In 2015, the future of the Christie Antique Show was up in the air. Traditional antiques had lost their luster, dealers were retiring and sellers were no longer lining up for a spot at the popular show.
It all seemed to happen very quickly, says show coordinator Brittany Berlinghoff.
“There was a big drop off in vendors and there wasn’t the same number of people applying to be in the show or able to meet the strict requirements,” which included permitting dealers to only sell items that were more than 50 years old, Berlinghoff says.
The market was changing. As the desire for ornate furniture and china dried up, the demand for the clean lines of mid-century modern was booming.
Vintage furniture and decor was on trend.
“We were at a crossroads of keeping things the same and having a much smaller show or adapting with the times and celebrating vintage to keep the show sustainable for years to come,” says Berlinghoff.
The show’s diversity became one of its greatest strengths, she says.
Canada’s largest outdoor show changed its name to The Christie Antique & Vintage Show, to recognize the growing prevalence of vintage goods. In 2018, it attracted about 10,000 shoppers and 250 booths to its spring market in Dundas, Ont., one of two annual shows. This year’s spring show is May 25.
But just what is the difference between antique and vintage?
The Oxford Dictionary defines antique as “having a high value because of its age and quality.” In antiquing circles an antique is an object that is more than 100 years old but even that is flexible.
“Most people know that an antique should be really old, like 100 years old,” says dealer Marlene Cook, who owns the Sunday Antique Market in Toronto. But there is no set standard or definition of what makes something vintage,” she adds.
With vintage “people just naturally go to the place in their mind, like the 1950s. They have a vague idea about it but there’s nothing set in stone,” says Cook, who sees it as kind of arbitrary.
“There is no one dictating what the rules are about what is or isn’t vintage.”
The general consensus about what is vintage depends on the show or dealer but most markets and shows classify items 25 to 30 years and older as vintage.
“A vintage item should speak to the era from which it came, says Berlinghoff. “This could be anything from a teak mid-century credenza to vinyl records or an ’80s leather jacket. Vintage covers a plethora of subcategories.”
In general, anything less than 25 years old is not considered to be vintage. The Christie show allows dealers to sell anything 30 years or older.
“Although the heart of the show remains Canadiana and we still have many dealers who strictly deal in this, vintage is definitely a large and growing part of the show,” Berlinghoff adds.
Dave Smythe, who started the Ontario Vintage Market at the Evergreen Brick Works in 2018, has a strict mandate: “all vintage, 25 years or older, no new, no craft, no repros, no reworked, no vintage inspired and generally no re-purposed.
“Antique or flea markets in Toronto and Ontario were being diluted with new items/craft vendors,” he says. “It was time to take back the meaning of vintage in our own small way.”
Antique and vintage markets appeal to a wide swath of shoppers from serious collectors to treasure hunters, interior designers, day trippers and the eco-conscious, who buy previously loved goods to reduce their environmental footprint.
Cook, who will celebrate 30 years in business in June, says her dealers respond to the market and what’s in demand.
Buyers tastes have changed. What was popular 10 or 20 years ago just isn’t popular now. Royal Doulton figurines, Victorian cranberry glass, fancy tableware or old traditional brown furniture just aren’t moving these days.
At the Sunday Antique Market, customers are looking for interesting, eclectic pieces to add to their decor. You never know what you might find. A couple of weeks ago a vendor was selling 300-year-old artifacts including medical curios and a 100-year-old prosthetic arm.
Laura Béazley, the owner of the online shop Béazley Vintage Finds , says a new generation is interested in vintage décor, not just for the eclectic style it can add to their home or wardrobe, but because they want to make greener choices.
“People are much more aware about the environment and the idea of recycling and reusing and staying away from things that are mass manufactured, are made of pressboard and going to fall apart in six months’ time,” says Béazley.
When she started in the business in the 1990s, early Canadiana, garden, salvage and architectural remnants were popular. Today shoppers in their 20s and 30s have a different aesthetic which includes boho and jungalow. They are also leading a movement to support local, handmade and recycled items.
“There is a populace of people that are very interested in stuff from the ’70s and ’80s, says Béazley. Items their parents owned.
