Treasure Hunting up the 101
By Sami Zahringer
There is an air of hushed reverence in an antique store, almost like being in a church, as one peruses old objects with many tales to whisper. It is here you find the gimlet-eyed shopper looking for a bargain — a unique find — a treasure! Together, they create an atmosphere that most people find irresistible. Almost everybody loves snooping around in an antique store, including children, making it a fun outing for the entire family. It feels a bit like granny’s attic.
Read on for some of our favorite antique stores on the Central Coast, and design your own treasure trail.
Treasures of Ojai
Treasures of Ojai has been a fixture on Signal Street in downtown Ojai for 26 years. Owner Katrina Sexton has 35 years of experience working with licensed appraisers and fine art and antique professionals. At 7,000 square feet and chock full of the unexpected, it’s the largest antique store in the Ojai Valley. Treasures is a long-time favorite spot for locals to take their out-of-town visitors for a bit of eclectic retail therapy. 15 vendors and more than 200 consigners supply the items for sale, and the professional presentation and curation by Treasures staff make an Aladdin’s Cave of the place. Children and adults alike love poking around in vintage toys and Depression-era glassware. There is always some curiosity to be found and conversations to be sparked with children about what that funny object was actually used for. A recent visit yielded some gleeful surprises, including an armchair decorated in its entirety in tiny Native American beadwork, with a dazzling design of fantastical animals. Treasures, naturally, has a fair amount of Ojai memorabilia for purchase but there is also a good deal of Native American jewelry, antique and mid-century furniture and décor, plenty of vintage farm pieces, and some excellent vintage clothing.
Ojai is a pretty eccentric place, and eccentric artifacts show up often at Treasures. For women, especially, the vintage clothing finds can be really special. At the back of the store is an extensive collection of vinyl, and they often have quality musical instruments for sale. This long-time family business continues to thrive as Katrina’s son, Mason, now manages the store day-to-day. As locals and visitors will attest, no thrifting or antique expedition in Ojai is complete without a visit to Treasures.
Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. Learn more at treasuresofojai.com where you will also find a link to their Etsy site. Treasures of Ojai: 110 N Signal St, Ojai; (805) 646-2852
American Barn & Wood
About a decade ago, John and Kira Olshefski were in the market for an 18th Century Midwestern barn to refurbish for their California property. They found what they thought was an honest broker but were swindled painfully, and ended up with only half a barn. In the course of selling the timbers of that barn, they discovered an underserved market for antique barns in California. People loved the quality old-growth wood from the past and wanted to incorporate it into their own homes. Now, nine years later, the Olshefskis run American Barn and Wood, a thriving family-owned reclaimed wood and lumber yard located in Paso Robles. Their inventory comes from 1800s Midwestern barns. And yes, it is actually possible to deconstruct, then ship, an entire barn to California, then reconstruct and repurpose the wood for anything you like — even a home.
The bulk of Olshefski’s business is supplying reclaimed barn wood to contractors, decorators, homeowners, furniture and cabinetmakers, and anyone with a yearning to work with quality, old-growth wood from the past. They carry a selection of hand-hewn or rough-sawn beams, planks, weathered siding, and antique barn hardware. Reclaimed barn wood can be repurposed to make flooring, furniture, paneling, doors, wainscoting, and much more. Your imagination is really the only limit and the Olshefskis have the knowledge, enthusiasm, and excellent reputation for customer service to help you choose and purchase your piece of the past. Chestnut, for example, is a species that was wiped out in North America by an imported Asian fungus. The only way to obtain this hardy staple of the old Midwest now is to buy it as reclaimed wood.
To keep prices affordable, the business doesn’t use a wood broker but deals directly with Midwest dismantling teams and barn-salvage crews, including an Amish team from Indiana. They also buy barns from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Each barn’s history is researched and each piece of wood comes with its own provenance and photographs whenever possible, so you will always have a story to tell about it. When you visit, look out for Woody, Mama Cat, and Splinter, the three resident cats, once stray and now the inspiration behind the “Woody Calendar” — the sales from which raise money for North Country Paws Cause.
Hours of operation are Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 2 pm. (closed Sunday). To learn more, visit americanbarnandwood.com
American Barn & Wood: 3460 La Cruz Way #D, Paso Robles; (805) 610-7838
The Central Coast is full of places to score awesome antiques of all kinds. Other stops to make on your treasure-hunting trail include:
Remnants on Main
Nestled in rustic downtown Santa Paula, Remnants on Main is a delicious find for any antique-lover or collector. Owner Raquel Taylor has a particular and quirky eye for detail, and her imagination inspires unique home décor items out of vintage pieces, each one infused with history, soul, and individuality.
The store is a delight to enter and explore. With many vendors, Remnants has a comprehensive collection of high-quality vintage items, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. It is a popular place for couples to buy engagement and wedding rings. Remnants Main also hosts various workshops with classes in things like restoring family heirlooms and getting creative with home décor.
“Create, Inspire, Restore” is the shop’s motto and, of these, inspiration is the one you first experience. With just a brief browse of the store, you will emerge full of ideas and possibilities for your home.
Hours of operation are 11 am to 5:30 pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays). For more, visit remnantsonmain.com.
Remnants on Main: 944 E Main St, Santa Paula; (805) 204-6292
Located in downtown Ventura, Contrast is a breezy, well-lit establishment specializing in mid-century furniture, home décor, vintage clothing, and accessories. Items are carefully curated and arranged in imaginative ways. Be sure to check out their collection of specialty surfboards!
Open all week 11 am to 6 pm.
