Trove of treasures in LaGrange Park
Laurence Santow specializes in showcasing Higgins glass pieces at the LaGrange Park Antique Mall. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
LaGrange Park Antique Mall
Location: 800 E. 31st St., LaGrange Park
Contact: (708) 354-1700, or www.lagrangeparkantiquemall.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:25AM
LAGRANGE PARK — The treasures of not one, but 30 dealers await visitors fond of the past.
The LaGrange Park Antique Mall offers a wide array of antiques and collectables, from Depression glass, opulent chandeliers and baby dolls to kitchen kitsch and sparkling costume jewelry.
“We bought the building 12 years ago and weren’t sure what to put in here,” said manager Linda Wilk, who has a background in property management, not antiques.
“We tried to lease it to several different companies, restaurants and other businesses,” Wilk recalled. “This building was an antique store prior to us, so we incorporated and made it a mall.”
The cavernous 6,600-square-foot building has a series of rooms leading shoppers from one dealer’s display to the next. Hidden gems, curiosities and warm reminders of the past lurk around every corner.
“The fun of all these things is the search for just what you want,” said Laurence Santow, who specializes in offering several types of glassware and jewelry with his wife, Gail.
Gail Santow said she feels a great deal of satisfaction in helping customers.
“One lady was looking for a horseshoe for a wedding, and she was so happy to find it,” she said. “It feels so good when somebody is happy with something they’ve bought. Even if you’re just looking, it’s fun to remember and find things from your childhood.”
As part of the lease agreement, dealers must take turns once a month to work at the mall and assist customers.
Another dealer, Theresa Bullock, specializes in mission furniture and frames of quarter sawn oak. Her husband, Ray, restores and rewires vintage floor lamps.
“We go shopping in southern Indiana to find things,” Theresa Bullock said.
Gail Santow said dealers have introduced a vintage clothing section and a salvage corner of odds and ends. Customers pick up pieces, which haven’t been restored, and repurpose them as a key rack or for other uses.
The mall also maintains a wish list, a book for customers to write down items they can’t find. Dealers check the book and occasionally can locate a requested item from other sources.
The rise of finding items on eBay, as well as the recession have hurt business, dealers admit, so they’ve organized events to pique interest in antiques. The mall has sponsored lectures on historical periods and a Victorian tea.
Still, the lure of unexpected treasures keeps customers coming in.
“If you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist,” Laurence Santow said.