Susie Foster and her best friend, Anna, had no intention of revitalizing the antiquing industry in the Triangle when they marched into a lawn mower repair shop 12 years ago to inquire about the “for sale” sign on the road. Tired of renting booths and tables in other locations in the area, the women simply wanted to expand and open their own brick-and-mortar store. Though they were initially met with skepticism, they convinced the owner to rent the single building on the property to them, and Suzanna’s Antiques was born. Little did they know then how the business would grow.
“It was not with the intent of ever being this,” says Jenny Sellars, Foster’s daughter and co-owner of Suzanna’s Antiques.
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Now, 12 years later, Susie and Anna’s shared vision for an antiques store has blossomed into this: a group of seven antiques shops located off of Capital Boulevard and collectively referred to as Vintage Village, a place where Raleigh residents can find quirky wares full of personality. No item is too large, too small, too weird, or too ordinary to be found here. China plates, chicken coops, full-size furniture, jewelry, and more fill the shelves of Vintage Village.
Exuding charm and whimsy, Vintage Village brings the hobby of antiquing into the 21st century by creating a space where all ages feel welcome to wander and play among the multigenerational antiques.
Sellars remembers the days when the phrase “antiques store” was equated with “prim and uptight,” or “stuffy,” so it’s important to her that customers understand that Suzanna’s Antiques offers a more fun, modern version of antiquing than they might have previously experienced.
“When we were younger, [antiquing] didn’t have this sort of atmosphere where you could come in and dig,” Sellars says. “You can come in and play [here], and move things around, and rearrange, and just have fun.” To be clear, “we’re not your grandma’s antiques shop.” But one of the many things they are is genuine. Sellars acknowledges the allure of stores that sell a high volume of reproductions that look like antiques, but Suzanna’s Antiques prides itself on selling only authentic, vintage items that reflect their farmhouse-antique-shabby-chic style.
Suzanna’s Antiques also sells products like Fusion mineral paint and cabinet fixtures, which can be used to update antique pieces. Customers love figuring out how to make a piece match their decor. “[An antique] might not be to their liking, but might be a family piece that they don’t want to get rid of, but they want to update it,” Sellars says. Suzanna’s can even help customers paint and reconfigure antiques to suit a contemporary lifestyle.
The store has had a significant influence on the antiques industry in Raleigh. Its opening was a catalyst for the creation of Vintage Village, and many of the village’s shop owners, like Jeanette St. Clair, who now runs St. Clair’s Décor, started their antiques career by working at Suzanna’s Antiques. Suzanna’s also helps antiques sellers by renting booths to 15 dealers (dealer booths make up half of the antiques sold in store), and some dealers eventually chose to expand from booths to permanent locations. At least six antiques stores in the Raleigh area can trace their origins back to Suzanna’s Antiques.
Your first visit to Vintage Village can be slightly overwhelming. The number of products available, coupled with the nostalgia and the memories that antiquing evokes, makes it easy to lose track of time once.
“I have people who walk in at one o’ clock on Sunday afternoon and I’m kicking them out at five o’ clock,” Sellars says.
Most of Vintage Village’s first-time customers are enticed to visit by Facebook posts from individual stores. Upon arriving, visitors are surprised by the number of antiques stores here, and the wide variety of products each offers.
“We have a look we kind of curate in each of the shops,” Sellars says. “We try not to step on each other’s toes.” Stores can be distinguished by their signature products, such as the large metal signs sold at Sam’s Country Porch, or by their overall aesthetic, like the French farmhouse look at St. Clair’s Décor.
Diversifying the products carried by each store keeps business booming for all of the stores, which is important to the community-driven village. Though Suzanna’s Antiques predates Vintage Village, each antiques store that moved in was welcomed as family, not competitors.
For Sellars, Vintage Village is about more than just sales; it’s about the atmosphere and sharing the customer experience she’s curated over the years. “If I did nothing more than inspire people, I’d be perfectly fine with that,” Sellars says. “My husband might not be. But I’d be happy.”
The Vintage Village
9300 Durant Road
Raleigh, NC 27614
(919) 844-2652 or facebook.com