By Dana Sleger //
If you’re an antique lover, how sweet it is to live in South Mississippi! Treasures abound here, and the shopping consists of a rich collection of stores full of antique, vintage and collectible items. Confused about those terms? Don’t be!
As far as shops go in this area, the term “antique” is a label with multi-faceted meaning. When delving into this eclectic collection of shops, the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” could never ring more true.
Technically, antiques are defined as an item — work of art, furniture, decorative object — that is more than 100 years old, and we certainly have places with a focus on just that. However, a vintage item that’s 50 years old or a collectible item from the 80s could be just as precious to someone because it evokes special memories of times past.
If looking for a piece from a specific time period, do your research and ask lots of questions. Shop owners know their stuff and are more than willing to help or refer you to another place down the road that may have what you’re looking for.
The important thing to remember is whether one is searching for an old Victorian-style desk or a rare Wonder Woman comic book, it can be found in South Mississippi. Let’s take a trip, starting on the west side.
On the far end of the Gulf Coast, Waveland boasts one the most upscale antique shops in the region. Countryside Antiques is frequented by out-of-state visitors because of the one-of-a-kind 18th and 19th century French and English pieces. Customers will find furniture, silver, oil paintings, art glass, majolica, Staffordshire, cut glass, Persian carpets, religious artifacts, jewelry and miscellaneous decorative accessories.
Owners Mike Mayo and Tom Cottom travel to Europe twice a year during January and August to search for prized items such as a cherry wood farmhouse table from 1850 they found in northern France.
Mayo says the ever-changing inventory of antiques sets a precedent that if a customer has a connection with a particular item, it’s best to act because it could be gone tomorrow.
“Buy what you like; buy what speaks to you,” Mayo says. “If you pass it this time and it speaks to you, it may never come back again.”
Opened since 1978, Countryside Antiques is now on third and fourth generation customers who continue to rely on the elegant quality of timeless pieces.
Also in Waveland is Treasures of the Bay, a gift shop with coastal home décor. About 20 percent of items in the store are various types of antiques like furniture, clocks, and accessories.
Take a drive into the neighboring city of Bay St. Louis and prepare to spend the day browsing the downtown area. Within a one-block radius, there are five antique stores on the corner of Second and Main streets: Antique Maison, Bay Emporium, Something Special, The French Potager and Magnolia Antiques, which is home to a “doll hospital” that specializes in doll repair from various time periods.
Don’t forget to take a break from shopping and step into one of the surrounding cafés for a bite to eat. The Buttercup, Cypress Café, Mockingbird Café and the Starfish Café are all within walking distance. On Ulman Avenue, Antique Maison has a second store that features a lovely tearoom.
Drive a short ways up Main Street to visit Blue Rose Estate Sales, where you will find a large room full of exquisite items — even some from the 1700s — that were purchased from high-end estates found in South Florida.
Also, Upscale Resale Estate Sales, a premier estate sale and liquidation company, conducts sales on location at houses and businesses along the Coast.
Pearl River County
While you’re on the west side of the Coast, drive over to Picayune, another city that is a fantastic hub for antiques and collectibles. Just park your car downtown and enjoy a day of walking shop to shop to find those rare items that would be perfect additions to the homestead. Make sure to also visit stores in the surrounding area. It’s worth the drive!
Gibson House Antiques, Treasures & More, Now & Then and Nostalgia are just a handful of places to check out in Picayune. One of the most interesting venues of shopping activity is Barzé Place Antiques & Collectibles Mall.
Owner Lynne Barzé was raised with family heirlooms and her appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry from the past inspired a business dedicated to “preserving yesterday’s memories.”
More than 70 vendors and consigners are located in the mall and all specialize in selling different items such as a sewing machine from 1915, a record player from 1913, vintage costume jewelry — collectibles that can’t be found in retail stores. One of Barzé’s most diverse vendors is an international flight attendant for Delta airlines.
“She has everything: masks from Africa, nesting dolls from Russia, jewelry from Turkey, rosaries from Rome, clothes from India, natural glass from Egypt that goes back to the days of Pompeii, hand-carved birds that sit on natural rock from Peru,” Barzé says. “These are authentic items from around the world. When she has layovers, she shops and brings it home.”
After perusing all the fabulous booths, stop in at one of Picayune’s delicious places to eat. Maybe try a delectable filet mignon at Southern Char Steakhouse, a bowl of red beans and rice with fried catfish at Two Sisters Creole Kitchen, or a chili cheese hot dog with deep fried Oreos on the side at Dog-N-Burger.
Just like antique, vintage and collectible items, it’s all a matter of personal taste.
Now let’s head east.
There are some key places for shopping in Harrison County. Iron Magnolia Antiques & Collectibles is a gem of a place in Pass Christian that is chock-full of items that tell a story. Make sure to take a walk through the eclectic collectible-laced garden that owner Linda Ladnier built in honor of her mother, Mary Belle, who was a farmer and raised seven children.
