From cookie jars to vintage gas pumps, antiques enthusiasts need not travel far to find a bountiful selection to nourish their appetite for collectibles.
Novice and veteran collectors alike will delight in the nostalgic, historical – even whimsical – treasures that abound in Fulton and across the Mississippi in Clinton, Iowa.
Broken Spoke Antique Mall in Clinton, with its welcoming Italianate architecture, invites guests into two stories of antiques and collectibles displaying the wares of more than 45 independent dealers.
Owner Peg West, who has been in the business for more than a dozen years, moved to the historic 1866 brick home in 2011.
“We have the neatest house to explore; a special venue,” West said. “A lot of people come in just to see the house, and that is perfectly OK.”
Once inside, sightseers are hooked. Because it is a dealer mall, the store offers a diverse selection, including vintage clothes, vintage records, military memorabilia, furniture, glass, pottery, sports collectibles and toys.
“I love the people and the chase of finding something special or fun,” West said with a laugh. “My husband and I are auction junkies.”
Just up the street and around the corner is The Gazebo, which is owned by Bill and Becky Conley. They opened the store in 2007, when Bill retired after 38 years as a history teacher.
The Conleys travel to estate sales and auctions and personally select all the items in their store. They also explore the Internet for things of interest. The store is teeming with items certain to capture the attention of visitors, catering to all genera of antique devotees.
“When we go to auctions, she goes her way and I go mine," Bill said. "It’s always interesting to see what the other one ends up buying.”
Each has an area of expertise. Becky is especially knowledgeable about linens and cast iron, while Bill is schooled in the history of cookie jars and NASCAR.
“We complement each other’s knowledge,” Bill said. “That’s how we have been successful.”
Tom and Audrey’s Antique and Collectible Mall is another Clinton option. The mall fills almost an entire city block and boasts two floors with more than 75 dealers, packed with a vast assortment of all things collectible.
Audrey Hatheway began her business more than a dozen years ago with her husband, Tom. After he passed away in 2008, she kept the name.
“That’s what it was always called," Audrey said, "and it just seemed right.”
Hatheway has a free-spirited approach.
“I’m open to just about anything," she said. "No rules. No rhyme or reason. Just about anything goes."
And a quick glace around the store proves her right. She is pleased with her eclectic offerings.
“No two items are the same," she said. "We have a nice assortment of treasures.”
Every turn is an adventure. Shoppers will find exquisitely restored furniture, hand crafted metal yard art, primitives, records, lamps and dishes.
From Clinton, River Huis Traders Antiques is an easy drive across the Mississippi to Fulton.
Located in a charmingly restored 1910 building in downtown Fulton, River Huis is an enchanting and welcoming step back in time.
Owners Nancy and Bill Kolk began selling antiques in 1993 in Morrison.
“We were new to collecting and had wonderful people teaching us about glassware, pottery, furniture and ‘what was hot’,” Nancy recalled.
“In 1999, we purchased a vintage building on Main Street in Fulton, remodeled it, retired and began selling antiques.”
The store has the feel of a boutique, with tastefully displayed items that take visitors on a journey back to the days of their great-grandmother’s parlor filled with dollies, needlework and glassware.
They specialize in Dutch and windmill-themed items, art glass, pewter, fine pottery and linens. Ninety-five percent of all items in the store are hand selected by the Kolks at auctions.
Unexpected finds include European and Asian items, such as "Cloisonné" – small dishes, ornaments and curios inlaid with tiny, colorful enamel tiles popular in the Orient.
“We love learning, which comes with exploring the history of objects,” Nancy said.
“We like serving as ambassadors for Fulton to the hundreds of visitors who visit our tourist sites. Welcoming people to our town is important to us.”
A quick 5-mile trip north of Fulton on Waller Road (state Route 84) brings adventurous antiquers to Great River Road Antiques, which is owned by Kevan DeVault. The two-story, faux red barn building with a welcoming porch opened 15 years ago and is host to 70 dealers.
Just inside the front door, two perfectly restored gasoline gas pumps are proudly displayed. The Sinclair Dino Gasoline, complete with green dinosaur, and Texaco Sky Chief pumps belong to DeVault’s husband, Jim, and are certain to conjure memories of the days before self-service gas stations. While DeVault mentioned they are for sale “for the right price,” she jokingly admits she doubts her husband would seriously consider parting with them.
The mall is festooned with glass, pottery, signs and small furniture from past eras, all creating nostalgic memories.
“It’s how we judge our own age,” DeVault reflects. “You’ll look at something and remember it from years ago. That’s what keeps us going. All of us remember items from when we were kids.
“After this long in business, a lot of the things people are amazed by are the same old things around here. Clean and well kept and organized."
Beyond the store are 27 storage units brimming with just about everything imaginable for weekend flea markets held April through October.
Whether you are a beginner or veteran antiquer, Clinton and Fulton have a bounty of interesting and intriguing venues to explore, offering visitors a gateway to the past.
Antiques and more
Broken Spoke Antique Mall
2204 N. Second St., Clinton, Iowa
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
256 Main Ave., Clinton, Iowa
Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Great River Road Antiques
23080 Waller Road, Fulton
Hours: Store: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
Outdoor flea market: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April through October
River Huis Traders Antiques
1105 Fourth St., Fulton
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday
Tom & Audrey’s Antique and Collectible Mall
505 S. Second St., Clinton, Iowa
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily