Antiquarian’s Delight – sounds kinda mystical, right? Well that’s kinda how I felt approaching this converted synagogue-turned-vintage-haven located just off South Street at 615 S. 6th St).
Far from the musty, old antique shop that you donate to after cleaning out your grandfather’s attic, this place is the crème de la crème of antiquaries. And although it’s been around for quite some time now, because of the deceiving exterior, I suspect there’s still a lot of locals that don’t even know it exists. And quite frankly, it deserves all the publicity it can get.
Walking in, I was immediately drawn to the luxurious fur items to my right. The lush fox-fur coats, hats and shawls were just begging to be worn, and I came painfully close to dropping this week’s paycheck on maybe one or two (or seven).
Then I came across another vendor selling an eclectic mix of both vintage and contemporary clothing. I was especially attracted to two items in particular: a beautiful pair of patent leather pumps for only $20 and a pair of authentic 1940s suede heels for the low, low cost of $40. Seriously, you can’t a find a better deal on such stunning shoes.
Besides clothing, Antiquarian’s Delight is also full of one-of-a-kind furniture and housewares, from velvet sofas and leather chaises to mahogany china cabinets. One salesperson even had the largest collection of quaint salt-and-pepper shakers I’ve ever seen.
Overwhelmed by all the fantastic deals and treasures, I stopped to talk to Dale and Norma, two vendors long-time vendors there, to get a better feel for the place.
How did you get into the antique business?
Dale: “Well, I’m from the South and I originally started buying used stuff because I had no money. Eventually, I just started buying used items that wouldn’t lose any value. I do my shopping all over – people’s homes, flea markets – and I see if [the merchandise] are of value.”
Norma: “I’ve been here 15 years. My sister Bernadette is actually the one who worked in retail; I’m a retired nurse. After I retired, I started working here to help her out. We rotate shifts.”
How would you say business has been?
Norma: “It’s a different change of pace from nursing. People appreciate the clothes that we have and come here because we have exactly what they’re looking for. Young women especially love it, they love to dress up in 40s and 50s fashion. Not as many people come in as much nowadays though.”
Dale: “Business has been slow. The economy has caused a lot of vendors to leave, but I love what I do. Even if I don’t sell anything, I can just look at all the pretty items I’ve collected.”
What kind of items seem to be particularly in high demand here?
Norma: “You never know what’s going to sell until stuff starts going off the shelves, but we sell a lot of shoes, handbags, lingerie and gold and silver jewelry. A lot of college kids come in here looking for costumes for theme parties and Halloween.”
So anyway, if you’ve got a taste for some top-notch antiquities, you officially know where to go. Here’s just a few of the amazing items I uncovered inside the massive South Philly treasure chest…