While Lorain Avenue from West 25th Street into the West 40s may be hopping with new and thriving entrepreneurial businesses extending the vibrancy of Ohio City westward, even farther west is a trip back in time in the Lorain Avenue Antiques District, where antiques and vintage goods are the hot commodity.
And though the new school year may be forcing summer to draw to an early close, there’s still time to get out and enjoy the warm weather on Saturday afternoons at Vintage Lorain, a weekly event where the shops along the Antique District open their doors for shoppers, deal seekers, or those looking to simply socialize.
“I'm encouraging everyone to check out all the shopping and food while the weather is so nice for walking and biking,” says Joshua Jones, marketing director for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.
Every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., stores are open for a linear flea market along Lorain Avenue, inviting folks in to explore an exciting, eclectic mix of antiques and vintage goods as well as niche restaurants. And every other Saturday, the Cleveland Bazaar joins the fun by setting up at Market Square Park on West 25th Street (the next time is this Saturday, Aug. 17).
This Saturday, Market Square Park will also be a stop on the Sparx City Hop's Lolly the Trolley tour, where live bands will add further enticement to get out and enjoy the afternoon. Bands include Maura Rogers and the Bellows from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Fresh Produce from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Mike St. Jude & the Valentines from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Jones is well-aware of the popularity of all things vintage today. “Everything old is new again,” he says. “My friends are always looking for authentic experiences, and exploring Lorain Avenue is undeniably Cleveland.”
A total of 42 shops, bars, and restaurants participate each Saturday: 13 antique and vintage stores and 29 food and drink establishments. And some of the shops—like Menyhart Plumbing and Heating Supply—offer hard-to-find parts for those vintage appliances that are as old as the 1928 business itself and which many Cleveland homes still have.
Others, like Fridrich Bicycle, which has been around since the 1890s and is one of the oldest and largest bike shops in the country, specialize in the latest bicycles as well as parts and sales for vintage bikes. A Separate Reality Records, the largest used vinyl record store in the city, has more than 200,000 used records—many of them hard-to-find, rare LPs from the 1960s through the 1990s.
Some shops offer special deals during Vintage Lorain. For instance, Century Antiques is giving 25 percent off everything in the store on Saturdays. Reincarnation Vintage Design recently rebranded and changed its name to RVD Cleveland to reflect store owners Ron and Cyndi Nicolson’s belief that the past can inspire the future with the store’s expansion beyond furniture restoration and antiques into custom furniture design.
Michael Rolf’s Ideas & Design carries a curated selection of antiques, from a 1950s schoolhouse décor to items that provide an industrial-modern look, while Sweet Lorain—named one of America’s top five vintage stores by Details Magazine—carries everything needed for that vintage look at home or out on the town.
“You can get new-to-you decor and clothes in time for fall,” says Jones, adding that the strip is a half-hour walk or a 10-minute bike ride (you can pick up one of the UH Bikes at the 4134 Lorain Ave. bike station, near Platform Beer). Jones also suggests picking up RTA along the way or using the free parking available along Lorain Avenue.
Jones also points out that the historic buildings that house these vintage shops also make great photo opportunities for those looking to add to their Instagram accounts. “Good photo ops are very trendy right now,” he says. “The insides of a lot of these shops are massive, so pictures of people trying on clothes in the historic architecture [are great].”
All that shopping can cause hunger pangs, so don’t forget to stop for a bite or a sip. Many of the food and beverage establishments are offering specials right now, Jones says. For instance, The Plum offers $15 off honey-fried half chickens and beer and champagne specials every Saturday, starting at 4 p.m., while the Water Garden Cafe, which just expanded its vegan menu, offers 10% off any bill paid in cash, and Herb ‘n Twine has rotating $10 homemade sandwich specials. Stir Studio Kitchen will offer a Lox Cooking Class on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 11 a.m.