A Good Day at the Mall: Midcentury Modern Finds!

There’s a mall in nearby Washington, PA that came *this* close to dying one of those horrible, slow mall deaths, until it was remodeled about ten years ago. (Not like this mall, which has somehow been on life support for 20 years; someone put it out of its misery.) And then an outlet mall opened ten minutes away, and it’s on a slow decline again. On the upside, it still has an Auntie Anne’s Pretzel and a movie theater. And also one of those antique kiosk places that makes my life spectacular some days.

We were pretty close to heading out when my mom suggested stopping in. At the first kiosk, I found not one, not two, but three amazing Fisher-Price toys in fair to good condition. After weighing the benefits, I decided to get the dollhouse and the camper, and left the parking garage for another day. Price? $30 and $23, respectively. What really sold me were the accessories: three grills in the camper (now that’s a party) AND the toilet. And also the complete truck/camper/boat, and a ton of people.

Time for a meat dinner, kids!

The dollhouse includes four beds (three twin, one queen), dining room table,  a passel of chairs, lounge chair, the steps with a slightly broken but fixable door, four desks AND the teacher’s desk AND the playground from the school set, and a wonderful mix of both plastic and wooden Little People, including three dogs, two dentists, and their dentist chairs. (My mother suggested perhaps it was a home office.)

Also included: a telephone booth. A TELEPHONE BOOTH. Eliza saw and recognized it immediately for what it was: “Superman!” (The cupboard under the stairs, of course, is where Harry Potter lives. To quote my sister, my daughter is a pop culture savant.)

What's this relic of the past?

So that was what we found at the first kiosk. I found several other treasures, which I wisely passed on, and then came around the last bend and gasped.

“What?” my mom asked. I pointed, agog. She looked into the kiosk. “What?”


I bolted in and nearly kissed the china cabinet, expecting a price tag of $1200, or maybe $750, in which case, I could shrug and admire it and lament the cost of beautiful midcentury–


Two hundred and fifty dollars, American. For this. In perfect condition, complete with a silver set drawer lined in green velvet; the owner clearly never had any children, because there’s no other explanation for its pristine condition.

Behold her and know her as beauty furniturfied.

I couldn’t find any signatures on it (although I did find beautiful dovetailing in the drawers) so I bolted to the front and asked the cashier about its provenance, and if they knew who the designer was. She called its owner and got the scoop: it had been her first wedding gift in the late 1940s. She just got a new cabinet, so she wanted to get rid of the old one.

And she’d give me 20% off.

That was when I suspected I was taking advantage of a slightly senile Nice Old Lady, but hey, it’s her senility, not mine. So I called David, who’s spending the weekend in Michigan, and agreed with me that YESPLEASEANDTHANKYOU. My dad’s picking it up for us next weekend.

Of course, I immediately began searching for it online, and couldn’t find its duplicate. I found a load of other midcentury china cabinets, though, all of which fall into two price ranges: $200 or $2000. So either I got the steal of the midcentury, or I spent just enough for a gorgeous piece of furniture that I can lovingly beat my children for touching.

An excellent day at the mall, folks.



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2 Responses to A Good Day at the Mall: Midcentury Modern Finds!

  1. jennie says:

    This just reinforces my theory that all the good, well priced vintage stuff is in the midwest. Awesome find, congrats. (Can you imagine what that piece would of fetched at Alameda!)

  2. Jody says:

    Another guy we bought from said now’s a great time to buy mid-century in Pittsburgh–all the Nice Old Ladies are either moving into condos or their children are having estate sales. And if they’re anything like my grandmother, they spent a lifetime chasing their children and grandchildren away from it, so it’s in excellent condition!

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