It's About the Story

Published on

Stuffed with heaps of clutter and a handful of ancient treasures, the attic rests in peaceful slumber just above the rafters. Every item in this rarely-visited space—cushions sunken from countless tales told on loving laps, eternal smiles plastered on porcelain faces, linen petals embroidered through dexterous fingers, and yellowed stacks of timeworn headlines that flaunt their ripened age—wears a silky skin of dust to preserve the passage of time like Pompeii ash.

Sometimes, one or two of these long-forgotten mementos hold more value than its owners realize—collectibles, vintage wares, and antiques that not only represent days gone by and memory-provoking nostalgia, but that maintain a rarity and worth that collectors seek.

Several antique stores have cropped up in the Chippewa Valley over the past decades like dandelions in spring, making the area prime hunting grounds for serious vintage-seekers and casual knick knack browsers alike.

One of the most popular of these local shops is The Shed, an antique store and flea market headquarters in Altoona that has been drawing in curious customers for an entire decade. Housing a diverse variety of items from over 70 vendors, The Shed has taken its rightful spot as not only the largest, but perhaps the most sought-after antique hub in the Chippewa Valley.

“It’s a destination stop,” said owner and operator of The Shed, Ed Bohn.

Walking into an antique store can be a little overwhelming if you’re not exactly sure what kinds of things to look for or which items are valuable. The good news is, as Bohn explained, that the items considered “collectibles” are constantly changing. Similarly, becoming a coveted item doesn’t just depend on changes in taste over time—it also results from the trends between different locations.

“Everything is a collectible,” Bohn said. “But one hot item in the Chicago market could be completely off the radar for buyers in the Minneapolis market.”

So what are the top-sellers these days in the Chippewa Valley? According to Bohn, customers are gravitating towards old-fashioned wood. From vintage ladders to six-pane windows, wooden items have reached peak popularity. Apart from that, Leinenkugel and Walter’s brand items maintain their reputation as longtime favorites and highly-desired collectibles among Wisconsin antiquers.

Despite these trends, the future of antiques holds its fair amount of uncertainty. In fact, according to Bohn, the younger generations aren’t collecting things anymore.

“Younger people don’t want old things,” Bohn said. “They want modern things, so a lot of antiques end up getting thrown away.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that collectibles will go extinct, however. Certain items, such as record players, are making a huge comeback. Young homeowners are also flocking to antique shops for finds they can repurpose into unique décor.

“Many of these people tell me they found an idea on Pinterest,” said Bohn, who, ironically, admitted to never having visited the picture-based social media site. “Someone even came in looking for a cultivator to turn into a wall decoration.”

Whether an antique holds great monetary worth or not, there’s no denying its value in the history it holds and the memories it carries from one pair of owners’ hands to the next. Bohn, of course, couldn’t agree more. When asked what he believed has been the most rewarding aspect of running The Shed, he responded with no hesitation.

“The people,” Bohn said. “Meeting the people and hearing their stories.”

Because without stories, there could hardly be antiques.

← Back to portfolio