Liz’s Birthday Roadtrip to Michigan – Day 2: Great Lakes Antiques Mall, Sweet Pickins, Sunset Junque, and Blue Star Antique Pavillion
While showing us our room at Rabbit Run Inn, Rodney told us that he hand-delivers breakfast to each room in the mornings. They don’t knock at all, but instead leave a basket of pastries outside each door.
At 8:30 on the dot, I opened the door to find a small basket filled with two croissants, two bananas, and a nice note from Rodney and Linda Jo. And to top it off, the croissants were warm!
Liz and I enjoyed our breakfast with some cups of coffee, and slowly packed up while watching When Harry Met Sally on TV. A lazy, relaxed way to start off the day.
Today, we were planning on travelling up north. We had a few spots that were an hour plus away from where we were staying, so we decided to slowly work our way up. First stop: Great Lakes Antique Mall.
On walking on, you were greeted with the small of fresh popcorn from a nearby machine… and just rows and rows of vendor booths. The place was really massive.
A small Jack in the Box. I was very gentle with the latch, and wondered what would actually pop out.
Aaaand it’s a creepy looking doll. It didn’t spring up with a lot of force, but it did still pop up (despite how old it is).
The most disturbing part of the process was me stuffing this thing back into the box. It just felt icky and wrong.
An interesting item in a case: the medical bag belonging to Dr. C.B. Fulkerson MD (circa 1910).
Apparently, the bag also comes with some tools. Anyone know what a rare tonsil guillotine looks like? I usually do google searches for things like this, but… I’m hesitant in this case.
An early optical test kit. Or, conversely, a DIY monocle fabrication kit.
A very disturbing looking collection of Doll Reader. Ever since I first saw Talking Tina, I’m just super sketchy when it comes to dolls.
Spots like this on a bookshelf are what excite me. Usually, something like this suggests photo albums. If I get lucky, I encounter a photo album with the images inside (although this is a rare thing, as most vendors will sell the album on its own, and sell individual photos for $1 a pop).
In some instances, I’ll happen across an autograph book. But so far, in all my searching – I’ve only ever encountered two of them.
This pile contained a few blank photo albums, and some old yearbooks.
This large, framed collection of old photographs caught my eye. The look of each image implied it was really old, but then I noticed the hair – every guy seemed to have really long, flowing hair! For a brief moment, I imagined their faces on an album cover, with each of them holding guitars instead of baseball bats.
It was an odd juxtaposition: to see these old baseball outfits, paired with men wearing their hair really long.
Just did a search for House of David and came up with this fascinating Wikipedia article. Craziness!
A booth with lots of pop culture memorabilia.
Another booth with lots of signage and machines. And you can’t get any more pop culture than Jake Blues.
A cool looking Jolly Joker machine.
My guess is that the game uses a series of metal balls that fall down into these holes. It wasn’t clear to me how you get the balls onto the playing area in the first place, as I didn’t see any kind of pinball plunger.
The game looked pretty awesome. Wish it was working so I could give it a whirl (something I’d think to myself often, when looking around all weekend).
Another interesting looking game/slot machine, nearby.
Chief Console. Can’t believe these things used to run on pennies and nickels.
A great, vintage Coca-Cola bottle dispenser. I would love to have one of these guys.
An older dispenser, presumably from a bowling alley. Not sure why I think that, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
I vaguely remember Tab as a kid, but never drank the stuff. Amazing to me that it’s still around.
One of my favorite booths here: Radios & Relics. Lots of restored antique radios, and the whole booth made me want to have one of these vintage devices in my house.
A fantastic touch was that one of the radios was playing an old episode of Flash Gordon. I’m guessing it was actually a recording, but the effect was great – the show coming through one of the older machines, along with all the old time advertisements (the one I heard was for children’s nose drops).
Behind one of the radios. Very cool stuff.
If you’re interested in finding out more, or have an interest in getting a vintage (30’s – 50’s) radio or vacuum tube audio device restored… contact Paul and Rhonda Richards. Their booth is “Radios and Relics,” booth #21 at the Great Lakes Antique Mall. Phone is: 269.468.7843.
I found this fantastic certificate tucked between a bunch of prints. The text of it reads:
This is to certify that Frank Weiss has been employed by this Company or its allied Lines from August 27, 1919 to June 30, 1953 and having faithfully performed the duties of said employment for a period of 33 years and 10 months, is hereby honorably relieved from active duty as Boilermaker and his name placed on the Honor Roll of this Company.
The New York Central Railroad Company
Reading it took my breath away, as I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Frank Weiss to receive this thing. What I love about items like this is the brief glimpse it gives you, into someone else’s life. It’s hard to imagine working in the same place for near 34 years. I’ve worked for ten years at the same place, and when that ended… it was a really rough thing to have happen.
I guess I’ll never know whether Frank’s departure was a retirement, or was part of him being let go, or if it was just his decision to leave. But I do know that it can’t have been an easy moment, leaving something you’ve done faithfully for so many years.
Glad I came across this and was able to document it. I hope that whatever Frank chose to do with his time after the New York Central Railroad Company, he enjoyed himself. That’s a lot of years to put into a place, Frank. I hope you got a watch.
A bucket of 45 records for $25. Worth the gamble?
