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Antiquing: not just for geezers

Antique stores in downtown Tacoma are now targeting Millennials and Gen Xers

Think you’re too young for your memories to already be antiques? Think again. Photo credit: Jackson Hogan

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When you think of antique stores, a few images pop into your head, none of them likely positive. The stereotype is that they're dusty, filled with old objects that seem like ancient artifacts, and they always seem to have at least one super-creepy doll hiding in there. However, times are changing, and newer generations want to see remnants of their youth in stores, not leftovers from their grandparents' time. Many of the stores in downtown Tacoma's "Antique Row," located on Broadway right next to the theaters, have taken note of this, and walking through these shops can be a very unique experience.

The largest and weirdest of the locations on Antique Row has to be Sanford & Son Antiques and Auctions, which may or may not have been named after the classic TV show. Right as you walk in the door, you're greeted by a life-size replica of the Terminator staring you down. And we're not talking Arnold; this is the intimidating metallic skeleton right out of the 1984 film. Walking into the building itself, it feels more like a mall than a solitary store, with many different rooms in its three-floor space, many of which are owned by separate businesses (which include non-antique services like a barbershop). Still, there's a charm to Sanford's disorganized chaos, and if you dig hard enough, you can find plenty of ‘70s and ‘80s treasures that any Gen Xer would recognize from their childhood. Eight-track cassettes, electric football sets, Mork and Mindy dolls, and many more quirky curios were up for sale, if you're willing to search.

Sanford & Son in Tacoma has a number of goodies for Millennials. Photo credit: Jackson Hogan

One of my personal favorites was Lily Pad Antiques, who specialized in toys and kid-friendly items, mostly from the ‘80s and ‘90s. It was a little odd to see Star Wars and Spider-Man action figures, but I could've expected that, given that the kids that played with them were now in their 30s and 40s. What really dumped me into a nostalgia hole was that apparently Pokémon, Shrek, and Harry Potter toys are considered "antiques." As someone who grew up with these iconic turn-of-the-century icons, and was particularly obsessed with Pokémon back in my elementary school days, this instantly seemed off to me. The fact that Lily Pad was playing the Backstreet Boys as I was perusing made me feel absolutely ancient. Is this how Baby Boomers feel every day when they turn on classic rock radio?

Of course, you could still reasonably make an argument for Shrek and Pokémon being, if not "antiques," at least retro. The year 2001 was a very different time. However, one store had some very interesting items being sold under the antiques banner, like Guitar Hero action figures and even the Twilight book series, which are barely a decade old at this point. In a way, it's sort of a genius idea: buy something, wait 10 years, and then resell it for a higher price because people want to revisit the past, even the recent past.

Still, although I personally wouldn't classify some of these items as antiques, Tacoma's Antique Row is a very unique place to hunt down items from your childhood. Unless you're actually old, then try literally any other antique store. I'm sure they'll have those sketchy porcelain dolls from the 1920s you're looking for.

Sanford and Son Antiques & Auction, noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, 743 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.272.0334

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