Meet your merchant: The Vintage Menagerie brings an earlier time back to life
The Vintage Menagerie
152 South Auburn St., Grass Valley
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. (depending on her mood), Wednesday through Sunday
Some things just seem to happen organically, which is how Marcie Beaver got into the business of selling vintage items. It started out as a hobby. After working at her husband’s law firm during the week, she’d spend weekends driving out to estate and garage sales, or searching the internet for colorful, well-made, time-tested and aesthetically pleasing blasts from the past.
But when she began the massive undertaking of remodeling their house, it was clear Beaver’s collection had outgrown her home. Eager to make space, she began giving things away.
“Then a friend suggested I open a vintage business,” said Beaver. “I had never worked in retail before but I was open to the idea.”
In 2010, Beaver rented a small space in a larger antique store. She loved it.
“Collecting and organizing is a lot of work — you have to love it,” she said. “Fortunately this has been my passion for many years.”
In 2013, Beaver finally opened her own shop, “The Vintage Menagerie,” now located on South Auburn Street in Grass Valley. The store is in a fitting location — a former 1930s motor court, and Beaver’s store was once the lobby with an adjoining apartment for the owner, complete with a double fireplace.
In today’s throw-away society, Beaver said she loves how even the most utilitarian items were often extremely well made in years past, even down to the smallest detail. Look closely at the items in her store, such as the stitch work in a 1940s dress, the Art Deco hardware on a 1920s kerosene Frigidaire or the smooth lines of a sturdy 1923 German enamel bread box.
The scuffs, chips and rust that often accompany items loved over time hold a certain charm for Beaver, but she has also unearthed some remarkable older treasures that are virtually like new. A 1940s electric Westinghouse roaster sits by the front window, with the instructions and accompanying cook book still in their wrappers. A 1960s salon-style hair dryer sits near the store’s “boudoir” section, a hard-to-find item that is likely to be snatched up soon. But despite Beaver’s love of things from an earlier time, she also has a knack for finding new items with a vintage flair, but you won’t find many — she’s very discriminating.
“My store is set up like a house — I have a vintage farm house kitchen area, a bedroom section and a little in between,” she said. “I wanted this store to feel like a house. Sometimes I feel like I’m going home, even though I’m coming to work.”
For “do-it-yourselfers,” the shop features an 84-color selection of chalk-style paints by Old Town Paints, a company based in Jackson, Calif. In her spare time, Beaver enjoys restoring old furniture, making often-mundane pieces from the past “pop” with trending colors.
“I only buy things I love — that way if I get stuck with it I eventually get to take it home,” said Beaver, with a laugh. “But the best part of owning this shop has been getting to know my customers — I’ve made some lifelong friends.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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