Contrast: 418 E Main St, Ventura; (805) 256-5026
The Summerland Antique Collective
The Summerland Antique Collective has been in continuous operation at the same location for 25 years. Its success has been garnered from designer-curated collections of high-quality vintage and antique items, and a staff willing to work with you to find the perfect piece for your own collection. New merchandise appears daily and the flair with which it is displayed sparks ideas and invites the casual browser, as well as the collector, to explore deeper. Chances are you will spend far longer in the Summerland Antique Collective than you’d have thought.
Visit their website at summerlandantiquecollective.com. The showroom is open Monday through Saturday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.
The Summerland Antique Collective: 2192 Ortega Hill Rd, Summerland; (805) 565-3189
Antique Center Mall
Now in its 14th year of operation, but comprising a team with over 35-years’ experience, The Antique Center Mall is recognized as Santa Barbara’s premier antiques and collectibles showroom, settling more estates than all of the other local companies combined. As Certified Personal Property Appraisers, their specialty is performing appraisals of both single items and entire estates, and conducting estate sales for clients throughout the region. Verbal on-site appraisals of pieces are available on a walk-in basis but if you suspect you have something of great value on your hands, a certified appraiser will guide you through the process and find trustworthy collectors and auction houses to handle the sale. The showroom itself hosts 20 different dealers and a wonderland of items running the gamut from antique through retro.
The store also has a lively eBay presence which may be accessed via antiquecentermall.com.
The Antique Center Mall is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday noon to 4 pm.
Antique Center Mall: 4434 Hollister Ave, Santa Barbara; (805) 967-5700
A Piece of the Past Antique and Vintage Mall
On the western end of Solvang, A Piece of the Past is a lively antique and vintage mall in the traditional “controlled chaos” style, which is a wonderful thing when treasure hunting! Who knows what you will stumble upon, or where! With over 4,000 sq. ft. of space and 28 different dealers, patrons will find fun shabby chic and vintage items galore, each piece tagged with its own description and whatever history of it is known. The prices are reasonable and the ladies on the shop floor are an informed but not pushy crew. The atmosphere is one of relaxed browsing with all sorts of curiosities to snoop out.
Find out more and plan your visit at apieceofthepastsolvang.com. Hours of operation are 7 days a week, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.
A Piece of the Past: 1430 Mission Dr, Solvang; (805) 688-5533
Los Alamos Depot Mall
The name “Los Alamos Depot Mall” is rooted in the fact that Los Alamos was, between 1882 and 1938, the end-of-the-line depot of the Narrow Gauge Pacific Coast Railway, which chiefly carried lumber to many Central Coast communities. A singular feature of the Depot Mall is its pub! Should you get thirsty hunting among the three rooms of antiques and vintage finds, you might find yourself wanting refreshment, and the pub has you covered!
Rumored to be haunted, the Depot contains worlds of curiosities. One day you might stumble across an antique diving helmet, the next a fully operational vintage Coca Cola vending machine with a collection of original Coke bottles. Amongst many other things, the store has a large number of collectible items and dishes, vintage tool sets, and vintage jewelry and clothing.
Hours of operation are 10 am to 5 pm daily. Check out this unique store/pub online at thedepotmall.com.
Los Alamos Depot Mall: 515 Bell St, Los Alamos; (805) 344-3315
As well as being an extensive antique mall, Something Different also handles estate sales for businesses and homes. Owner-operators Jim and Carolyn Rivaldi have run the Central Coast’s oldest and largest professional liquidation company since 1987. The stores themselves — one in downtown Arroyo Grande and the other in Nipomo — are vast with a lot of variety from old to new: furniture of all sorts, hats, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and even products to use to care for your wood antiques. If glassware is your thing, Something Different might be your Eden as it carries a bunch from all eras. Jewelry is also strongly featured.
Check out their website at 4somethingdifferent.com.
Something Different: 102 W Branch St, Arroyo Grande; (805) 481-8191, and 551 W Tefft St, Nipomo; (805) 929-5743
The Junk Girls
San Luis Obispo
The Junk Girls are Jenny and Melissa. After 18 years of working for Netflix and eBay and others, they founded The Junk Girls in 2009. The Junk Girls was borne out of Art Therapy for Jenny, and Melissa’s love for all things handmade. They focus on creating art, lighting, furniture, jewelry and home décor, and as much as possible create everything using recycled, repurposed, vintage, antique, and found items in the USA. The women’s passion for giving found, vintage, and forgotten objects a new life and purpose is evident in their brightly lit store located in San Luis Obispo’s Historic Muzio’s Building. Hand-stamped jewelry made from repurposed cutlery and other metals is Jenny’s specialty.
Hours are Monday to Thursday 10 am to 6 pm, Fridays 10 am to 8 pm, Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 6 pm. Visit their website at junkgirls.com.
The Junk Girls: 870 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo; (805) 439-0123
Rich Man Poor Man
Rich Man Poor Man is actually two stores located very close to each other amidst the Cambria pines. Joanna and Myles, the owners, bring a sense of fun to their vast premises, which feature countless different dealers and treasures of every sort. Dogs are welcome too! Within the store, look for the original Big John’s Man Cave.
The self-styled home of “man-tiques,” it is filled with vintage oil cans, sports memorabilia, signs — both vintage metal and those made to look so — big belt buckles, toys, Coke pieces, an authentic Bob’s Big Boy restaurant display, and a lot more. Some dealers seek out and bring in antique musical instruments, and the store often has much intrigue there. Best described as a vintage jungle, patrons can roam for hours, stop for lunch at a nearby restaurant, and resume browsing afterwards.
Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily. Check them out online at richmanpoormanantiques.com.
Rich Man Poor Man: 2110 and 2084 Main St, Cambria; (805) 203-5350