In Ladnier’s shop, you will find items from the most interesting places — an old ship, Oak Crest Mansion, a church in New Orleans, and many more.
“If I like something, I figure someone else will like it, too,” Ladnier says about her collection. “I specialize in vintage iron like beautiful old gates, tables and chairs. You will find a treasure-trove of antiques at our shop with selections to fit every budget.”
Along Pass Road in Gulfport, there are three shops: Right Stuff Antiques, The Vintage Store and Circa 1909. Dianna Kopszywa, owner of Circa 1909, carries French, English and American furniture from the 1850s to 1940s, along with vintage china and linens, jewelry, glassware, silver, and a wide range of collectibles.
Kopszywa says antiques are a worthy investment for the home: “If you buy an antique desk today, when you go to sell it later on, it will hold its value and appreciate,” she says. “New things depreciate, but old things appreciate or hold up. They are unique pieces with lasting quality.”
Antique Hall and More on Popps Ferry Road in Biloxi has a nice collection of antique guns, old coins, Depression-era glass, watches and jewelry, as a well as furniture. Owner Pam Hall lost all her grandmother’s antiques in Katrina, so after attending auctions to replace those items, she decided to open her own shop that has a “certain style and flair.”
“I love antiques and I love the people I meet,” Hall says. “Everyone has a story and when they see pieces in my shop, they walk back in history and say, ‘I remember my grandmother had one of those,’ or ‘I had that same vanity growing up.’ It takes you down memory lane.”
On Suzanne Drive in D’Iberville, visit Centuries, dubbed as the largest indoor antique mall on the Gulf Coast. Sixty dealers share 15,000-square-feet of space that feature a huge selection of items such as chandeliers, artwork, retro and mid-century furniture, pottery, silver, jewelry, and much more.
Right across the street from Centuries is Southern Vintage Antiques. Aside from a delightful collection of items, owner Pam Swisher teaches chalk paint classes, which is a method of painting furniture to get that distressed, shabby chic look. She also does custom painting for clients.
Before continuing eastward, swing northward for 30 or so minutes to Wiggins.
Kloze Klozet on Magnolia Drive in Wiggins is a spectacular consignment shop with a 22,000-square-foot showroom full of items sure to please a collector’s heart. In addition to plenty of clothing for all ages and styles, there’s even a “man cave” with some neat things.
Rita Cooley opened the store 20 years ago and now has a second location in Poplarville. Both places have a number of antiques like end tables and sofas, but customers need to be quick on their feet.
“We get quite a bit of antiques, but you have to catch it as they come in,” Cooley says. “We have lots of collectibles and put out new items everyday, all day long. It’s a shopper’s paradise and we literally have customers that come in everyday to see what’s new.”
Right next door is The Yellow Gift Shop and they carry some antiques, as well as jewelry, candles and purses. These two neighboring stores are sandwiched in between exceptional eateries well known in Wiggins. A block away on one end is the Frosty Mug (established in 1960) and a block away on the other end is The Whistle Stop Café where fried green tomatoes are a menu favorite.
The most recent antique shop to set up in the area is Lisa’s Art, Antiques and Collectibles on Frontage Road in Wiggins. Old china cabinets, clocks, cradles, baby beds and dressers are some of the items you will find, as well as vintage jewelry, glassware, and more.
This locale also features Joyful Java Deli and Desserts right in the shop and it’s open for lunch Monday through Saturday. At this unique
place, daily lunch and antique specials go hand in hand: a barbecue sandwich and a corner curio, soup and a cedar trunk, a chef salad and a buffet.
Next up is the eastern end of the Coast.
Jackson County is home to the oldest and newest antique stores on the Coast. Bernard Clark Antiques on Washington Avenue has been open for 50 years and is a must visit for any antique hunter. The new kid on the Government Street block is Seagos Antiques.
Owner Stafond Seago opened the store in March and he has items from the turn of the century to mid-century. “We have a lot of stuff that you’re not going to be able to find elsewhere,” he says. “Antique tools and saws, fishing lures, reels, knives, old porcelain signs like the Coca-Cola signs from the general store and gas and oil memorabilia, musical instruments, glassware and bottles, cast iron skillets — we have a good variety of everything.”
Vieux Marche Antiques on Bienville Boulevard also is located in Ocean Springs and it features a nice selection of German, English and American clocks. A little further east in Pascagoula is Antiques, Treasures and Treats on Krebs Avenue. It has been in business for 20 years and carry a wide range of items that include Empire and Eastlake furniture, vintage lighting, and also offer a silver repair and restoration service.
Right outside the door are super restaurants, so if you’re hungry, visit Off the Hook, Scranton’s or Jack’s By the Tracks — “a Southern- sushi-juke-joint-fish-taqueria-neighborhood-pub-deli.”
As you can see, there are plenty of interesting places to explore. Take your time, enjoy the weather and great food, and make your shopping experience grand!