By Dylan Aycock, MTSU Sidelines Staff Writer
Opening the door and looking inside, the sight of vintage hats, old-fashioned cameras and polished typewriters are reminiscent of a familiar place. The sound of creaking, wooden floors and a rustic aroma are soon replaced with friendly laughter and welcoming voices. After a few nostalgic moments, it becomes clear this isn’t grandmother’s attic, it’s Antique Center I & II.
The two-building antique mall on South Church Street, owned and operated by Cindy and Brant Voss, has provided the Murfreesboro area with true antiques and vintage pieces for the past 22 years.
“We’re trying to stay true to the antique mall and not sell reproductions,” Cindy said. “We try to keep our store neat and clean, and we have a friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff who all really care about antiques.”
More than 75 dealers occupy the Antique Center and many have been with the store since its opening in 1992. Most dealers reside in the Middle Tennessee area, although a few live across the country in locations such as New Jersey, Florida and Iowa. While many people prefer to shop for antiques online through sites like antiques world, the Antique Center is still a popular venue for people of all ages looking for quality furniture.
New owners, familiar faces
Though the couple has not owned the antique mall for long, Cindy is no stranger to the historic wonders of these buildings.
“I worked here while [attending] college at MTSU,” Cindy explained. “After my husband and I moved back from California, I started working here full time.”
Her parent’s owned the Antique Center since its opening, and after talks of retirement, Cindy and her husband decided to keep the business within the family. She said there is never a dull moment at the antique mall, and that she learns something new everyday.
The two buildings are filled with an array of items dating as far back as the 1800s; however, Cindy said if customers can’t find something particular among the booths, all they need to do is ask.
“We do our best to try to help customers,” she said. “If we don’t have it, we try to send our dealers out to see if we can find it for them. So we try to be as helpful as we can.”
An assortment of antiques
Many booths offer customers a variety of antiques, while other vendors hold to a specific theme or decade.
The familiar sound of Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” attracts customers to the far right corner of the store. As they enter the booth, the world around them fades into the 1930s. The walls are lined with army jackets, flags and military hats. Across the room, an old radio sits by a mound of baseball gear. With an open mind and willing imagination, customers can almost hear a sports announcer’s voice from the past traveling through the speakers.
After stepping back into reality, customers walk past display cases filled with beautiful French and Belgian glassware before approaching a cluster of bookshelves on the left side of the store. Literary works of all varieties line the towering shelves. Whether customers have a taste for vintage cookbooks, classic anthologies or novels about heroism and adventure, a book is there for everyone. This booth is sure to attract customers who are unable to resist the curiosity of an antique, leather-bound book.
For those who are less interested in Army collectables or the complete works of Shakespeare, music enthusiasts can find beautiful instruments and boxes of vinyl records in several booths. Record collectors know the importance of looking through each box, careful not to overlook any must-have albums. Popular artists among the Antique Center include Hank Williams Jr., Dolly Parton and the early gospel sounds of Elvis Presley.
Younger crowd seeks affordable antiques
As students make the transition from on-campus housing to living on their own, the high cost of new furniture isn’t an option for those on a budget. Lately, students have been shopping in Antique Center for well-made furniture with an affordable price tag.
“I think the first thing out of their mouth when they walk in is that it doesn’t smell like grandma’s closet,” she said. Instead, students are shocked to discover the great conditions of the items.
It’s easy to spend hours searching through the antiques and collectables, and sometimes it requires a keen eye and patience to find what’s being looked for. Even if one has no specific item in mind, it’s almost impossible to walk out of Antique Center empty handed. Whether buying a piece of furniture for a new apartment or finding an item that reminiscent of the past, something pleases everyone.
“We have stuff for the guys, stuff for the younger girls, stuff for the older girls,” Cindy said with a smile. “There’s just a lot of neat stuff out here that’s worth taking a look to see what you might be missing out on.”
While most antique stores in the area are closed on Sundays, Antique Center I & II is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“We enjoy what we do, and hope it comes across,” Cindy said. “And we hope to be here another 22 years.”
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