Hog Creek Antique Mall has a large col­lection of jadeite and Pyrex, two popular antique finds. Kate Ford | Col­legian.

About eight miles from Hillsdale College, along West Chicago Road, Hog Creek Antique Mall boasts 150 vendor booths selling every­thing from vintage blow dryers to Pyrex (a current favorite among col­lectors) to niche pieces like political buttons and clown dolls.

The mall is one of several store­fronts in a row of antique stores on West Chicago Road, dubbed the “antique capital of Michigan,” which con­tinues to attract cus­tomers, despite occa­sional shifts in the pop­u­larity of par­ticular items.

The average piece at an antique store today is selling at “80 percent off” what it would have during the “heydey of antiques col­lecting,” said Colin Stair, the owner of Stair Gal­leries auction house in Hudson, N.Y., according to The New York Times in March of 2018.  Pieces like “[y]our typical Georgian 18th century fur­niture, chests of drawers, tripod tables, Pem­broke tables,” Stair told the Times, are now selling at a fraction of what they would have 15 to 20 years ago.

Hog Creek Antique Mall Owner Michelle Barrows said she doesn’t believe Michigan antiques have expe­ri­enced a drastic decline in pop­u­larity, though she has noticed a shift in trends.

“The market has changed in terms of what people are buying, and in terms of what I am buying,” Barrows said.

Barrows began antiquing in 2005, and she said she has seen a lot of trends come and go.

“We sell a lot of prim­i­tives and mid-century modern pieces,” said Barrows. “People used to be looking for depression glass, now Pyrex is hot.”

“Prim­itive” fur­niture is a simple early American style of fur­niture and decor, and is

a popular find in antique stores. Barrows said that Hog Creek’s typical cus­tomers are col­lectors, but the mall will attract anyone, as the vendors bring in new pieces every day. These pieces typ­i­cally come from garage and estate sales, which are popular places for most antique dealers.

Just up the road stands Allen Antique Mall, made up of two buildings with a restaurant nestled in between. The two buildings house more than 100 dealers and any­thing from old fishing equipment to Ouija boards.

Vendors Phil and Paula Pursell assist the manager with day-to-day tasks while stocking their own booths. Phil Pursell said that while he couldn’t point to one most popular item, he has often noticed a “theme of the day” in what he sells.

“Last week we sold 10 horse statues, all to dif­ferent people,” he said.

While Pursell said he noticed a downward trend in the antique market over the past 10 years, he said it’s picked up steam in the last couple of years, along with the general incline of the national economy.

On the other side of Allen Antique Mall, Dawn Essen­macher, a fellow vendor and employee of Allen Antique Mall, has a dif­ferent opinion on the health of the antiquing business.

“This year, it’s a little on the low,” said Essen­macher. “Peoples’ tastes have changed.”

Nev­er­theless, she empha­sized her love for buying and selling vintage items, as did several other vendors.

“You can buy it, enjoy it for a while, and then sell it,” fellow vendor Lisa Baker said.

The Pursells explain that, for them, antiquing isn’t all about the money.

“We don’t make a living from it,” Phil Pursell explains. “We might make six or seven hundred dollars a month, which is enough to pay your rent.”

He notes that antiquing “gets people out, gives them some­thing to do.”

“Antiquing is like a family thing,” he said. “It’s more than the things you find; it’s the people you meet.”