A favorite way to entertain out-of-town guests (and myself) is by paying a visit to Buffalo Niagara’s antique shops. Thanks to our heritage as one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, there’s a wonderful mix of treasures for those who enjoy the hunt, from funky retro to high Victorian; mission to art deco and mid-century modern. After day of browsing, I’m inspired to see my own mish-mash of furnishings in a new light and usually end up rearranging something. Whether it’s the living room furniture or a wall of yard sale art finds – I get stimulated!
There are a slew of great places where my imagination and wallet get all worked up. If I’m organized I bring room measurements, fabric swatches, a tape measure, CASH (if possible) and an open mind. Most dealers are willing to work with you on price, and the difference between paying by credit card and with greenbacks is often a hefty discount. Money definitely talks in an antique store or flea market.
I love to visit Moda (1493 Hertel Ave.) because the owner, Lucy Perrone-Mancuso, has impeccable taste and a fabulous selection of merchandise from designer sofas to vintage evening gowns. The well-crafted costume jewelry in her cases beats the heck out of the lightweight mass-produced trinkets you find in big box stores. And it was after a visit to Moda that I finally got the courage to toss out a dining room set, aptly called depression furniture, and replace it with a much cooler 1960s version. It makes me happy every time I set the table.
A little off the beaten track on Chandler Street sits a massive 19th century brick warehouse complex that contains two very different stores. HorseFeathers Architectural and Hollywood Hank’s at 37 Chandler and CooCooU27 (at #27) could take weeks to fully explore but are worth the hunt. Hollywood Hank’s and Horsefeathers boasts 20,000 square feet of architectural artifacts including massive doors, lighting fixtures, signs, stained glass windows, furnishings and memorabilia. It’s not for the faint of heart. Right next door, Michael Merisola’s CooCooU27 offers three huge floors filled to the rafters with industrial, mid-century, retro, Victorian – you name it, he’s got it. This is another shop where the owner’s depth of knowledge provides a wealth of information to novices and pros alike. On one excursion, my friend bought her husband a ball and chain, (the kind you see in old prison movies), as a gag Valentine’s present for “the man who has everything.” I’ve scored a variety of goodies myself, from a vintage set of bongo drums to a classic lounge chair from the 1950s.
So my advice is to brace and pace yourself. Don’t go antique hunting with an empty wallet or stomach. Bring a bottle of water and some patience. Resist the temptation to buy the first thing you fall in love with – but remember it might not be there if you don’t! This sport takes imagination, guts and timing, and for my money it’s a great way to spend a day (or weekend)!