The Future of the Past

See what is in antique stores nowadays, and wonder at what they will hold in the future.


Macy Vance

This is a booth from the store Sentimental Journey that is selling clothes, soap, statues, and art. Image by Macy Vance.

Macy Vance, Copy Editor

My current obsession is all about new discoveries of old things, also called antiquing! Dusty bookshelves, rustic furniture, and hidden gems are just some of my favorite aesthetics of quaint shops around town. Antique shops are unpredictable stores, typically full of niche booths and worlds of hidden secrets. Similar to thrift stores, antique shops sell vintage things rather than clothes. You never know what you will find, and that is why popping into antique shops is one of my favorite pastimes. 

Antique shops are both sustainable and affordable, which is very good news for frugal high school students. Instead of heading to Target to decorate your living space with “rustic” new things, discover something unique and authentic in the nooks and cranies of your local antique market. Every piece you buy at an antique shop will be eccentric, sure to start conversations! I love the idea of reusing and repurposing items that others are done with, giving an old thing a new life. This adds charm to your home without harming the environment or your bank account. The furniture market is a scarcely-known polluter to the planet due to its high demand for raw materials and synthetic fabrics, according to We Design Green Magazine. Deforestation and plastic pollution can be deterred the more people revive vintage items, which is the goal of many antique shops. Most articles you find at antique shops will also be way more affordable than shopping at home good stores or boutiques. Each vendor sets their own prices, and they will often add additional discounts to damaged goods. A lot of shops will have storewide sales around holidays, or even for every first weekend of the month! Going to antique shops before hitting a classy furniture store can end up saving you a lot of money while gifting you an unrepeatable piece. 

Booth #808 is having a sale, showing that the affordable antiques will ring up under budget. (Macy Vance)

Most high schoolers don’t need to decorate a whole house, but the seniors do have dorms to think about. Even if you are not planning a room makeover anytime soon, antique shops can be a fun way to spend an afternoon with your family or friends. I know my grandma would have a riot walking into Sentimental Journey in Olathe, KS, pointing out vintage items that she remembers from childhood. If you and your friends are stuck in a hang-out rut, try branching out into the world of antiques. Those stores are jam-packed with unexpected things everywhere you turn, so having a second set of eyes helps you see items you might’ve overlooked. A fun game you can play with your friends is to split up and try to find items that embody who the other person is. This can lead to some pretty wild discoveries that make you laugh or bring a smile to your face. If you’ve never braved an antique shop, going with friends ensures a memorable time. 

Hopefully, by now, I’ve sold you on going to an antique shop! But now, where to go? Kansas City is blessed to have a number of locations to satisfy your journey into the past. My favorite stop is the aforementioned Sentimental Journey, which is the oldest antique shop in Kansas City. It has seemingly infinite eclectic booths that lead into hours of exploration, and my friends and I always find an absolute steal. We bought everything from throw pillows to red cowboy boots on our most recent visit, being a real testament to the diversity of products up for sale. Only a three-minute drive away, Green Expressions Antiques has a similar setup. Our favorite find was a whole room full of neon bar signs that took our breath away. The city of Olathe has a cluster of shops you can hit up: A Place In Time Antiques, Lone Elm, and Vintage Trader’s Antique Mall—very ideal for efficient antiquing. The largest and most famous antique shop in KC is called River Market Antiques, a 22-minute drive from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. While this may be more out of your way, it is very worth it! With four teeming floors, this is your one-stop shop for all your antiquing desires. The top level is entirely vintage clothes, and there are endless steals and deals. Since 70s style and older fashion trends and recycling back into modern fashion, the top floor is an absolute must-go, just try not to empty your pockets!

Sentimental Journey has a long, quirky storefront off the side of the highway saying, “ANTIQUES”. (Macy Vance)

Saints, with Senior Mass right around the corner (May 5), I’ve been wondering what to carry. If you are new to this iconic Aquinas tradition, the seniors walk in with an item that embodies their time spent at school and place it on the altar during their last Mass with the entire school. Many bring up their cleats or coffee mugs, but this event has led me to wonder about the important objects in our lives. How soon will our beloved phones be on the cluttered shelves of antique shops? Will time erode the significance of these objects we now cling to so fondly? I guess I’ll see you in the vintage stores 40 years down the road, looking at our prom dresses and books from 2023. It will be nice to laugh and reminisce about the good old days, but what are the items that will outlive us? What will gain a new life, and what will lose its shine?

In the end, no one can precisely predict where trends and technology are headed for our future years. It will sure be strange to encounter Squishmallows and Stanley cups amidst the blissful chaos of an antique store, but I hope we can value long-lasting things more than the quickly-passing. The hobby of antiquing is a unique and green pastime that I feel our generation has lost. We all value the newest clothes and items, but there is so much history and charm in the things of the past. I encourage you to rally up your friends and try something new this spring, shopping in the world of the old. In the dust-covered collections, ask yourself, “What is the thing of most value?” I hope you chose the eternal, not the ephemeral.