Tattered elegance

Are you lucky enough to have a few finsters to spare, to blow on inexpensive "luxury" items for your place that'll actually help get your soul singin'? You know, like, something beautiful? Well, here's a day's worth of ace vintage shopping in the best stores that mostly stock objects from some local home, hotel or estate, no doubt things that years ago helped someone else's soul to sing. 

OK, start in Detroit's historic Eastern Market District, and score great deals on lovely old stuff that's Detroit-cheap, not Melrose-costly. Eastern Market Antiques is two stories of eclectic antique and vintage browsing in a single location. Shop for your fresh produce and antiques all in one area. On the main floor near the entrance, customers find a heart-pumping array of hanging art nouveau to mid-century light fixtures, along with furniture, decor, clothes and jewelry from days of yore. You'll dig wandering vendor booths in the heart of the shop and the upper level, where you never know what you'll find — could be some Norma Desmond-ish silver cigarette holder, an antiquated Stroh's Beer sign or an art deco bedroom set. Open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sunday and Monday; 2530 Market St., Detroit; 313-259-0600; easternmarketantiques.com.

After that, head west to Livonia where you'll find two of Michigan's hottest antique malls, right on Plymouth Road. The Town Peddler Craft & Antique Mall is one of the biggest and most affordable shopping venues of its kind in the state. Imagine 24,000 square feet of retail space filled with more than 400 specialty shops offering everything from antiques to hand-poured candles, textiles, Asian rugs, stained glass, art and crafts. Yes, it's big, almost too much to explore in a day. But the diehard craft and antique enthusiast will have hell of a lot of fun trying. Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m., except Sundays (11 a.m.-6 p.m.); 35323 Plymouth Rd. Livonia; 734-513-2577; townpeddler.com

Not far from the Town Peddler, down Plymouth Road, you'll find another multi-vendor mall tucked behind the east side's Mario's Restaurant. The Town & Country Antiques Mall sports its own personality and flair, with fetching choices of antique furniture, jewelry, home decor, collectibles and rugs. What's more, now's a sweet time to snag good deals, because they're celebrating their 18th year with a month-long sale. Town & Country is also a proud, eco-conscious member of Antiques Are Green (antiquesaregreen.org), an organization that raises awareness about reusing and recycling. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, except Fridays (11 a.m.-8 p.m.); 31630 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 734-425-4344; townandcountryantiques.net.

Wrap up your quest for cool vintage by heading a little farther west into the quiet elegance of Northville Township, home of the Knightsbridge Antique Mall. They've got something for every budget, from a collectible comic book for 50 cents to a $20,000 sculpture. You'll discover first-edition books, jewelry, china, glassware, furniture, art and tons more. Sign up for their newsletter and get a heads-up on storewide sales and customer appreciate events. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 42305 W. Seven Mile Rd., Northville Twp.; 248-344-7200. 

And if you've not found that perfect treasure, tuck a bit of dough away for the Royal Oak Flea Market on Sunday mornings. It might be truth, or it might be legend, but the story goes that a savvy shopper once picked up a small Manet painting at this flea market for a few bucks. It later sold at auction for about $3 million. Such stories give the Royal Oak flea market added allure. Grab a cup of gourmet coffee and stroll aisles of highly affordable old records, books, magazines, trinkets and treasures. Open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays; 316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248-246-3276.

Norene Smith writes about lit and poetry for Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected]
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