One of the cooler vintage toys I came across: the King Pin Bowling Alley. I didn’t get to try out the guy to see if he worked or not, but this piece was fantastic. The price was something like $125, which was more than I could afford… but man, did it look sweet.
Another one of those moments where I spot something I grew up with, for sale at an antique store. We had (and still have) a few plates like this at my house in Indianapolis, purchased back when McDonald’s used to sell or include plateware with their happy meals.
It made me feel a little old, seeing this. But then I noticed the price tag: 50 cents. So maybe it’s not all that rare, to begin with.
An odd item that Liz spotted: a framed collection of insect wings. Not sure if these came from dragonflies or what, but they gave off a rather beautiful (albeit eerie) sheen. At first glance, it’s quite beautiful to see… but then when you realize what it’s made of, and what may have happened in order for this to be created… there’s a strange attraction/repulsion effect that kicks in.
A view down one of the many corridors.
Our next stop was Sweet Pickins, a very nice and large shop a bit off the regular path (most of the shops we hit were along Red Arrow Highway and Blue Star Highway).
At the door, we were greeted with free popcorn.
The place was very nice, and quite upscale. The prices weren’t super high, but the majority of the stuff here seemed a bit more polished and refined, versus other places we’d seen. In other malls, things felt like they had been around a while. But here, it felt fairly new. Though there were a lot of vintage items, they felt more cleaned up – if that makes any sense.
An old PBR promotional piece.
The terribleness of this thing, and Bert’s face in particular, made me crack up.
An old record player, complete with wind-up crank.
This book’s strange title, “Prophecies of Melchi-Zedek in The Great Pyramid and The Seven Temples,” is what caught my eye. I was tempted to buy it for $3, but ultimately decided against it. I later did a search and found it selling on Amazon for about $15.
Our next stop was farther north, at a place called Sunset Junque. I had called the place a few times, prior to our trip, trying to find out when they’d be open. I learned that Saturday would be the better bet, unless the weather turned bad. I didn’t realize how much of a factor the weather might be, until we pulled up to the place.
A brief peek inside the main building. There wasn’t a lot of room in here, and many other folks were shopping around… so I just grabbed a quick pick from the entryway, looking in.
A whole tray full of type!
While there were a few buildings on the premises, the majority of the shop’s wares are on display out in the yard. Overlooking everything is this gigantic, and beautifully enormous tree that’s in the center of the yard. Reminded me of another great tree that I saw, a few years ago, at Heinz Orchard.
The owner had pulled up a truck earlier, and was unloading a ton of things when we arrived.
In one of the back buildings, Liz spotted this chair. I didn’t see it at first, but it had a bunch of wires and seemed to be some kind of mechanical chair.
Guessing the Gyro-Lator massaged your feet and back at the same time.
More items outside.
Though it’s clearly an Egyptian casket, my first thought was to think of the Aztec Tomb, from Arrested Development.
More items out back. A majority of the pieces on display were for outdoor use, and I think Julie would have really loved a lot of the stuff here.
The back of a storage shed. I actually liked the display of the various objects, and tried to make up a story in my head… as though this were some kind of mural depicting a famous scene from history.
A vintage exercise bike.
One of many cottages, with the name “Bunny Village” over the doorway.
I’m guessing these were used for someone that owned a lot of bunnies, and let them roam around in the yard. Not sure if Northern Michigan is the best place for rabbits, as we saw some really huge eagles circling around and swooping down for prey.
A small building in the middle of the yard.
One thing that Liz remarked was how well structured this place was. All the prices were pretty spot-on, and not terribly cheap. But the layout and setup of the entire yard made it feel like you were always on the verge of discovering something – always about to find something for the first time.
Instead of being cramped inside a building, this was a nice change of pace – to be outside, digging for things under the sun.
Our last stop was the Blue Star Antique Pavillion. Perhaps it was the fact that it was our fourth stop of the day, but this place was pretty enormous. By the time we arrived, I was pretty tapped out… and I just kind of wandered around aimlessly, and barely took out my camera.
There was a lot of stuff to see here, and it’s unfortunate that my energy levels were so low. There was a huge corridor with tons of vinyl that would have kept crate diggers busy for an hour plus, easy.
Circling around the entire premises were 3-4 employees that had this large hoop of keys. If you wanted to see something that was locked in a case, you’d flag somebody down and they’d open it up for you. Additionally, if you had a lot of items you wanted them to keep up front, they’d give you a clothing pin with a number on it… and take your stuff up for safe keeping. Yes, the place was that big.
Though I’d seen a lot of old typewriters, this one stood out. A funky looking old Hammond Multiplex.
And this was a super strange piece. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was (I thought it was a coat hanger of some kind). It wasn’t until I started at it for a while that I noticed the pipe, wedged between two of the heads. Apparently, this was a pipe holder. Who knew stuff like this existed?
Full, full day of shopping. After this, we headed up a bit north to hit up a fabric store in Holland. And then made a long 2.5 hour drive home to Chicago.
For as close as everything was, popping over to Michigan was remarkably easy to do. And though we had two full days, we were able to go to less stores than I imagined. Most places open at 9 and close by 5… and if you’re spending 1.5 hours at each place, there’s not a lot you can fit in, in one day.
There were so many stores in Michigan, all along Red Arrow and Blue Star Highway. I don’t even think we dented the list (and there were several we found that were closed, and not yet open for the season). I’m guessing we’ll be back again soon, given how close it is.