When you have a two-and-half-year-old who touches everything she sees and a three-month-old who loves to cry when she’s asked to do something she doesn’t want to do, there’s really only one place to spend a peaceful hour: an antique shop where there are items lined up perfectly for a child to destroy them.
Clearly, that statement is a little crazy, but when you’re obsessed with all things antique and you have access to an antique shop in your small town village, the attraction is often too strong to resist.
So it has been for me and my family on a number of occasions with Aubrey’s Antiques, a not quite small but not quite big antique shop located just outside Ottawa in the lovely town of Greely.
If you’ve never been to an antique shop, or if you’ve been to a local flea market and have only seen a few old hockey sticks passing off as the antique section, prepare to be amazed at the sheer number of things that your grandparents cooked with, used to clean up, played with, stored stuff in, slept on or smoked from.
When you go in with a child, it doesn’t take them long to pick out the stuff they find the most interesting.
“Daddy, look, Mickey Mouse!” Leah yells, pointing to one of many old Mickey figurines, dolls and posters.
“Cool, we can’t touch them though.”
“Yes I can, he’s right there,” she says matter of factly, proving to me that you should never set a child up to prove they can do something you’ve said they can’t.
“I mean you shouldn’t touch it. If you don’t touch it, I’ll buy you ice cream.” I knew setting myself up so early in the visit might cost a pretty penny by the time things were all said and done, but I really wanted to be able to look around at all the old stuff and was willing to direct some funds to ice cream if it meant I got to find the right antique.
I have many preferences when it comes to looking through Aubrey’s. Library card catalogues, hickory shafted golf clubs, Coca Cola memorabilia, old ice skates, Christmas advertising, old cameras, railway station lamps, you name it, and this visit is no different. There’s no ‘best way’ to wind your way through Aubrey’s, you just need to do the classic ‘keep your head on a swivel’ because there are items everywhere – inside the furniture, under the furniture and hanging from the ceiling.
And when you get to the back of the building and think you’ve seen everything, you see a note on the back door informing you to check out their shed in the back for more items. Even on the way to the shed you can stop and admire numerous gasoline and oil signs and even a gas pump or two if you look closely enough.
The shed is even bigger than the first building and is filled with antique and reproduction furniture as well as old movie posters, croquet sets, typewriters (my personal passion) and much more.
This here, there and everywhere display makes visiting with a child all the more exciting, and three minutes in, I’m wishing I had taken my chances and let Leah play with the Mickey Mouse stuff, assuming at worst I’d be buying three of four items.
As it is, I’m trying to carry her through the furniture as I do my best not to miss anything. I take careful stock of the prices and try to calculate in my head what kind of packages I can put together in order to get a better price.
I consider throwing Leah over my shoulder to carry her, but that would leave me without one hand to turn things over. In a place like this, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s very important to turn things over.
This particular visit I spend a lot of time looking, as always, at the typewriters in the back building, some Coca Cola Christmas advertising featuring the big man himself, old honey tins, antique baking moulds, a Fitting Room sign, a pair of ice skates and some shipping crates out in front of the building.
Leah was particularly engrossed with the Santa memorabilia.
“I doubt it, this Santa is made of tin.”
“Santa is made of Christmas spirit, not tin daddy. Buy him so we can get presents every day.”
“I don’t have enough money to buy Santa and ice cream Leah so what’s it going to be?”
I hoped here that Leah either wouldn’t make the connection that if Santa did in fact bring gifts he’d be able to bring her ice cream or that she’d know she had to go to bed before Santa would bring the gift, delaying ice cream by a whole day.
“Oh, I want the ice cream.”
While my redirection managed to get me out of a purchase, there have been plenty of other occasions where my love of an item has overpowered my love of the dollars in my bank account. To date I’ve become the fourth or fifth parent to a number of items, including an Acme dress form, a 1960′s red Postbox from Montreal, a red sleigh, a few cameras and more than a few golf clubs.
This time, I’m focused on the Fitting Room sign which I’m sure, even if I can’t picture it in my head at the moment, will look good somewhere in my home. Even if that means I need to build a fitting room addition to accomodate it…
As usual, the owner, Ken Aubrey, is open for discussion on price, and once an acceptable number for the both of us comes up, I’ve got myself a new piece of decor.
What I love about this place is that every time I come in, I’m finding something new. One visit I’ll drool over an apothecary cabinet and the next the drool will be caused by a turn of the century (the 1900 one not the 2000 one) bicycle. The constant influx of new items is a direct result of Ken’s tireless (but what I assume to be exhilarating) scavenging throughout the year.
If you have any interest in adding a one (or at best two) of a kind piece to your home decor or you just want to drive out to Greely, then stop by Aubrey’s. And say hi to me, because odds are I’ll be there too.
You’re making us want to go antiquing, Mike! We love old-new stuff, too. Have any of you been to Aubrey’s Antiques? Tell us about your best find!