ADAMSTOWN, Pa. – The little town at Exit 286 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike [I-76] might not even be noticed as a wide spot in the road except that today there are now more antiques shops than a casual visitor could count. Adamstown calls itself Antiques Capital, with 21 shops in their group brochure, and there are many additional shops not on the list. The shops are open varying hours and they have different days off, but come to town on a Saturday and Sunday and you will not be able to cover all there is to see.
Most of the 20-plus shops are multi-dealer stores, big spaces loaded with booths and showcases loaded with antiques – the really great early things with very strong emphasis on Central Pennsylvania antiques. On a recent weekend, this happy traveler greeted friends from Long Island, about 250 who were there for the weekend. When asked about their travel plans, the New Yorker said, “We have a show next weekend, and frankly, we were out of fresh smalls so we decided to come down to stock up.” That is what Adamstown is all about: It’s the place dealers and collectors search for a weekend to find fresh additions to their collections and inventories.
For just some of the highlights of what there is on Pennsylvania Route 272, when exiting the Turnpike, one of the first stops is a group shop called Pine Hills Antiques Mall open Thursday through Monday. This shop has a collection of showcases filled with small early kitchen/dining room antiques and booth spaces with furniture. There were a number of the exhibiting dealers in their spaces ready to assist with keys for the showcases and more information about the offerings.
Tex Johnson’s Antiques was the next stop. Tex opened her shop in 1960 and has kept it going since, now with the assistance of son Chris. Chris does some shows but not too far away. Tex brags about her age (over 90) and her husband is nearing a century, so travel has to be limited. Their shop has antiques from Central Pennsylvania of the finest quality, she believes, for she “began collecting long before I was selling, back when the best things were still ‘buyable.’ ”
Continue down the road a short distance for Adamstown Antique Mall, open Thursday through Monday. Again a multi-dealer facility, it is showcases and booths with more Pennsylvania and other venue antiques. Walk across the street to General Heath’s Antiques – closed only on Tuesday – for fine collections of earthenware. Don’t move the car yet, as you can also hit Heritage Antique Center, which is open every day. Drive a short distance for the antiques and collectibles at Time Matters Antique Mall, also open seven days a week.
Adamstown Antiques Gallery is among the largest on the street, stretching deep into the building with antiques and collectibles, with an emphasis on smalls.
Two of the biggest of all the venues are open only Sunday – Renningers and Stoudt’s Black Angus. Here the spaces are all manned by the exhibiting dealers, in essence creating two very large shows each and every Sunday with excellent participation from the customers. Many of these dealers live in the area or at least reasonably close, and some do shows outside the area. When they are away, most make arrangements for coverage of their space in either of these two sites.
In the spring and summer, both of these facilities more than double their offerings with exhibitors in the outside areas, with some under roofed exhibits. These dealers are not permanent as are most inside exhibitors, but there is still a great variety and selection for the shoppers.
Typically, shoppers plan a two-day minimum stay here and even with that they have to move quickly. Saturday would be the shops and Sunday is a must for Renningers and Black Angus. In the spring and fall, Shupps Grove is open on Saturday and Sunday, all outdoors.
There are also extravaganza weekends three times each year with the last extravaganza of the 2012 season scheduled for Sept. 27-30. A website is available for more information: www.antiquescapital.com.
Finally, at the south end of this strip are several motels including Comfort Inn, Red Roof and Econolodge with reasonable rates and clean sheets. The website has more hotel/motel information, but probably only by paying to be included, as the chain motels are not listed. If travelling to the area, be aware that while the shops are all listed as Adamstown many of the services are in Denver and Ephrata.
From New York City, Adamstown is about three hours, and from Iowa a lot more, but you can find shoppers from both there, as “the pickin’s are real good” and it is great fun.
Antique Extravaganzas are held three times a year – April, June and September – along seven miles of Route 272 in Northern Lancaster County. Although most shops and markets are open year-round, during the extravaganza, shops offer more dealers, longer shop hours and more bargains, as well as outdoor markets. Sales are also held at local restaurants and in specialty shops in the area.
Next Extravaganza: Sept. 27-30, 2012