What do you get when you mix one part collector, one part “tosser”, and a few twists of fate? A recipe for success in the Vintage Mercantile and Auction antique shop! Located on North Market Street among a strip of antique shops, Vintage Mercantile and Auction is a perfect fit in the historical Hillyard district of Spokane. True to its name, this mercantile really does have a little bit of everything vintage!
When I first walked in the doors of Vintage and Mercantile and Auction, the first thing I noticed was one of those old-fashioned spring-bouncy-rocking horses that I had so cherished as a child. It turns out, that’s literally what’s so special about John and Melissa Niece’s shop, and it’s why they find their work satisfying: They get to reconnect customers with their memories every day. In fact, nostalgia for cherished memories is what brings customers into their shop. From Baby Boomers who want something from their youth, to younger shoppers who remember some long-lost item from Grandma’s house, there’s something for everyone. The common factor is the sentimental value an item holds, which far outweighs its ticket price.
In fact, ticket price is another thing that makes Vintage Mercantile and Auction special. The Nieces provide a niche market to re-sellers of antique and collectable items. They give re-sellers a good deal with reasonable prices to help them with their business. That means the average collector who walks in the door also gets a fabulous deal!
And helping others is a prominent theme for these business owners. In addition to the Vintage Mercantile and Auction shop, John and Melissa provide plenty of other services to the community. They purchase estates from people who want to avoid the work of an estate sale. With the means to load up everything and take it all away, including the garbage, they’re solving what would otherwise be an overwhelming problem. In fact, when asked what’s difficult about the vintage mercantile business, Melissa laughs good-naturedly and admits, “We’re basically a moving company!”
More importantly, John and Melissa provide a venue for items to be loved and cherished once again. While John loves the collecting aspect, Melissa takes joy in finding new “forever homes” for items. If you have items of value that you’re ready to let go and allow another to enjoy its nostalgia, bring it to John and Melissa and let them take a look at it. While they have become knowledgeable about the value of various antiques, John also has mad skills in researching to find an item’s worth.
While he uses plenty of online sites in his research, one of John’s favorite ways to research the value of an item is by consulting an expert in the antique collection community.
“It’s kind of like on that History Channel show, “Pawn Stars” when they bring in experts to determine the authenticity of items,” John explains.
It’s clear that relationships and connections are another big theme in the Niece’s business success. In fact, it was community connections, along with a passion for auctions, that introduced John and Melissa to the site of their shop. Building. They had attended auctions at this very building when it was called Dogtown Auction Company under previous owners. Here’s where the twist of fate comes into the mix. The Nieces were initially denied their request to take over the site. It wasn’t for sale at the time. Coincidentally, some time later, their son learned that the building owners were not renewing their lease.
This was it! John and Melissa now had the opportunity to unload their trailer they used to haul their stuff to sale at various venues. They were taking their show off the road.
Speaking of taking their show off the road, when the pandemic required businesses to shut down temporarily, John and Melissa moved their auctions online. Using the hibid.com website, they were able to reach over a hundred bidders, a lot more than the twenty to twenty-five folks who came to their live auctions. While they were able to open up shop again to customers in May, they continue to hold weekly auctions online at hibid.com.
While Vintage Mercantile and Auction is one of several antique shops on North Market, the Nieces have nothing but the kindest of words about their fellow shop owners. You get the sense of a real community in Market Street shops. They Nieces tell me that all of the shop owners were welcoming to them. “We’re all friends. We support each other’s businesses,” says Melissa.
Browsing around the shop my eyes were dazzled by the variety of items on display. I could have spent hours looking. But don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself! If you’re a history buff, make a day of it! With the Hillyard Museum less than a block away, one can indulge in their love of all things old all in one stop. Be sure to plan to spend plenty of time in Vintage Mercantile and Auctions. There’s a ton of stuff to see. And you don’t have to worry about your blood sugar or tired feet. They provide fresh popcorn for a snack, and a sitting area to take a load off. Browse around, take a break and enjoy the classic rock and roll always playing in the background while giving a scratch behind the ears to sweet Shela, the “guard” dog.
As Melissa says, “We like to provide little things that add to the adventure.” And what an adventure it is!