Discovering the Variety Mall

There seems to be a new trend in my neck of the woods, and I have to say that as a collector and dealer I particularly adore it. A couple of years ago a co-worker told me about a "thrift store" that I'd not heard about before. He called it a Variety Mall. "Variety Mall?" I asked, "Is that like an antique mall?"

He tried to explain it to me and a most hilarious conversation ensued as he kept referring to it as a thrift store but his description sounded much more like the Antique Malls I am used to shopping. Still, whatever it was it sounded exciting! "It's huge" he told me "easily twice the size of this restaurant!"

A few days later I found I was off work early enough to make the trip south to this mythical mall beast I'd heard of and an hour later I pulled up in front of it. I couldn't believe it, it really was huge, bigger than the Goodwill that was placed practically right next door (yes, a goodwill that I shopped on a regular basis and yet had never noticed this Variety mall!).

I pushed open the doors and wandered inside, eyes riveted on aisle after aisle of "new to you" household goods, clothes, jewelry and collectibles. I really had no idea what to expect but I knew in that instant that I was in love.

It took me four hours to shop the store that day, and I frequently still spend 4 hours at a time in it's aisles of ever changing inventory. That first day I found a beautiful Baccarat Cat figurine for a low low price that blew my little cotton socks off and I was hooked.

As I had never heard of a Variety Mall, I often wonder if it is a concept that has spread across the country or simply a local phenomena that has taken hold. Since then several other Variety malls have opened in the area, it seems to be trending towards the lower economy. A place where you can pick up gently used or second hand but never used household goods for a fraction of the big box store prices, a store in which you could do an entire seasons worth of Christmas shopping in one day, cover everyone on your list and yet still have change for a $100 bill, and of course a place where those of us with the collecting gene can ferret out the vintage and antique, the odd and the unique, the prized and the priceless goodies for our collections or our shelves.

Written by Helen Gilbert

Owner Catisfaction's Glass Gallery on Ruby Lane