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Home goods
Great finds await on Milwaukee's secondhand market

Photos by Dan Bishop

January 2013

Kitschy-cool is the vibe at Tip-Top Atomic Shop in Bay View. The store specializes in vintage and replica items from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

When Clinton Street Antiques in Milwaukee opened its doors in 1992, country primitive and Victorian pieces were all the rage among collectors. But during the past 20 years, Douglas Quigley, who co-owns the shop with Curtis Peck, has seen a monumental shift in the market. Collectors today are shunning the Victorian period in favor of midcentury modern design — furniture and home accessories from the 1950s and 1960s marked by simplicity, clean lines and organic forms. "Victorian has died a slow death," Quigley says. "You can’t give it away."

So where can you hunt for vintage treasures for your home, midcentury modern and otherwise? Browse the list of Milwaukee-area antique stores and secondhand shops below for inspiration.

Antiques on Second

Spanning 37,000 square feet over three floors, this Walker’s Point antique mall, which opened in July 2010, is home to 200 dealers. "There’s something for everyone," says co-owner Brian Belli of the mall’s expansive collection of unique and interesting antiques, vintage glassware, furniture, postcards, artwork and sports and beer memorabilia. "A lot of the purchases people make are because of nostalgia," Belli says. "They’re items that bring back memories of childhood or family." Whether you’re seeking chrome kitchen furniture, circa 1950, or retro print advertising and signage, you’re bound to find it here.

1039 S. 2nd St., (414) 645-9640,

Antiques and Uniques on Main

Formerly known as Fox River Antiques, Antiques and Uniques in downtown Waukesha boasts the largest selection of architectural antiques and artifacts in the metropolitan Milwaukee area. The lower level of the store, which encompasses 1,500 square feet, is dedicated to an expansive collection of architectural antiques, including stained glass, fireplace mantels, decorative cast and wrought iron, finials and newels, and period lighting. 250 W. Main St., Waukesha, (262) 844-1819,

Blackhawk Antique Market

Collectors who favor modern classic will want to check out Blackhawk Antiques in Walker’s Point. A variety of antique dealers operate booths in the sprawling historic building that owner Jim Dieter restored in the early 2000s. The selection of quality designer furniture, including Knoll and Eames pieces, stands out, but visitors will also find scores of other antiques from artwork to jewelry to glassware to knickknacks.

633 S. 12th St., (414) 385-9999

Chattel Changers

Chattel Changers stocks its Shorewood store with items that customers bring in on consignment or from "clean outs," which involves removing all household items from a home to get it ready for the next owners. David Kascht, who co-owns the 40-year-old business with partner Laura Davis, says the practice has proved more lucrative than traditional estate sales. Shoppers can find an assortment of furniture, home décor and artwork that spans several generations. Prices range from just a few dollars for knickknacks to several hundred dollars for upscale artwork.

2520 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood, (414) 961-7085,

Clinton Street Antiques

This small, eclectic antiques shop in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood features a variety of quirky and classic collectibles. Appealing to a wide variety of tastes, everything in the 1,000-square-foot store is priced to move, says co-owner Douglas Quigley. Visitors can find architectural and industrial salvage, vintage advertisements and signage, primitive pieces and collectibles from several different eras.

1110 S. First St., (414) 732-6371,

Fox Lake Country Antique Mall

Visitors to the Fox Lake Country Antique Mall will want to set aside an afternoon to explore the vast array of antiques and collectibles on hand, according to owner Cindy Budde. The multivendor marketplace features vintage clothing, kitchen utensils, glassware and ceramics, old currency and a large collection of breweriana, including beer cans, bottles, openers, tin signs and serving trays.

201 N. Fowler St., Oconomowoc, (262) 560-8090,

Generations Consignment Interiors

Kim Meils, who co-owns Generations Consignment Interiors with husband Ted, revels in finding practical uses for cast-off furnishings. Glance around their Cedarburg shop and you’ll find wooden ladders that have been turned into quilt racks and salvaged card catalogs converted into tables and home storage units. "It’s our mission to make something old new again," she says. Meils classifies the store’s consignment inventory as modern traditional with a nod toward shabby chic.

W62 N556 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, (262) 376-2966,

Legacies Ltd.

Visit this North Shore consignment shop for showroom quality collectibles. Proprietor Barbara Vitucci-Wade describes the store’s wide assortment of antiques and collectibles, which includes china, silver, crystal, jewelry and fine art, as eclectic. Customers — many of whom visit the store just for its nostalgia factor — are currently snapping up copper cookware, brass candlesticks and antique ornaments. "People come in and reminisce about similar things they used to see in their grandmother’s house," Vitucci-Wade says.

7922 N. Port Washington Road, Fox Point (414) 352-8114,

Riverview Antique Market

From elegant to funky and all things in between, Riverview Antique Market in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward is home to approximately 50 private antique dealers. The 15,000-square-foot warehouse is crammed full of eclectic furniture, musical instruments and toys, authentic circus posters, old books and knickknacks. Customers will appreciate the range of 20th century antiques from arts and crafts to art nouveau and art deco to Machine Age. Merchandise is priced from $3 to $4,000.

175 S. Water St., Milwaukee, (414) 278-9999,

Samara Garden and Home

Located in Milwaukee’s historic Washington Heights neighborhood, Samara Garden and Home is part garden shop, part art gallery, part antique dealer. The store’s inventory of fine art, historic lighting and garden ornaments ranges from art deco to modern, dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. Co-owner Stewart Dempsey says it’s not unusual to find suits of armor and grand pianos intermingled with original artwork by Wisconsin artists and vintage hardware. Art openings, garden shows and an assortment of classes are another draw for this distinctive shop.

5211 W. North Ave., Milwaukee, (414) 793-6072,

Tip-Top Atomic Shop

Would you define your style as crazy cool retro? Then be sure to stop in the Tip-Top Atomic Shop in Bay View. The store specializes in vintage and replica items from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, including collectibles, antiques and jewelry. You’ll also find Eames era home furnishings and kitschy-cool accent pieces like lamps, vases and clocks.

2343 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 486-1951,

Waukesha Antique Mall

With more than 75 dealers, Waukesha Antique Mall is a treasure trove of unique finds. Shoppers are treated to complimentary coffee and cookies while they browse the mall’s eclectic offerings. Some dealers like Time Machine Toyz features vintage records, sports memorabilia, collectible toys and Atari games, but there are plenty of traditional antiques and collectibles to be found too.

1427 E. Racine Ave., Waukesha, (262) 524-0600


This story ran in the January 2013 issue of: