Antique shops make Bay St. a stroll down Memory Lane

They sit on a single block, two nearly side by side, the other a two-story structure looming just across the street.

Off The Wagon Antique Market, Wisteria Lane and the Olde Central Antique Mall all operate on the premise that everything old is new again.

And even though they attract a similar clientele, employees at all three believe they can be different enough to remain successful.

“This is a tourist town,” said Marsha Cimarcia, an employee at the Olde Central Antique Mall. “People come here from the water. They like to eat and check out the shops.”

Just to the right of the main entrance, orchestra bells resonate from The Empress Coin Piano. While not for sale, music is a staple at the Olde Central Antique Mall. Cimarcia said fans of the Beatles and Elvis Presley are regular customers, in addition to those looking for musical instruments. She mentioned a flute priced at $175 that she said would run $350 in a music store.

“They can find good, quality stuff at a good price,” she said.

But it’s not just about music. They sell nautical equipment that might be used to create a theme room in a house or out in the yard, and 50-year-old photos that Cimarcia said people use as postcards that might depict a relative or a scenario they remember from childhood.

“It’s memory lane for a lot of people,” she said.

For others, retro is fashionable. Off The Wagon Antique Market caters to those who want to outfit their homes with classics.

“We’re trying to really focus on furniture,” said co-owner Kellyn Dixon, explaining that the business recently relocated from Bremerton. “There’s a lack of furniture that’s available in Port Orchard.”

While co-owner Kelly Berg says, “You’d be surprised how many young people come in to decorate their homes,” that isn’t their only audience.

“You get the older people who come in and reminisce,” fellow owner Denise Garcia said. “They say, ‘I used to have this spoon. I wish I hadn’t thrown it away.’ ”

And a couple doors down, Brenda Matheson has Christmas music playing at Wisteria Lane. The store, which opened July 1, was set up to display its items, such as furniture, in a manner they might be presented in a home.

“A lot of people have it stored in the attic,” Matheson said. “They don’t know how to display it.”

Wisteria Lane sells dolls, collectibles, furniture, gift baskets, floral arrangements, centerpieces, jewelry and artwork.

“I think it’s good to be diversified,” Matheson said. “If you’re too into one thing, there’s just not enough clientele.”

Matheson’s store might be viewed as the high-end offering of local antique shops.

“I have Americana stuff, but it’s not beat up,” she said.

So how do three antique shops in one area — with others in close proximity — survive?

“There’s no competition,” Matheson said. “We’re really so different. It just depends on your taste.”

While they’re separately owned, all agree they have a partnership in a sense.

“We’re like cousins,” Garcia said. “We refer people over there all the time.”

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