Palm Beach County is thick with thrift shops, some of which are pretty grungy and others that are as elegant as a high-end boutique. On a recent buying trip I visited many of them and found several worth repeat visits.
Goodwill has a lot of stores in Palm Beach County and there is a clear hierarchy among them. At the top of this hierarchy, and by far the most elegant thrift shop I’ve ever been to, is the Goodwill Embassy Boutique in Palm Beach. Located in the heart of a cluster of high-end consignment and vintage shops, and featuring beautiful built-in wood cabinets, if you didn’t know that this was Goodwill you wouldn’t know that it was Goodwill.
West Palm Beach’s “Antique Row” has dozens of vintage and antique shops, some high-end and others that are more modestly priced. The merchandise varies from vintage clothing and jewelry to furniture and decorative objets. Strengths include items from the mid-20th century including one of my favorites, lucite. On a recent trip I saw great lucite and chrome magazine racks and lamps at Cashmere Buffalo, although my focus was on jewelry.
One of the top vintage jewelry dealers in the country, D. Brett Benson, has a shop on antique row with an eye-popping selection of jewelry. When I first walked in I was wowed by his incredible selection of designer costume jewelry. But then I saw the jewelry in the showcases at the center of store filled with Mexican silver, modernist silver, Art Deco jewelry and some great Arts and Crafts pieces and was really impressed. There were exceptional pieces of silver jewelry by Spratling, Aguilar, Theodor Fahrner and many other great designers. This is a shop for serious collectors and fashionistas, so don’t expect bargains; it takes a lot of time and money for a dealer to amass a collection like this and even though the prices were high, they were fair considering their quality. Plus, the manager Kevin was delightful, and since it was “off season” and the store wasn’t busy, we had a lovely chat.
The town of Lake Worth, toward the southern end of Palm Beach County, has a concentration of Antique Malls and thrift shops that make it a worthwhile shopping destination. During a recent buying trip I scoped out the antique malls and found them full of interesting items. The three antique malls are located within a few blocks of each other along S. Dixie Highway (US 1) in, and adjacent to, the charming several block long LULA Arts District.
Coming from the south, the first place I stopped was BKG Antique Mall which has about 60 dealers.
The late Christie Romero was a renowned jewelry historian and author of Warman’s Jewelry, a guide to jewelry of the 18th through 20th centuries. If I had to choose one jewelry book to recommend to a novice, out of the dozens I own, it would be Warman’s Jewelry 3rd edition because it is highly informative, covers all eras and genres in surprising detail, and contains a realistic range of prices; it also contains Romero’s invaluable timeline of jewelry history alongside landmarks of world history and industrial history. This book is out of print but can be found on Amazon. Warman’s Jewelry 5th Edition is also excellent and more widely available.
A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Los Angeles on a buying trip. I timed my trip to coincide with the Vintage Fashion Expo which is held three times a year in Los Angeles and twice a year in San Francisco (where I am a seller). The weekend of the Vintage Expo coincided with the monthly Long Beach Antique Market so I spent Sunday shopping there.
Portabello Road is the most famous street in London for antiquing and it rightly deserves its reputation. When I started going on buying trips to London a few years ago I expected that, because of its fame, prices would be outrageous and geared to the tourist trade but I was wrong.