Antique Shopping in Charlotte
Antiques are special in so many ways. The quirky collectibles, furniture and paintings you find at an antique store belonged to someone else not that long ago. Their former prized possessions can be yours for the right price, and the mystique of these items can add warmth and excitement to their new spaces.
by Charlie Leonard
The Greater Charlotte area has some unique antique shops for anyone hunting for vintage treasures. Here, you’ll discover sprawling warehouses, passionate shop owners and unique finds. From rare antiques to NASCAR racing collectibles, there’s something here for everyone. Even if you’re just browsing the aisles on a lazy weekend, you’re sure to find something incredible waiting for you on every shelf and behind every corner.
Since 1991, the motto “Meet Me in the Alley” has been a go-to motto for antique lovers in Matthews. The 5,000 square-foot antique space is the “oldest antique dealer mall in the Charlotte area,” and has been family-owned and operated for 30 years. Antique Alley has also had some very notable shoppers in their three decades of business. They have sold and supplied props to several television shows and movies, including Showtime’s “Homeland,” The Patriot starring Mel Gibson and celebrity-chef Paula Deen’s cooking shows. Some other interesting buyers include Charlotte’s Opera Carolina, the props departments at a few Ivy League schools and some major museums. Needless to say, there’s plenty to see when you browse Antique Alley- including a wall of pictures, dog mascots and the “Liars Bench,” where you can sit and enjoy some cookies and a cup of coffee
Right off I-85, in the small town of Belmont, is the sprawling Catawba River Antique Mall. Located in a former mill, this space is 67,000 square feet and houses 300 vendor booths divided along five aisles. It’s been voted “Best of Gaston County” for four years in a row, and it’s not hard to see why. Along the first aisles are rare books, knives and coins. Also towards the front are a wide selection of diecast cars and NASCAR memorabilia—co-owner Emory Vandiver’s father, Jim, was actually a NASCAR driver in the top division for 15 years. Towards the back of the mall is a collection of beer taps, signs, koozies and general accessories that’ll make any lover of brand decor happy. Outside is one of the most iconic pieces of Americana: a statue of “Big Boy” from the iconic Big Boy® Restaurants chain. There’s an entire day's worth of sights and spectacle to take in at this antique haven, and that’s exactly how it should be.
Another cool antique store that’s right off the highway is Christie’s on Main. Just a short drive off of I-485 in Pineville, Christie’s on Main has been a haven for antique furniture, linens and vintage jewelry. In fact, the store claims to have the largest selection of vintage jewelry in North and South Carolina. Some other notable finds include vinyl LPs, china and farmhouse decor.
If you love interior design, Circa Interiors and Antiques needs to be on your bucket list. Owner and designer Cindy Smith, with the help of her daughter Whitney and her daughter-in-law Heather, has curated her store to reflect a variety of styles and time periods. You’ll find 18th, 19th and 20th century English and Continental antiques inside, plus a variety of contemporary home furnishings. Every table, sofa and the accompanying accessories have been meticulously crafted to fit Smith’s vision of design as a platform to “uplift” and “inspire” home interiors. Browsing Circa is like visiting a beautiful gallery show; the difference is, you can take the gorgeous pieces home with you. Stop by the SouthPark store today to find your next great furniture piece.
If you thought that antique malls couldn’t get any bigger, think again. The Depot at Gibson Mill is one of the largest antique malls in the entire South! The 88,000 square foot building is home to 750 individual vendors. The former textile mill is so big that it also houses two breweries, a board game cafe, a classic car storefront and even a small diner. Multiple movies, including “The Hunger Games,” have used store items for movie props, which isn’t surprising considering how much there is to choose from. You’re certain to find a little bit of everything inside this Concord antiques classic.
Authentic turquoise jewelry is the biggest draw for Garrett’s Antiques and Indian Shop near Ballantyne. This unassuming log cabin on the side of the road has quite the selection of turquoise rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants, as well as plenty of high-end Native American items. You’ll find pottery and decorations from a selection of different tribes, including the Catawba tribe from Western North Carolina. If you’re in the market for a beautiful piece of jewelry or are looking for a unique gift, this is the place to find it.
Neighborhood: South End
For “one of a kind” and “rare treasures,” you can’t miss Ladonna Antiques and Interiors in South End. Owner Ladonna Harris has curated her shop to showcase many European styles and eras. You’ll find 18th, 19th and 20th-century pieces from Spain, France, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. Most of the collection consists of garden and architectural pieces that Harris has found in the countrysides of Europe, as well as markets and stores around the United States. You’ll also find landscape art and other assorted decorations to hang on the wall. Thanks to Harris’ efforts and design acumen, the store has received two “Best of the Best” awards from Charlotte Magazine.
Situated in an old textile mill on Mooresville’s Main Street is the Main Street Antiques and Design Gallery. The refurbished mill features the esteemed Aliño Pizzeria and the Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden, with the antique mall as the central feature. Inside are 475 vendor stalls full of unique antiques, vintage goods, art, hand-crafted items and other collectibles. Half the fun of visiting this antique shop is appreciating the rich brick walls and contrasting wooden ceilings up above while you browse the aisles. Plan your visit today and stay for the delicious food right next door.
Off I-77 in Cornelius is Oak Street Mill Antiques. It’s a 10,000 square foot antique mall with over 50 vendors inside. You’ll find a large stock of traditional cottage-style plates, assorted furniture and other decorative items. You’ll also notice some quirky finds, like a bust of a female made of seashells or a giant Elvis Presley print. Just as quirky is the store’s Facebook page, that pairs photos of the unique items with humorous captions that really highlight the unique vintage finds. This is an antique store where you truly never know what you’ll find inside.
Piccolo Antique Mall is right along the main strip of stores in downtown Belmont. The 22,000 square foot store has been a mainstay for many years in the small, but growing downtown area. There are over 70 vendors that are selling a plethora of unique antiques and fine consignments. Some highlights include a collection of Coca-Cola merchandise downstairs, religious items spread around the store and classic books with decorative jackets right up front in the first bookcase. Come during the holidays, and you’ll find a selection of Santa Claus-themed decorations that’ll turn any Scrooge into a believer.
Precious Restorations is an especially interesting antique shop because of how they revitalize, repair and restore old antiques. For 40 years, the Matthews store has taken top-quality pieces of art, paintings, pottery, sculptures and other forms of fine art and restored them to their former glory. That includes pieces from customers all along the East Coast. Precious Restorations also sells unique treasures too. You’ll be able to purchase old vinyl records and music memorabilia, G.I. Joe action figures, comic books, war relics, firearms and all sorts of unique finds.
Neighborhood: Lower South End
One of the most popular and revered of all the antique stores is Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Lower South End. Voted “Best Antiques in Charlotte” by Charlotte Magazine since 2011, this store is an essential visit for any type of shopper. Sleepy Poet is the epitome of their motto, “No Rhyme or Reason, Just Cool Stuff.” There are 60,000 square feet of antiques, vintage items and unique decor from a host of Charlotte-area vendors. That includes a massive collection of vinyl records from as far back as the early 1900s, vintage clothing and hats and eclectic home decor. The store is currently in the middle of a move to a new 48,000 square foot home on South Boulevard.
The White Owl Antique Mall is large, and that’s an understatement. It’s 100,000 square feet of antiques, collectibles, vintage items and advertising/signage. You’ll also find a big collection of beer taps and accessories, fine china and even gold. Just a short drive from downtown Concord, you’ll have plenty of items to choose from in one of the largest antique malls in the South. Make sure to clear your schedule, so you’ll have plenty of time to roam around in this antique paradise.