Vintage Voyagers: A Trip Through Randolph Street Market

BY NICOLE ROSS

Antiques via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Antiques via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Antique Ferris Wheel via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Antique Ferris Wheel via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

If the word “antique” makes you think of your grandmother’s dusty attic (as I once did), it’s time to think again. At Randolph Street Market, the antique show in the West Loop, I was surprised to find more than old match box cars, brooches and portraits of strangers. After hours of treasure hunting, I might even consider my shopping companion and I converted “antique-rs.”

Currently celebrating its 15th year of operation, Randolph Street Market takes place at Plumbers Hall (1340 W Washington Blvd.) one weekend each month. The indoor market attracts over 7,000 style-seekers and 124 vendors each two-day period. However, during the summer season (May through October), the festival expands outdoors, drawing closer to 15,000 visitors and more than 300 vendors. (The best part about going this time of the year? Free parking!)

Vintage Purse via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Vintage Purse via Arlene Eskilson (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Built with the concept of a European-style marketplace in mind, the festival hosts antiques, retro and vintage furniture, Indie fashion and jewelry, vinyl, collectibles, fancy foods and more. “Our show is vetted to ensure the quality of the companies and the products that fit our business model,” said one of the market’s coordinators, Paula Guiliano. “We look for classic and traditional products that we know people love and unique, interesting and innovative items we want to showcase to our audience.”

My friend and I knew right away that we were in for a treat when we came across Arlene Eskilson’s vintage box bags. “I’ve been collecting them for some time now,” said Eskilson, who has been a vendor at the market for three years now. “My great aunt was an antique dealer, so I’ve always been around it.” Eskilson said she travels the country looking for her treasures, finding most of them at estate sales and auctions.

Vintage Necklace via NOV (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Vintage Necklace via NOV (Photo by Nicole Ross)

Another first-floor goodie was Chicago-born company Adorn Candles, selling hand-crafted essential oils, wooden wicks and candles made from locally sourced beeswax and sustainable orange and coconut waxes. The French Vanilla scent made us hungry, so to the eats we went.

To neither of our surprise, my friend and I favored a particular food vendor, Dinky Delights, serving hot, sugary mini donuts. (I think the bit-size factor made us feel less guilty for eating, say, four or five of the little guys. Each.) Anyway, we were too full by the time we got to Taco In A Bag or Bacci Pizza, though the aromas were spectacular.

Onward.

Perhaps our most cherished find, NOV (short for “new vintage”) showcased a variety of 60s and 70s dresses, necklaces, bags and vintage t-shirts. “I look for unique pieces that can still be stylish today and make them affordable,” said Founder Adrienne Baskin. “I want people to have fun with it.”

The majority of NOV’s pieces are priced under $150 — notables including a golden yellow column dress ($75), pearl-beaded top ($125) and 80s Bruce Springsteen t-shirt ($125). (Baskin notes that the t-shirts are on the more expensive side due to their high demand.)

60s Beaded Top via NOV (Photo by Nicole Ross)

60s Beaded Top via NOV (Photo by Nicole Ross)

“They don’t make these kinds of clothes anymore,” said Baskin. “You never have to worry about them going out of season.”

She had us convinced. After trying on several of the pieces, we left carrying goodies in our arms (and grins on our faces).