“One person’s junk is another person’s treasure” – or so the saying goes. Depending on your perspective, treasures (or junk) abound at more than a dozen antique shops scattered throughout Delaware. Four of them are clustered between Lewes and Milton. Each exudes it own personality in the state’s sphere of antique shops and most of the owners are as unique as the shops themselves.
Driving south on Coastal Highway near Cave Neck Road, it is hard not to spot Heritage Antiques on the west side of the highway just below Hudson Field. Some may be slightly intimidated by the rather imposing brick and wrought iron facade but the brightly lit interior is filled with welcoming cubicles stocked by individual vendors who rent spaces, typical of most antique shops still in business. Heritage’s owner – Susie Hudson – is a member of the well-established Hudson family and she keeps the showroom in tip-top condition.
Want an old spinning wheel? How about some Fiesta Ware or a 1968 poster of Barbra Streisand with the Philadelphia Inquirer Rotocomics on the back? You will find all of this and more at Heritage.
Just five miles west via Cave Neck Road, the town of Milton is home to The Mercantile, another 60 vender-shared space that once was a hardware store. It sits right smack in the heart of town across the street from the Milton Theater on Union Street. The Mercantile is more of a mix of old and new but the two-story layout offers plenty of room for a wide array of products and tastes from vintage collectables to furniture rehab supplies. Owner Lisa Salzarano, who hails from New Jersey, has operated the business for about eight years. She had an antique shop in Montclair, NJ before relocating to Milton.
Those who sprint along Rt 9 between Georgetown and Lewes might miss Cool Spring Village (CSV) on the north side of the road. Big mistake! CSV is more of a “campus” for three very different establishments – Beaman’s Old and Gnu Antiques, Coastal Crafts and Treasures and The Hen’s Den.
Beaman’s has been in business for 40 years and claims to be the highest payer in the area for gold, silver, platinum, jewelry and coins. The jam-packed antique showroom features shelves and curio cabinets chock full of collections such as old bottles, porcelain statues and pressed glass. A visit is a mega-size version of exploring your grandmother’s attic. Coastal Crafts and Treasures has a completely different vibe. It is generously stocked with handcrafted works from locals as well as antiques and collectables.
Peter Beaman says that he purchases the merchandise he and his wife Mary carry rather than display items on consignment or rent out space to venders. Beaman’s may be a great place to start if you are in the market to buy or looking to part with some family “treasures”.
The third business at Cool Spring Village is a departure from any other antique establishment in the area. Owners Wes and Cadie Fagg say they take an eclectic approach to their operation and are delighted to bargain on prices with buyers. What sets The Hen’s Den apart is the “animal zoo” behind the shop. Their collection of goats, pigs, miniature horses, roosters and ducks and a cow is available to the public and Cadie is what is called a farrier but that is a whole other story.
All three owners agree that there are not nearly as many antique shops now as in the past but those that have survived are seeing a resurgence of interest from both locals and tourists. Why not make a day of it, and check it our for yourself.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.