Rummaging Through Sonoma’s Antique Trail
Two Girls Head to Wine Country For A Different Kind Of Vintage Experience
Recently on a lazy Sunday, my roommate, Mel, and I ventured up to Sonoma for a little antiquing and vintage shopping.
The fog still hugged the hills as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and up Highway 101, always a beautiful and mystical scene, especially among the vineyards.
By the time we reached the border of Marin and Sonoma Counties an hour later, the sun was shining bright in the sky and wine country was just waking up and so were we.
Mel and I had been talking about this day trip to wine country for a while until we finally marked a date on the calendar when her boyfriend needed to spend quality time with his family and Super G, my girlfriend, was away.
List of shops in hand we plotted our plan of attack making our first stop in Petaluma. The historic downtown Petaluma has a handful of antique shops all within walking distance, such as Chick-A Boom! Vintage (7 Western Avenue; 707-776-4678; Etsy.com/Shop/ChickaBoomVintage), Summer Cottage Antiques (153 Kentucky Street, Petaluma) with French Country Life upstairs, and Vintage Bank Antiques (101 Petaluma Boulevard, North;707-769-3097; Facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Bank-Antiques/187168999619).
These stores will soon be joined by Yankee Girl Antiques.
One of the reasons why we chose Petaluma as our first stop is that it’s easy to get to directly from San Francisco. Petaluma is right off of the main highway and the first town after crossing the county line into Sonoma. Mel and I cruised into the town, just as it was beginning to get its first lazy Sunday morning stretch and got primo parking on Kentucky Street. There’s also a bevy of antique and vintage shops all within walking distance of each other.
Since we started our day early, most of the shops weren’t open after our hour drive from the city. When antiquing, thrift store or vintage shopping (take your pick of how you want to call it) the first rule of thumb is to be the early bird (which was a challenge for us night owls, Mel and me, but we did it!). Vintage Bank Antiques literally just cracked open its doors when we walked in around 10 a.m.
Vintage Bank Antiques is a behemoth of an antique shop right on the edge of the entrance into old town Petaluma on the main street, Petaluma Boulevard,that can’t be missed. It takes up nearly a whole block and is jam packed with artifacts.
This place is for true collectors who get a thrill out of digging through boxes and shelves in room after room like going through your Aunt Sally’s attic. Mel and I browsed, pausing as we sifted through books, china, jewelry, old pictures in boxes, paintings, and other nick knacks. We found some good stuff, but we also questioned some of the validity of some of the objects that the store owners’ deemed “antique” status along with some of the pricing, especially artwork and books.
The best deal at Vintage Bank Antiques, Mel and I felt that we found was the jewelry. We found some gems from bracelets, ear rings, and rings that were beautiful and very reasonably priced. If you are looking to put a ring on a certain single girl’s finger and she likes vintage fashion, we definitely suggest checking out this place.
An hour or so passed before we emerged from the Vintage Bank Antiques. Mel and I were ready to find some fashionable frocks, so we headed across the street to Chick-A Boom! Vintage. We were immediately turned off by the prices and the overly worn shoes and dresses throughout the shop. Mel leaned over to me while I was getting zapped with sticker shock looking at a pair of clearly very used heels, whispering my exact thoughts into my ear, “We could do much better in the city.” This was seconds after walking through the door. Giving the shop a chance for a little more consideration, we ventured further into the racks still getting zapped and even pricked by a pin hidden in the folds of a garment by the quality and the prices. We thought that the clothes would have been reworked a bit so they would look only slightly worn, shoes repaired and the prices for dresses in Chick-A-Boom! Vintage were in the low- to mid-$100s, Mel’s found much better quality and prices on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley or Haight and Valencia Streets in San Francisco.
When we got home we looking up vintage or retro fashions on Nasty Gal and other websites, just for a reality check, but it only validated our gut feelings and our own knowledge on wanting to look groovy, not wear rags (although the clothes weren’t nearly quite that bad), while being kind to our pocketbooks. We were basically shocked, turned off, and quickly made our way through the store before finally turning our noses up in disgust and walking out disappointed.
