Check out Kitsch-y-Cool Vintage and Sleepy Poet on the cover of the Style Section in today's Charlotte Observer!
Anything to fit your fancy
Sleepy Poet's cavernous new digs hold 50,000 square feet of fabulous, vintage finds
MARK PRICE firstname.lastname@example.org
GARY O'BRIEN/Observer staff
Sleepy Poet Antique Mall will be one of the biggest antique malls in the Southeast, which makes it a Charlotte tourist destination. Co-owner Beryl Imboden poses with an unusual trombone lamp, one of many unusual things for sale in the 50,000-square-foot mall.
Check out pics of the rest of the mall:• Slideshow: 50,000 square feet of antiques at Sleepy Poet
Click here for a Cool 360 Panoramic view of Kitsch-y-Cool Vintage!
• Panoramic View | So Many Worthy Things at Sleepy Poet
SLEEPY POET ANTIQUE MALL
Where: 4450 South Blvd. (north of Woodlawn Road)
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Friday - Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sundays.
Details: 704-529-6369; www.sleepypoetstuff.com.
It's the kind of store where you'll find plaid bell bottoms from the '60s, century-old church furniture, and a floor lamp made from a trombone, all within feet of each other.
That alone makes the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall a unique shopping experience.
But multiply such artifacts by the thousands, and you get a 50,000-square-foot emporium dedicated to the antique, the chic and the downright strange.
The mall, at 4450 South Blvd., is holding its grand opening today, or rather its grand reopening. It was located just outside historic South End for the past eight years, but recently had to move when the land went up for sale.Sleepy Poet is now housed in a former auto parts shop that is nearly three times as big, prompting the operators to boast that shoppers can literally "lose themselves" among the crisscrossing aisles of stuff.
"It's hard to narrow down what might be the most unusual thing we have in here, but my favorite is the full-size soap box derby car," says Beryl Imboden, who co-owns the mall with business partner Dickson Shreffler."Then again, we're probably the only place in town you'll find a lighted girdle display from the '40s and a suspender and garter display from an old men's store. I'm guessing it's from the '30s, and it still has suspenders and garters on it."
Who would buy such a thing, she has no clue. However, it's only $84. "Suspenders and garters sold separately," Imboden adds, with a grin.Such diversity is available because the mall is made up of 167 vendors, many of whom specialize. Old furniture, the standard of antique stores, is sprinkled throughout. But there are also areas devoted to old vinyl albums, copper accessories, antique toys and old kitchenware. One booth, labeled "Almost Art," spotlights paintings by bad artists.
The mall also has an impressive selection of vintage clothing sold by Christi Schiavo-Williams. The booth, called Kitsch-y-Cool, features casual, classy and tacky clothing from the 1930s into the '80s. Accessories include purses, hats, jewelry, men's ties and thigh-high stockings from the '60s. Prices range from $5 to $200.
"Most items are under $50," says Schiavo-Williams.
"My usual customer is 20-something and wants an individual style, but I also see older ladies who simply want a neat dress for a party, something different than what you'd find in a store."
The grand opening today will formally unveil what is among the country's largest indoor antique malls. Asheville is home to the region's largest, the 70,000-square-foot Antique Tobacco Barn, which draws more than 90,000 visitors a year.
It's believed Sleepy Poet could do equally well, given statistics that show the Charlotte region now ranks as the Carolinas' most popular tourist destination, based on visitor spending. Officials with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority say they intend to add it to the region's list of tourist destinations, and will play up that it is adjacent to the newly opened light rail corridor.
"We expect to see a lot of people who love antiques, but their experience is not just about shopping," says co-owner Imboden.
"It's really about nostalgia. This is the kind of place where people come in and find the kind of penny gum machine they saw at the barber shop when they were a kid, the old lamp that sat on Dad's night stand, and the dishes that they ate pound cake off at Grandma's house.
"We have many people who come here just for stress relief. They show up just to take a deep breath, walk the aisles and remember."