At Home With Antiques is closing, with a liquidation sale that will continue through the end of the month and prices increasingly lowering. The sale has so far attracted a variety of customers to 7516 Madison St., many of whom are longtime antique dealers that say there’s been a decline in antiquing due to millennial disinterest in the practice.
According to the shop’s original owner, Heather Steger, who owned then-Grapevine Antiques with her husband Gary from 1990 to 2008 and who is overseeing the liquidation, all unsold items will be sold to a “clean out person,” who will likely resell the items.
Heather Steger said millennials are not currently interested in antique shopping but feels hopeful for the future. She declined to comment on why At Home With Antiques was closing.
“Antique sellers can’t figure out what young people want,” she said.
Customer and longtime antique seller John Havlicek said he was drawn to the practice as a way to make money on his own, as he was working in real estate and as a teacher.
“It’s a hunt. I don’t come in with a plan. I look for whatever strikes my eye,” said Havlicek, who has been dealing antiques part-time for the past 25 years.
“I buy whatever I can find that looks odd and weird,” he said while picking up a small bronze bell, which he identified as a high-quality item, adding it to a large bronze serving platter that he planned to purchase.
He pointed to a Nativity set on top of a shelf. After picking up one of the three wise men, he said, “This is from Italy. You can tell from the quality of it.”
“You learn; keep your eyes and ears open,” he said of how he finds quality items through the mess.
Gary Steger stood with Havlicek and deliberated the true identity of what looked to be a very old, long metal tube perched on a corner wall. The men guessed the object’s identity, starting at vacuum before settling on corn planter from the early 1900s.
Havlicek, who lives in Riverside, sells the objects he finds online, in shows and in stores, often using eBay and Craigslist. He also takes his items to auctions, including to the Toomey and Co. Auctioneers in Oak Park. However, he has recently noticed a decline in the demand for antiques.
“Antiquing isn’t as popular as it was,” he said. “Five to 10 years ago it was popular. But young kids aren’t looking for old-fashioned light fixtures,” he added, pointing to a metal stack.
Heather Steger is not worried about the decline in antique sales.
“[Antiquing] goes in cycles,” she said, explaining how people in the Victorian Era decorated their homes with many objects, as the accumulation of items indicated wealth.
“People were minimalistic in the ’20s, and in the ’40s people were buying again,” she said.
This article has been updated to reflect that only one antique store is closing on Madison Street.