Trends are cyclical—what’s old will eventually always become new again, with a twist of what social movements, public figures and evolving technology informs. Visual representations of another time, antiques can be clothing, silverware, jewelry or furniture. They are typically collectible and desirable for a myriad of reasons, but especially for their age and rarity.
Antique shopping is a pastime for every type of person, whether you’re an old soul with a penchant for pieces with a story, a history buff looking for your next convo-starting item or just tired of dressing like everyone else.
Though often used synonymously with the word vintage, antique has a slightly different meaning. According to Maria Rivero, stylist and appraiser for Twice Vintage in South Miami, the definition has “gotten very loose in the last few years.” Carmen Franchi, the shop’s owner, said, “Vintage is anything over 30 years old, antiques are over 100 and anything over 500 years old is an antiquity.”
A Store Miami’s Never Seen
Franchi moved to Miami 40 years ago from New York City, where she said you couldn’t go a block without encountering a vintage or antique shop. At the time, though, second-hand shops in Miami were much more rare. When she got here, Franchi vowed to open one of her own, the kind of store “that Miami has never seen.” And she did: Twice Vintage. To her, the shop is “as if Disney World were to create a vintage store. Everything has a second, third, fourth, fifth life.”
The industry has changed quite a bit since its inception, with trends transitioning from pawnbroking to thrifting to vintage upcycling. One thing about these stores that remains a constant, though, is the diversity of their collections in age, function and place of origin.
“Before 1972, the American antique trade was a regional trade,” according to an article from Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, a website for antique dealers, collectors and enthusiasts. “A dealer in New York would throw away things popular in Maine. Likewise, items popular in Pennsylvania might sit forever unsold in an antique shop in Florida.”
Because of this, said the article, dealers willing to travel long distances could make a small fortune by buying antiques where they weren’t wanted and selling them in areas where they were. The incentivized shuffling of goods largely forged the nature of these shops, making it impossible to predict what you might find in one.
If you go antique shopping often and with intention, Franchi said, “the universe will conspire to make things happen for you.”
Golden Girls and Orphan Annie
Many antique connoisseurs share a sentiment that older pieces are superior in quality to what comes out of mass production today. If you’re looking to get in on high-quality finds, Turn Back the Clock Shop off of Bird Road is a unique option.
This Golden Girls-themed shop, owned and operated by 18-year-old Miami native Sebastian Rodriguez, is just six months old. Rodriguez said he sources from garage and estate sales on a weekly basis and hand-selects unique pieces. Some of his most “prized possessions” include an original custom-made Bob Mackey dress from the ‘80s, a “Little Orphan Annie” book from 1940, which includes a handwritten inscription from a dad to his daughter, and several colognes, including a scent from Giorgio Armani that Rodriguez said was “on every teenager’s dresser in the ‘80s.” To him, pieces like this not only tell captivating and personal stories, but also “bring memories of the people that used them.”
Set In Stone
For those wanting a truly thorough immersion into the world of antiquity, Stone Age Antiques is a must-see store. It was opened about 58 years ago by Milton Stone, and is the oldest of its kind in Miami, housing around 1 million items. Stone Age was a solely family-owned operation until three years ago, when Stone’s son asked Louis Hammond, a close friend who had been affiliated with the store for over 30 years, to take over the business.
“There’s nowhere like it,” Hammond said. “It’s a very unusual place, you’ll never know what you’re going to find.” For example, he said he recently sold a 10-foot long iron cannon dating back to 1790 that weighs 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.
One of the most unique pieces Hammond has in the store is a shallow water diving helmet which features technology developed by William Miller, a benefactor to the University of Miami. Miller, who donated land that became part of campus, created the helmet that became standard equipment for the U.S. Navy with an associate in 1915.
8888 SW 136th St. #525A Miami, FL 33176
(305) 665-7620 @shoptwicevintage
Turn Back the Clock Shop
6354 Bird Rd.
Miami, FL 33155
(305) 666-2064 @turnbacktheclockshop
Stone Age Antiques
3236 NW S River Dr. Miami, FL 33142
(305) 633-5114 @stoneageantiquesmiami
words_mikayla riselli. photo_ julia dimarco. design_isa marquez.
This article was published in Distraction’s winter 2021 print issue.