Brightly colored baubles and delightful holiday villages have a way of taking us right back to Christmastimes long past.
Recapturing that feeling of gleefully opening presents by the delicately decorated tree on Christmas morning, or carefully setting up the Nativity set that has been handed down for generations, can sometimes be difficult without experiencing the nostalgia that comes from the items themselves.
If you’re looking to fill your home with sentiment and charm, try setting the holiday scene with antique and vintage items from one of the many boutiques right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
While definitions vary—some collectors say antiques have to be at least 100 years old, while others consider anything more than 40 years old to be an antique—the common consensus among antiques dealers in the Great Lakes Bay Region is any collectible object with meaningful age.
“The (antiques) business is changing,” says Howard Diefenbach of the Bay City-based Americana Company Antique Mall. “You can’t go into it with the idea you are going to make money off it. You have to go into it for the memories and the joy of it.”
While local experts suggest taking a fun rather than serious approach to antiquing, they do suggest inspecting the item for quality and condition before purchasing. If you know what you’re looking for before you head to the shops, do some price research to avoid overpaying.
Still, if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, be on the lookout for Shiny-Brites Christmas tree ornaments, which can sometimes be found in the original packaging; pre- and post-war Lionel model train sets; Putz Christmas villages and houses; North Pole gnomes with pinecone bodies and felt hats; cardboard, paper, or fabric Advent calendars; and aluminum trees, especially those with color wheels that project tinted light onto the tree.
You can, though, still build a valuable collection without rare items.
“Just buy something that really makes you happy,” says Barbara Heidinger, who, along with her husband, Gary, owns the Old Christmas Station in Frankenmuth. “Look for something in good condition that also brings joy to your heart.”
Americana Company Antique Mall
American nostalgia reigns supreme in this downtown Bay City staple, where you can find unique wintry items: Think vintage ice skates and one-of-a-kind ornaments and figurines. 912 N Water St, Bay City; 989-891-8721. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday.
This Old Town Saginaw shop specializes in estate sales and consignment, and it also carries an estimated 10,000 costumes, so you can expect to find everything from complete holiday decor collections to vintage Santa Claus suits. 412 Court St, Saginaw; 989-790-7469. Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday.
Bloomin’ Treasures Antique Mall
Look for unique pieces here, as the 20-plus vendors are always on the hunt for vintage Christmas items, such as tinsel trees, projecting color wheels, and Shiny-Brites ornaments in the original boxes. 11900 Gera Rd, Birch Run; 989-624-5510. Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday.
Every piece in this 20,000-square-foot warehouse, which features more than 70 dealers, is vetted for authenticity and quality by an in-house committee. Look for vintage cards or old Christmas ads. 1122 Tittabawassee Rd, Kochville Township; 989-755-4343. Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 12 – 6 p.m., Sunday.
Court Street Antiques
This whimsical shop has quirky and beautiful items that date back to the 1800s. Holiday time brings an array of pretty pastel ornaments, Santa figurines, and hand-crafted wreaths made with vintage pieces. 1214 Court St, Saginaw; 989-791-6898. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Saturday.
Old Christmas Station
This shop embodies German Christmas. Check out the rare and beautiful Dresdens, which are embossed, hand-painted cardboard ornaments made in the Dresden-Leipzig-Furth area of Germany from 1800 until WW11. 100 S Main St, Frankenmuth; 989-262-8196. Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday.