From shelves and cabinets, from high perches and floor nooks, indeed, from every imaginable cranny of the Antique Marketplace, objects peer at you.
But if you cock your ear and listen very, very closely, you can almost hear them, the whisperings and murmurings of a thousand-and-one antiques, jockeying for your attention.
A wooden stick with the words “Shoshone Warrior” on them, a hat from the Flapper era, glassware, old cameras and watches still ticking, old radios that may have carried the Fred Allen show or an FDR address.
Even a hefty, black, bronzed skull flashing a fleshless grin.
Oh, the stories they could tell, whose pockets they have been in, whose homes they’ve inhabited, of times and places all the way from early America up to the 1980s.
The Antique Marketplace, Auburn’s newest business arrival, is one of those places where, as the old song from Disney’s “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” goes, “The riches of ages are stowed.”
Only, this store can be found, not on Portobello Road on London’s West End, as in the Disney film, but on Howard Road in Southeast Auburn.
Owner Carly Willis wants it to be a fun place.
“I want everyone who walks through that door to find something that they want. I want them to see oddities,” said Willis.
The aisles are blue, the spaces are gray, the paint is barely dry on the walls and on the mural. All is bright, and, unlike the establishments of so many antique dealers, uncluttered.
There are 90 spaces for dealers to fill with their things. Willis has 80 dealers now and is closing in on finding the rest. But convincing dealers to put their things in a brick and mortar store these days poses a bit of a challenge.
“They hem and haw about whether they want to do it because they have a successful online business, but it’s just so much more fun to walk into a store and actually see it, rather than search for it online,” said Willis.
Willis is not a newbie to the business of old things.
She grew up working with her father, Richard Mirau, former owner of the Tacoma Antique Center next to the Poodle Dog restaurant in Fife. When her dad lost his lease earlier this year and went into semi-retirement with an eBay business he runs from his home, she decided she’d carry on elsewhere.
And elsewhere turned out to be Auburn.
“I had a couple of months to throw this together because I didn’t want to lose the dealers and I didn’t want to lose the customers. I told myself, the customers are there, the dealers are there, everybody is there, I just need to find a place. So I went out immediately and found this,” Willis said of the new digs.
“There wasn’t much in here when we got here. So I had all the walls done, had the flooring done. We’ve taken it from nothing to something,” Willis said.
Take a look at the mural on the wall, painted by local artist Brittany Jans.
“I told her I wanted it to be the Industrial Revolution, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, all the way up to the 1980s. She did all of it from scaffolding and was up there for weeks. She put her heart and soul into it. I have been blessed by having all the right people coming into this big project at the right time to get it finished,” said Willis.
For the time being, the Antique Marketplace is Willis’ main occupation, but she and her husband are also residential real estate brokers and run the DCD Property Group.
Willis loves what she’s doing.
“Right now, people are looking for some sort of joy in life because a lot of it has been taken away this year, and because of that, we’re doing quite well and I really hope it will continue. We opened Nov. 17, and it’s just going over like gangbusters,” said Willis.