One of the notable shopping trends during the pandemic has been the popularity of items related to gardening, kitchen and home decorating projects.
Owners of Ramona’s antique stores are seeing the same trend with people who are staying home more and wanting to improve their homes.
Bob and Laura Lyman, the husband-and-wife owners of Ramona Antique Fair, closed their Main Street shop for three months during the shutdown. Since re-opening in June 2020, things have been slowly picking up, said Laura Lyman.
When browsers do buy, it’s nearly always something for their home.
“People nowadays want not just something that looks pretty, but something they can actually use, at a good price,” Lyman said.
At the top of the list are garden items.
“Anything from bird houses and bird baths to yard tools to anything to do with outdoor decorations — if it has to do with the yard, folks are buying it,” she said.
Home items are also popular. In the beginning of the pandemic when schools were closed, many buyers were looking for small desks, Lyman said. Now, other small items are selling.
“We sell a lot of kitchen ware, such as utensils, pots and pans, mugs, cheese graters, antique storage — basically any kitchen item that can still be used,” she said.
Another popular item has been vintage books for readers of all ages.
Next door to Ramona Antique Fair is Pete Nilsson’s shop with the quirky name of Junk and Disorderly. His antique store specializes in “mantiques,” or antiques for the male collector.
Nilsson’s experience has been similar to the Lymans’ in some areas.
“People have to live, and there is a lot of pent-up demand,” he said. “We have a lot of ‘feel good’ items and people do like to shop for things that make them feel good.”
Like the Lymans, Nilsson said he has sold a lot of garden items, everything from tools to vases and yard art.
The store also features several displays of new and reproduction metal signs, many featuring beer and liquor products, that cater to shoppers looking to add to their collections, he said.
“We can’t keep Harley Davidson stuff in the store,” he said. “Whether it’s books, jackets, helmets, signs — even motorcycle parts sell very quickly.”
It’s not really a surprise that Nilsson sells a lot of music memorabilia, including records, books and signs.
“I sell a lot of vinyl records,” he said, “in everything from classic rock, which is really popular, to heavy metal, blues, jazz and country.”
Nilsson believes that good things are ahead for the antiques business. After initially renting a booth in Ramona Antique Fair, he opened Junk and Disorderly in July 2021 to have more space.
“I think vintage as a whole is getting more and more popular,” he said. “The old stuff, especially anything with the 60s and 70s vibe, has come full circle and is gaining momentum.”
Perry Depalmer and his daughter, Louise, opened their antique store, Grandma’s House, in October 2020, also on Main Street. Like Nilsson, Perry Depalmer started with a single booth in Ramona Antique Fair. When he wanted more room, he opened his own shop.
Their most popular item by far is colored glass, said Louise Depalmer, pointing to a large display of dishes and vases.
“Anything with bright colors sells,” she said. “And anything to do with gardening and the outdoors in general, such as the shop’s selection of fishing items, sells well.”
Similar to the other shops, kitchen items are also in demand at Grandma’s House.
“People come in and ask for Pyrex and Corning Ware,” she said. “Our customers actually use it. They want it because it lasts longer, it’s durable and sustainable.”
The shop’s selection of movies and DVDs routinely changes as items are bought and sold.
“People are spending more time at home and looking for cheap entertainment,” Perry Depalmer said. “We sell the DVDs cheap, because we buy them in bulk and take donations.”
Louise Depalmer is surprised at the popularity of one particular item.
“Teenagers and young adults from 16 to 25 years old ask us for antique film cameras,” she said. “They also are into old turntables and records.”
Shoppers are looking for small, fun things, she said, so antique toys and knickknacks, such as Hot Wheels, Disney collectibles and Beanie Babies, are all popular.
While all these shop owners have different specialties, they agree there is one furniture item that nearly everyone is looking for.
“Little display tables,” Nilsson said. “Doesn’t matter what they’re made out of, they sell.”
Ramona Antique Fair is at 734 Main St. 760-789-0574. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Junk and Disorderly is at 738 Main Str. 858-880-5466. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grandma’s House is at 746 Main St. 760-484-1915. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.