Although the number of antique markets and malls may be shrinking, new shows like the Ontario Vintage Market are popping up.
Doug Lane, who owns the 60-year-old Aberfoyle Market in Puslinch, Ont., says the antiquing experience is a big draw.
“(Aberfoyle) is one of the few antique markets where customers can engage the actual dealers. There is a very relaxed social atmosphere at Aberfoyle. This is one of the strongest components of our sustained success and, according to the customers, a very relaxing way to spend a Sunday,” says Lane.
Many markets are opening for the season as the warmer weather approaches. So, with that timing in mind, here are some popular markets near and far to check out as you search for the perfect conversation piece. After all, antiques and vintage finds can add character and personality to a home that just can’t be found in the shopping mall.
Where to find antique and vintage decor
Ontario Vintage Market
All items at least 25 years old. Located next to the Sunday Artisan Market at Evergreen Brickworks.
550 Bayview Ave., Toronto
Open: Every other Sunday starting May 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (May 19, June 2, 16, 30, July 14, 28, Aug. 11, 25 Sept. 8, 22, Oct. 6, 13, 2019)
Monthly from June to October curated market sells vintage, antiques, collectibles and handcrafted goods.
Starting June 9, JULY 7, AUGUST 11, SEPTEMBER 15, OCTOBER 6 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ashbridge Estate, 1444 Queen St. E., Toronto, and June 15, JULY 20, AUGUST 17 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Distillery District, 9 Trinity St., Toronto.
The Sunday Antique Market
Toronto’s weekly antique market has an eclectic mix of antique and vintage finds from a fresh mix vendors each week
125 The Esplanade (near St. Lawrence Market) Toronto
Open: Sundays 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Parkdale Flea
Features vintage, antiques, and new works by local artisans
1605 Queen St. W. Toronto
Open: Second Saturday every month, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
ABOUT AN HOUR’S DRIVE FROM TORONTO
Aberfoyle Antique Market
Antiques, collectibles, folk art and furniture
57 Brock Rd. S. , Puslinch, Ont.
Open: Sundays April 28 to Oct. 27, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday markets is $2 per adult, children under 12 free.
Two special shows June 15 and Sept. 21 feature more than 90 guest dealers joining the regular lineup. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. $8 per adult.
Christie Antique & Vintage Show
Ten acres of antiques and vintage furniture, architectural antiques, sports memorabilia, jewelry, textiles.
Christie Conservation Area, 1000 Hwy. 5 West, Dundas, Ont.
Admission is $10, children under 12 free.
Open: May 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Vintage at the 40
Dealers from the Hamilton and Niagara area selling vintage fashion, jewelry, furniture and accessories
Grimsby Museum, 6 Murray St. Grimsby, Ont.
Open: June 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
INDOOR YEAR ROUND MULTI-VENDOR ANTIQUE MALLS
Roadshow’s Antiques North
More than 200 antique dealers selling antiques, collectibles and vintage goods
2207 Industrial Park Rd. Innisfil, Ont.
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
More than 35,000 square feet of antiques and collectibles.
73 Water Street N. Cambridge, Ont.
Open daily, year-round. Check web site for hours. Monday to Wednesday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Beaumont Mill Antiques & Collectibles
Antiques and vintage kitchenware, china, furniture, memorabilia, art and jewellery
586 Main St. Glen Williams, Ont.
Open: Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Freelton Antique Mall
More than 200 vendors sell antiques and collectibles
248 Freelton Rd. Freelton, Ont.
Open: Daily except Tuesdays. Hours Vary. Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Market Road Antiques
More than 100 vendors sell antiques and collectibles
8465 Weber St. North Waterloo
Open: Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
St. Jacob Antiques Market
More than 100 vendors selling antiques and collectibles.
805 King St. N., St. Jacobs, Ont.
Open: Daily 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
Waterford Antique Market
More than 60 vendors sell antiques and vintage items
80 B Alice St. Waterford, Ont.
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lakeshore Antiques and Treasures
More than 6,000 sq. ft. of antiques and collectibles
855 Lakeshore Rd. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Open: daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.