Champagne bubbles, a kiss at midnight and staying awake to see the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square are beloved New Year’s Eve traditions. It’s a night that ushers in a quiet day Jan. 1, when many businesses are closed and people stay home to watch football.
But what about those who find football boring, whose favorite restaurant is closed or who experience cabin fever? Well, many of us have our own New Year’s Day tradition: one of bundling up and waltzing out the door to the annual antiques mall trail along the coast of Lake Michigan.
The 64-mile route is called “the trail.” Stretching from South Haven to Muskegon, the one-of-a-kind, one-day-only event is considered the best day of the year to go antiquing. It started about 20 years ago, according to Cathy Vourlitis, an antiques dealer at West Michigan Antique Mall in Grand Haven.
“It’s an annual event that kind of blossomed from our mall,” Vourlitis said. “We started doing the New Year’s Day sale, then all the other antiques malls along the lakeshore started joining in. People liked it, so we put together this antique trail.”
Shoppers can expect to find mall-wide sales, with varying discounts. Wooden Shoe Antique Mall in Holland offers 20 percent off mall-wide, while dealers at Lake Shore Antiques in West Olive set their own discounts.
“We do anywhere from 15-50 percent off, with some exceptions,” said Kathy Smant, owner of Lake Shore Antiques. “That’s what we do every year, and it just gets packed in here; it’s always a good sale.”
Most participating malls open at 10 a.m. and remain open until 5 or 6 p.m. With so much to see, antique “trailers” often start early. The Grand Haven/West Olive area antique venues offer a varied selection.
Lake Shore Antiques sells truly antique merchandise (pre-1980) with a good selection of vintage and antique clothing, as well as high-end furniture, porcelain and glassware.
West Michigan Antique Mall has a flea market appeal, mixing antiques with vintage pieces and tchotchkes and a large selection of used books.
Depot Antiques is another great stop, filled with rarely-seen, unique items.
Spring Lake Antique Mall carries a variety of everything imaginable, including antique toys and kitchen gadgets.
“Our sales are at least triple on New Year’s Day,” said Gary Mack, whose wife owns Spring Lake Antique Mall. “It’s our busiest day of the year. We have four to five people working at the counter and another four or five working to help people in the mall.”
Written by — Julie Bonner Williams, Michigan BLUE Magazine