My Lunch Box Is Vintage?

I ventured into some antique stores on Saturday. This display of vintage lunchboxes caught my eye so I stopped to study a few. Most I had seen before but there were a few surprises.

Remember how fun it was to pick out a new lunch box for school?

From Disney to your favorite tv show or band, your lunch box was an opportunity to celebrate something that you really liked and wanted the world (other kids at least) to know about.

When I first started school, they were all still metal. The transition to plastic models occurred during my elementary years and I recall having a couple that were plastic but it seems like they didn’t hold up very well.

Imagine my mixture of glee and despair when I realized that my own childhood lunchbox was mixed in with all these “vintage” pieces!

Yes, my childhood possessions now appear in antique stores. And they’re not cheap! Strawberry Shortcake here was $38.00!

One of the beautiful things about antiquing is that you can find pop culture references, pieces of history, works of art and occasionally, things that that are just strange.

G.C. Murphy

Do you remember G.C. Murphy? The five and dime chain was founded in Pittsburgh in 1906 and acquired by the Ames department store chain in the mid eighties.

The stores typically had a popular lunch counter and are sometimes confused with Woolworth stores. They met their demise in 2002.

Downtown Gallipolis has some interesting features including this old GC Murphy storefront which faces the city park. It’s an antique/craft mall now.

There are a handful of antique stores in Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, West Virginia just across the Ohio River. The city park is a nice place to picnic and there are some good restaurants there too. Go during the holidays for a beautiful display of Christmas lights.

There Was A Time

There was a time you could pick up a cool old coffee can for under $10. I have a few in my collection of random stuff – two hold flowers on the back porch and there are two or three in my kitchen too. All are missing the lids so they came for the bargain basement price of about five bucks.

I’ve seen many coffee cans lately but they’re going for upwards $20 and sometimes $30-$40 regardless of condition. These were over $50.

The market drives the prices but it’s shocking how quickly the tide turns and the prices rise.

Another item that has become almost too expensive to collect is records. In one of these bins, I found a Nat King Cole album that I purchase a couple of years ago for $2. Here it was $18.

The average album price in this antique mall was about $13 but many reissues of albums go for about $16. Since all the cool kids are going vintage I’m guessing prices will only continue to increase.

What do you collect that has seen a rise in prices?

Indiana’s Antique Alley

If you enjoy treasure hunting, the National Road in Indiana is rich with antique malls and nice local shops. In fact, there are two antique trails that start in Richmond – one that is largely in western Ohio and another that follows the National Road west to Plainfield. This is the route I followed, picking up a few other stores on the Ohio side as well.

The National Road is four lane through most of Indiana, meandering through small towns and burgs with quaint architecture, fun local diners and cute stores.

My favorite treasure hunting spot along the way was probably Cambridge City which is home to more than a dozen antique stores and malls. This is a friendly, tidy little town where you could easily spend a day or more depending on how serious you are and how quickly you shop. Nearby Centerville has a number of stores including a large mall where I found a great train case and a few other unique bargains.

If you’re venturing further west, Gilley’s Antique Mall in Plainfield is worth the drive. It’s a large antique and craft mall that’s packed with stuff.

Even further west, Shady Lane Antique Mall was perhaps my favorite store this trip. It’s in an old motel and filled to the brim with good quality vintage and antique items. The owners and the people working there were so friendly and helpful that I truly felt wanted and welcome in their store. More than that, I found bargains! Records, vintage jewelry, story books, small advertising pieces, linens – I honestly don’t even remember what all I bought here. They said the vendors are all good to rotate stock and make an effort to keep things fresh about every week, something you simply don’t see in a lot of these places. It was well worth the drive and I’m already plotting to go back this year.

If you’re thinking about doing these trails, my advice is to check out the Richmond/Wayne County Visitors Center¬†and be sure to request the Antique Alley brochures. They were a huge help, easy to follow and mark up as you go.

Where’s your favorite antique store? Tell me in the comments – I’m always looking for ideas!