Sussex antiques shops becoming a thing of the past

April 22, 2014
Fred Nielsen, of Harbeson, is an historian, author and antiques appraiser.

I was saddened a few weeks ago to learn of the passing of Ruth Mervine of Greenwood. This got me thinking about the antiques shops that will no longer exist.

I knew Mrs. Mervine because every Saturday night I used to see her up at Wilson’s Auction in Lincoln. She was a fixture in the front row and would select a few items for her shop. I still have a cranberry ribbed glass lampshade I got from her about 15 years ago. Come to think about it, her antiques shop and many others have closed over the years; many if not all of them I was in. Sussex County and the surrounding area have lost over 20 shops, and that I can attest to.

When I first came to Lewes 20 years ago, there was an Open and Shut business in an old Victorian house on Savannah Road. They went out of business and the house was bulldozed along with the outbuildings (which gave me ajada [bellyache]). Did we need another pharmacy to replace a great Victorian home? I would think not.

Who can forget the green dinosaur called the Affordable Antique Mall on Route One, northbound in Rehoboth, that is also a pharmacy. Going down into Lewes there was a quaint shop in Hotel Rodney on Second Street that was called the Antique Corner. They closed about 10 years ago. I still have three cranberry Jack in the Pulpit vases, purchased November 2000. Then there was another shop on the left side in the Masonic Building, also gone. Good thing we still have Auntie M. and Lewes Mercantile Antique Gallery or antiquing in town would be a thing of the past.

When traveling out of Lewes on Kings Highway, the first gray house across from the Zwaanendael Museum was a great shop that has also been closed for eight or nine years.

There were three shops on one site on Route One, northbound over the Nassau Bridge called Antique Village. You could spend all day roaming through those shops. I have many, many items in my home that were purchased there in 2002, 2003 and 2004. They closed their doors in 2005 and now house medical buildings.

I am especially sad to see what is happening in Milton. What is now Irish Eyes was a great two-story antique shop. I purchase an etched glass scene door there in 2007. My good friend Don Post closed his shop at the end of the year. The shop on Union Street that Matt and his mother had closed due to high rent and loss of lease, because of new restaurants coming. So, now in Milton one great little shop remains, A Walk Thru Time. One wonders how long they will remain?

Going out west on Route 9 toward Harbeson, Miss Pam had a shop in the Cool Springs area, now gone. Mike McShane had a very nice set of shops on Route One, which are now B&B Music. I purchased a six-drawer East Lake pine bureau with great owl pulls, refurbished it and gave it to my wife in 1999. He had great stuff, all now gone from that location. Fortunately, he is still up in Nassau. There were two more shops in the Rehoboth area, now gone - one is now the Fractured Prune, and the other on Rehoboth Avenue on the right, headed out of town. I forget the name.

Heading down to Fenwick Island on the left just before turning out onto Route 54, the shop’s name was the Antique Station. Who could forget the Seaport Village Antique Shop? That was my personal favorite over the years. It closed back in 2004. It was Abizak and now something else.

In Laurel, Shirley O’Neal is closing. Half of her store is now closed, and will be closed by April 15. She had lots and lots of good antiques. I will miss her, also. In Laurel, who could forget the Laurel Trading Post, and Snickie Davis. We have a love seat in our den, purchased in 2001, that my wife loves to sit on and watch TV with the dogs. Charm of Yesteryear in Roxanna closed. Jack did wonderful upholstery work, including a Civil War settee done for me in 2009. I miss Linden Hall Antiques in Bridgeville very much. I have a fall front secretary desk from them. The building sat empty for years, and is now a veterinary office.

Going over to Seaford, many times I enjoyed the Seaford Country Store, which was an antique mall on W. Stein Highway. That was a great place to poke around to find some treasures you could not live without. From there I would head up to Harrington to downtown. That shop has been closed for about two years now.

Here’s hoping that Mr. Burt at Practically Yours on Route 9 and Ms. Hudson at Heritage Antique Market will be open for many years to come.

After all these years, I would still like to go antiquing. But, with the dwindling amount of antique shops, one only wonders.

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