The sky-blue triangular building that houses Antiques Emporia is hard to miss when entering or leaving Cape May via Perry Street. Pam Patrick and her husband bought the building 48 years ago for his plumbing supply business. Various other businesses have occupied the expansive wood and stucco building, including a car dealership during the early 1900s. When her husband relocated his business, Pam transformed the building into an antique and collectible venture. The current striped awning clad windows were once the garage doors.
Although Pam has an affinity for antiques—her home is filled with them—she only rents space to antique and collectible vendors. In 2001, her daughter, followed by another daughter, joined the family enterprise. Tea by the Sea and Happy Baby bookend the building with Antiques Emporia at its center.
Pam is at Emporia often, but she is a busy gal. She maintains a working farm where she raises sheep, waking at 4am each day. One of her customers is Historic Cold Spring Village, which recently bought five sheep. She has a real estate license and buys and sells properties with her husband, often doing the renovations themselves. Yet, she still finds the time to be with her daughters and grandchildren, accompanying them in sports, fishing, parties, and more. Her energy level is astounding. She likes to say that she’s semi-retired but with that unstoppable drive, it doesn’t appear that way.
That’s why she has reliable help to assist her at Antiques Emporia. Pam says, “We are like one big family here. Staff and vendors are always there to lend a hand.” When I noticed that years ago during a visit, many of the same vendors still rent space from her, now she said how many of them regret it when a life situation forces them to leave. They come from all walks of life: firemen, schoolteachers, a psychologist, plumbers, and more. Many hold full time jobs, others are retired.
Antiques Emporia has 40+ dealers that sell antiques and collectibles juxtaposed against new merchandise. It’s difficult to say what will sell because the merchandise is so diverse, but you’d be hard pressed not to discover your “treasure.” There are booths that specialize in nautical items, others military. Star Wars collectibles, Playschool toys, and Barbie and Ken dolls fill another.
Many vendors outdo themselves in interior design. One booth has weather-worn cedar planks acting as shelves balancing tin ship lanterns, leather-bound gold embossed books, glass buoys, and a World War II US Navy compass. There are original bright hand-braided nautical bracelets, a faceted shelled purse, and an early 1900s view camera with a folding tripod. Anyone ready to don a sailor suit and have your photo taken?
Another booth color coordinates its merchandise—deep blue strands of beaded glass necklaces and bracelets, alongside kitschy beach signs like “Don’t Worry Beach Happy.” In the window is bone-white china; opposite is a wall of pottery, jewelry, beach hats, and glassware in beige and browns with a splash of navy blue.
Another wall is filled with wooden Cape May coordinate plaques and maps with detailed nautical charts. If you’re in the market for reasonably priced jewelry, a very popular item, look no further; the Antiques Emporia has it. Purses hang from a clothes tree across from a vintage typewriter to write your next novel, perchance.
A collection of sports memorabilia, baseball cards, signed bats, and official programs for boxing events, Super Bowls, Eagles, and Phillies games are for sale. Another booth contains military pins, along with old stainless steel medical instruments. For the train enthusiast planning their next layout, there are trains and model houses.
On one wall hangs Hot Wheels cars, another booth contains colorful depression glass, still another, an assortment of LP albums ranging from the 1950s to 1990s. There are vintage books and magazines for sale. A wicker baby coach overflows with collectible Beanie Babies. Another dealer has vintage Troll dolls with tufts of hair in luminescent pink, orange, yellow, and purple.
There’s a limited amount of large furniture available to purchase. An antique oak writing desk and a painted Bombay chest are for sale, but with the store’s location, hauling is tricky. In the past there have been some remarkably heavy items, as Pam recalls. “One day a fellow bought a Civil War cannon on New Year’s Day, you should’ve seen us getting that out of the store.” I didn’t ask how it got there in the first place. She continued, “Remember this building was once a garage, and the windows we had in place of garage doors could be removed, so we did. He backed up his truck and we found some wooden planks. Every able dealer pushed on that cannon. You should’ve seen how the bed of his truck tilted down, but we got it in. I don’t know what he told his wife when he returned to the hotel room. I sure would’ve loved to hear that explanation.” She grinned.
And if a Civil War cannon wasn’t enough, she recalled selling a stuffed grizzly bear that was owned by the same vendor. Yikes! Imagine getting that several hundred-pound, six-foot-plus tall creature into a vehicle.
There’s a booth with a whimsical collection of cookbooks, some with a southern flair like Mayberry Cookbook and The Grits Guide to Life. In the children’s books section there’s not only the classic Goodnight Moon, but Goodnight iPad.
If you’re in the market for clothing, there’s a booth with gauzy linens in earthy tones and vibrant colors that pop, perfect for a stroll on the beach or in town. Imagine the folds of the material unfurling in the sea breeze. There are infinity scarves, summer dresses, and blouses, along with straw hats in every shape and size. There are organic lotions and scented handmade soaps which would make a perfect gift for a friend or just for yourself.
And don’t forget before you leave to look in a showcase for Cape May vintage beach tags. Then off you’ll go with your treasures in hand.
Antiques Emporia is open year-round. Summer hours are 10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. Reduced hours off season. Phone: 609 898-3332. The location is 405 West Perry Street in West Cape May.