to negotiate on the price, so don’t be afraid to bargain. Also, don’t assume you can’t negotiate just because the owners aren’t on hand to haggle; the staff generally has advance permission to reduce the price a bit. And always bring cash for extra leverage. If you happen to only have a certain amount left in your pocket, sometimes the vendor will come down on the price.

Finding antique items of good design and beauty that resonate with your tastes is an adventure worth embarking on. So enjoy the hunt, and love the find!

kalamazoos3_534_800Iron Horse  

210 Northwest Congress St., Bend  •  541-382-5175

Iron Horse is a store of controlled chaos comprised of antique, vintage and modern merchandise. Inside its labyrinth of small rooms you’ll find everything from vintage tools and Western wear to antique furniture and metal yard décor. Whether you’re looking for reproduction pieces or architectural antique salvage material to add character to your home, take a look at this store of eclectic collectibles.

Kalamazoo’s Antique Mall  

221 West Cascade Ave., Sisters  •  541-549-1150

Located right in the middle of Sisters’ main drag, Kalamazoo’s consists of over 40 vendors under one roof proffering a wide gamut of antique and vintage treasures. This large shop is overflowing with antique jewelry, luggage, dishware, toys, books and knick-knacks of all kinds. The inventory moves quickly at this popular antique destination, so you’ll find something new each time you visit.

Beyond the Ranch Antiques  

339 Southwest Evergreen Ave., Redmond  •  541-279-4867

Beyond the Ranch Antiques caters to collectors of all things Northwest. As self-proclaimed “purveyors of the Old West and the Central Oregon landscape,” Beyond the Ranch specializes in Western clothes and boots, horse tack, Native American art and memorabilia and décor of all kinds. Don’t miss this rustic establishment; they have everything including the kitchen sink! (Literally, it’s out back.)

Antique Alley  

896 Northwest Madras Hwy., Prineville  •  541-416-2623

Antique Alley is filled with diverse finds, but specializes in antique furniture and art. Inside this modest shop you’ll find old glassware, pottery, classic art, Native American art, and antique and refurbished furniture.


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