What we didn’t expect to find, but did, is a new twist on vintage, re-made vintage, which Mel and I ate up when we walked into Summer Cottage Antiques around the corner and one block down on Kentucky Street.
We loved how clean, well lit and organized the store is. Forget about barrel diving and sifting through moldy smelling clothes and grungy racks to find a gem to take home and clean up to its former glory. This store is part vintage part retro with adorable items made from yesteryear’s relics and a craft corner filled with antique buttons and other items to make your own re-made fashion or home decor. I loved, loved the painted travel boxes with post cards from the 40s and 50s of California and other destinations. We also liked the collection of vintage labels from beer, whisky, wine and a lot of California fruit companies and farms that have since faded into the Golden State’s dust.
We found an additional delight for Francophiles on the second floor of Summer Cottage Antiques with French Country Life. Up there in the open attic we found a taste of France with old French magazines, books, house wares, and more all nicely laid out for our browsing.
We also spotted down the street that this month there will be an addition to Petaluma’s thriving collectables community. A sign on another storefront on Kentucky Street announced that Yankee Girl Antiques (127 Kentucky Street; email@example.com; YankeeGirlAntiques.com) will be opening up at the location soon. The store in expected to open by September 28 for the Petaluma Antique Faire, according to the shop’s Facebook Page.
There are more antique shops around Petaluma, but we needed to refuel and we wanted to check out what other Sonoma County towns had to offer, so Mel and I headed off down Highway 12 toward Sonoma the city itself.
We stopped off at the Fremont Diner (2698 Fremont Drive; 707-938-7370; TheFremontDiner.com), a hopping place in the middle of the vineyards and basically an oasis in the middle of nowhere, but well worth the discovery.
Stuffed from our spicy fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, grilled cheese and tomato soup and milk shakes, we set off again for the heart of Sonoma.
Sonoma doesn’t offer as much in terms of vintage shops, so it probably wasn’t the best choice off of the list, but we found another re-made vintage store with the flavor of France’s countryside at Chateau Sonoma (153 West Napa Street; 707-935-8553 ChateauSonoma.com). This is an upscale vintage inspired boutique. The shop is a bit pricey, but really nice. Stepping through its doors you definitely feel like you’ve been whisked away to a country general store in Provence with a mixture of vintage and remade vintage items. The back of the store opens up into a skincare shop and then out onto a patio filled with stone statues and fountains. Mel and I enjoyed browsing through the shop looking at all of the pretty things.
Our next stop was at Sisters Consignment Couture (117 West Napa Street; 707-933-8422; SonomaConsignment.com) right down the street from Chateau Sonoma. This is what we were looking for in Petaluma. The store carries the cutest dresses, slacks and tops in a charming setting. The store is well organized and carries a variety of vintage clothing touched up for a new glorious day and consignment boutique pieces at very reasonable prices. The dresses and other clothes ranged from $20 and up depending on the quality and the designer. We were delighted to see vintage Oscar de la Renta fashions next to jewelry made mostly by local jewelry makers. Mel and I didn’t find anything that necessarily inspired us to take home, but we will definitely make it a point to stop by Sisters on our next vintage romp to Sonoma.
After all of this shopping we needed a drink. On our way back to San Francisco we stopped off at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards to enjoy a little bubbly in the late summer afternoon. While we didn’t find anything to bring home this time, the day was a successful as we plot another day to venture up to Sonoma for antiquing and vintage shopping.
Here are some upcoming events to help you rummage through Sonoma:
September 29: The Petaluma Antique Faire. More than 180 antique dealers and vendors will take over historic downtown Petaluma between 4th and Kentucky Streets and B to Washington Streets for the 28th annual vintage festival. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is free. Mason’s Breakfast in the Mason Building is an additional $8. Mark your calendars for the spring fair April 26, 2015. 707-762-9348; firstname.lastname@example.org; PetalumaDowntown.com/Antique-Faire-Petaluma.html.
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