Looking for the North Lawrence vintage home decor shops? You can’t miss them.
Past the muffler shop, through the billowing dust cloud by the grain elevator, parallel to the whistling train rumbling by on the tracks, the cluster of picture-perfect shops with elegant signs and windows full of pretties sticks out like a sore thumb — or more like a shiny jewel.
“It’s kind of like an adventure,” said Amy Ballinger, owner of Amy’s Attic Interiors and Antiques, 700 Locust St. “I think people feel like they’ve found a diamond in the rough.”
The corner of Seventh and Locust streets is gaining an identity as a destination neighborhood for antiques and home decor. There are now five stores in the historic downtown area of North Lawrence, plus a handful of residents in surrounding blocks who routinely open their garages for unofficial sales.
Most stores are open Friday and Saturday only, which helps business owners who have other jobs and also adds to the sense of excitement shoppers feel from making the trip over the river, Ballinger said.
The long, stone building Amy’s Attic splits with another store, French Accent, was once a gas station, then a laundromat and most recently a machine shop.
Ballinger said she was attracted to the building’s plentiful space and cheap rent when she opened Amy’s Attic Used Home Furnishings and More there in 1998.
Back then, she said, she had a lot more of the “more.” She’s since renamed the business and polished and refined her selections — which range from stately antique hutches to new housewares — and takes more of an interior design rather than a flea market approach.
Other businesses that have since opened on the industrial-flavored corner also have a mix of old and new, yet, like Amy’s Attic, carefully selected and artfully staged for shoppers.
The newest shop, Tooter and Tillaye’s Homegoods, 644 Locust St., opened in October. It’s located between My Father’s Daughter, 646 Locust St., and Eagles’ Rest Natural Mattresses and Furniture, 642 Locust St.
Dana Niemack named her store after her grandmother, nicknamed “Tooter,” and her great-grandmother, who went by Tillaye because she didn’t like her given name, Matilda. In addition to antiques and home furnishings, Niemack, who also practices feng shui, sells some garden sculptures and crystals.
Niemack — who also happens to love trains — said she loves the quiet, laid back section of town with its friendly residents and ease of parking.
“I think it’s a perfect fit for what Lawrence needs,” she said of the neighborhood. “We have other antiques, but this is a destination.”
After years of operating downtown, Angie Conrad moved My Father’s Daughter to North Lawrence about six years ago.
“I watched as that building was being rehabbed,” she said.
When the corner spot became available, Conrad said, she was the first shop on that side of the street. Her collection of vintage wedding gowns and dresses, linens, china and furniture fits perfectly in the light-filled, high-ceilinged storefront.
Store owners have collaborated on a vintage home decor brochure, which include a map of their shops and some of the home-based sellers nearby. The brochure also has a section for antiques and houseware shops across the river in the main part of Lawrence.
Store owners’ latest venture to help build buzz and extend hours for shoppers who can’t make it on weekends is Nola Nights. The cluster of shops has open houses from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month.
“To have more than one antique shop is always a lure for people,” Conrad said. “And the more little businesses we get out there growing, the better.”