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If you love a good antique shop and you have younger kids, there is a good chance you passed up a visit to your favorite vintage spot because you weren't sure if you should bring your kids. Like most parents, you have days when your children are perfect angels and other days when they are completely wild. As you wonder which one will show up, you suddenly remember that small dusty antique shop with the old shopkeeper that looked at you like you were some young hooligan kid up to no good (even though you were fully grown with kids of your own). You begin to second guess and wonder if you should bring your kids at all.
Don't let that deter you! Antiquing is a great experience for children of all ages. Whether you have grabby toddlers, touchy tweens or moody teens, antique malls and stores can make for a great family outing and a wonderful way to introduce your kids to new experiences.
So here are 6 reasons why you should go antiquing with your kids.
When you are antiquing, there may be those specific pieces that you are looking for. Whether you are adding to your collection, or looking for something that catches your eye, we all have those pieces we love to find when we are antiquing. With such a wide range of items, there are likely plenty of pieces kids will enjoy too. We have seen kids get excited about everything from vintage Barbies or action figures, to Matchbox cars, Pez and vintage costume jewelry. Kids can find comics, sports cards, model trains, and even some vintage clothes speak to a teen's fashion. Just because you find these in an antique shop doesn't mean they will break the bank. Unless an item is particularly rare or unique, many items that your kids may find can be affordable, allowing them to have a memory to bring home as well.
One thing about antiquing is that there is usually a lot of nostalgia for sale. As you walk around, you will likely see many things that you haven't used or seen for many years. While it might trigger a memory for you, it may be completely foreign for your kids. In an era where the smart phone has been around for nearly two decades, most kids don't remember using a landline. (Particularly one that is corded to the wall and has a rotary rather than push buttons!) Antique shops are great places to introduce kids to things you may have otherwise forgotten. Unlike a museum, you can carefully touch and handle the pieces, and even buy it and take it home if you choose. That sort of hands on experience makes it more relatable and a good way to engage with your kids.
While it isn't universal, many antique shops will allow some level of negotiating when it comes to the price of items. Since they don't maintain an inventory of identical items, antique dealers will often adjust their price to make a sale if they can still make a small profit. In a world where the concept of bartering is almost extinct, your kids can learn from you as you make your purchase. Include your kids in your thought process as you evaluate each piece individually to determine its value to you. You can look at condition, maker, rarity, uniqueness, age, and other factors before you buy, so you know you are getting a piece you are happy with. Not only will your kids become more critical of what they spend money on, but before you know it, your kids will be pointing out pieces that you miss!
One thing people tend to enjoy most about antiquing is the hunt. It is hard to beat the thrill of finding that missing piece of your collection after searching miles of aisles in antique malls. If your kids already collect something like comics or sports cards, they may already know the feeling. If not, turning the visit into a scavenger hunt gets them off of their electronic devices and gives them something to do. Give them a list of things they may not recognize at first so they can learn about it and track down for a small win. At our antique mall, we offer kids and adults a small scavenger hunt postcard, listing several items they are likely to find around the mall. Not only does it keep them occupied during the visit, but also gets them looking at things in the store differently and finding joy in the hunt for antiques. It will throw you for a loop when an 8 year old ask where they might find art deco furniture, and there is nothing more heart-warming than having a child complete one of our scavenger hunt cards and bring it to the front, proud of their accomplishment!
Despite the old stereotypes of antique shops as stuffy and uppity places that look down on anyone who isn't old enough to appreciate antiques, most modern antique shops are incredibly family friendly. Antique dealers as a whole tend to be happy to see "the next generation" getting involved in antiquing. Many offer some form of complementary candy or small toys for children and some even offer strollers or kid friendly shopping carts for their patrons. That said, it never hurts to bring your own stroller if you have a young child, so make sure you are prepared for either situation.
A decade or two from now, you may hear "my parents used to drag us around to every antique shop they could find", but with the eye rolling and smile, you will likely see someone a greater appreciation of antiques and the things around them. Whether it evolves into their own collections, or even the joy of finding a good deal, kids who are exposed to antiquing gain a better appreciation of their experiences. It may sound a bit grand for a shopping trip, but antiquing can be a great environment to engage with your kids. So the next time you are wondering if you should take the kids with you when you go antiquing, don't hesitate, hit the road and see what great vintage treasures await you and your kids!
At the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion, we love hearing about our customers antiquing adventures and favorite vintage collectibles. Do you have an antiquing story to share? Please let us know!
Stay up to date on all the latest tips and tricks about antiquing and what the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion has to offer. Saugatuck Antique Pavilion is open daily all year round from 10am-6pm and offers over 24,000 square feet of quality antiques and vintage collectibles. Stop by to see what treasures you can find.