Antiquing in Carlsbad: A changing climate in the Village

Antiquing in Carlsbad: A changing climate in the Village
Lynne Petersen stands in her store, Olde Ivy Antiques, in Carlsbad. Photo by Shana Thompson

CARLSBAD — Sometimes, what’s old isn’t always new again.

Take shopping for antiques in Carlsbad’s Village area, once a popular pastime for collectors, as well as those just passing by on a sunny afternoon.

For years there were numerous antique shops dotting the quaint Village’s streets, but these days there seems to be a new theme of mixing new and old together.

For example, Lynne Petersen, owner of Olde Ivy Antiques at 2928 State St., has been in business for 20 years. Her shop is 2,000 square feet and is an “eclectic mix of old and new” specializing in “vintage finds and seaside style.”

The store features hand-painted furniture, coastal home decor, antiques, rediscovered treasures, books, jewelry and gifts. Additionally, there are 22 individual dealer shops within the store.

Petersen said that since trends in home decor and shopping constantly evolve, her store has opted to do the same.

“Mixing vintage, antique and found objects instantly warms up and adds character to a home,” she said. “Even in a modern decor cycle, which we are in, the addition of these one-of-a-kind pieces elevates the look.”

She said that in 1998, there were many antique shops in Carlsbad Village, known as the “three-block trail of antiques,” but 20 years later, things have changed.

Beach-themed antiques adorn Petersen’s shop, Olde Ivy Antiques. Photo by Shana Thompson

“I was the youngest of the shop owners in town and was finding my place there,” she said. “Most of the shops had been there for years and had their following. Over the years, many of the antique shop owners retired. As the storefronts became available, other types of businesses saw opportunity and moved in. The street began to have a more diverse variety of shops and it brought new visitors to town.”

These include clothing stores, salons and spas, record stores, and coffee shops that have since popped up. Restaurants also started to open, and the Village became a destination for more than just antique shoppers, she said.

Amazing growth

Petersen said just in the last few years, she has seen amazing growth in the Village and is “excited about this progression as I have seen the town become a bustling center and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

Besides new shops and restaurants, the culture in the town has also blossomed, she said. The art scene has grown, with notable galleries and an annual art walk.

“Our New Village Arts theater group is known throughout North County,” she said. “New development is going on in town as well, with new work/live/shop buildings popping up throughout. We continue to host visitors in our timeshares and hotels as in the past, but Carlsbad Village is becoming a destination for locals throughout North San Diego County.”

A change of pace

As for antique shops of yesteryear, Petersen said she has always had her own take on what antiques are and what her shop could be.

“Starting out, I followed a more traditional model for what the customers wanted,” she said. “As I gained experience and confidence, I explored a newer, current twist on vintage. I myself, had mixed antiques with new decor items in my home and I had fun doing the same in my shop. My customers responded, and I found that I was also attracting shoppers who, in the past, did not go to antique shops, because they weren’t “collectors.”

She said the merchandising of decor pieces with the found items brought in new customers and Petersen began to have a following.

“Being near the beach, the coastal vibe was contagious,” she said. “I began to add elements of seaside style to the mix and it was great. I guess you could say I constantly like to add a fresh take to what I am doing. Besides carefully curating my product mix, my 22 in-house dealers offer even more variety.”

More ocean-friendly decor at Olde Ivy Antiques. Photo by Shana Thompson

Speaking of the vendors inside her store, Petersen said that each vendor has their own style and look … some repurposing vintage items, others specializing in high quality antiques and jewelry, wonderful old books or retro vinyl records.

“With so many regular, local customers over the years, I strive to offer something new for them to discover,” she said. “In addition, the annual visitors always let me know that they are back to see what we have. People often say they ‘always find something in Olde Ivy!’”

Overall, Petersen said that she believes customers are rediscovering vintage in a new way “and I think it is here to stay.”

“With a conscious awareness and goal to reduce, reuse, recycle … retro and vintage are not just buzzwords,” she said. “People are realizing the style and quality of things made decades ago … many handcrafted and made in the USA. They are seeking out things not made outside the country and mass produced.”

As for the new shops that she is seeing pop up, many have vintage and owners are incorporating the old with the new as she has done.

“On a national level, one can see this trend taking effect as more and more HGTV shows feature the uniqueness of vintage items in our homes,” she said.

So how many of the older style antique shops still exist in the Village? Hard to say. According to Christie Marcella, the city’s economic development manager, there are three licensed antique shops (including the antique mall) in the city all located in Carlsbad Village. However, there is no total number of how many antique shops exist and are doing business in Carlsbad.

A change in the air

There is a definite change in the air though and many are excited by it.

Program Manager Christine Davis, of the Carlsbad Village Association, seems to agree with Petersen that there’s a new take on vintage and antique shops.

“While some stores are still showcasing antiques, boho chic and repurposed antiques are finding their way into homes and offices a little more readily these days than before,” she said. “While Carlsbad used to be known for its abundance of antique shops it is now known for having a more eclectic and versatile offering; whether old or new, there is truly something here for everyone.”

But for diehards looking for antique shops of earlier days, Davis said, “there are still individual booths at the Carlsbad Village Art & Antique Mall on State and Trove Marketplace has a few as well so there are still a handful of proprietors and then some.”

The city of Carlsbad also weighed in on the changing climate of antique shops of days gone by and what it currently happening in the area.

Jadon Haber, assistant to the city manager said: “The City Council’s goal is to enhance the health and vitality of the Village, so it can continue to thrive long into the future. Fostering a mix of businesses, old and new, is one way we can hold onto the small-town charm people love while still letting the Village evolve and adapt with the times.”

Still going strong

Bill Ostrie, longtime co-owner of the Carlsbad Village Art & Antique Mall at 2752 State St., who owns the shop with wife Evo, said in the years he’s been doing business he’s witnessed five shops close that sold antiques.

At his place they continue to sell a wide variety of antiques, collectibles, jewelry, furniture, decor, art, surfboards and clothing etc. and have been since 1999.

When asked why so many antiques have shuttered their shops he said: “Millennials do not seem to have a taste for classic old antiques, thus not as many ‘antique’ shops.”

However, he’s been able to sustain in the city because “our great variety of interesting merchandise allows us to continue to prosper.”

Ostrie said he continues doing business in the city because of: “The friendly family-owned atmosphere and the charm of Carlsbad … and “due to its great variety of shops and restaurants, Carlsbad is a great place to spend the day.”

Perhaps Claudia Huerta, city’s community and economic development village manager, summed it all up best. She said there are still several antique shops, as well as various retailers that offer something for everyone.

“Our Village still has mostly mom-and-pop shops, they are just choosing other products to sell,” she said. “Yes, there is still various antique shops along State Street … Whether shoppers are looking for antique furniture, vintage clothes, or other collectibles, there are a variety shops to peruse through in the Village … they are sure to find a new treasured piece with some history to take home.”

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