Memorial Day weekend antiques in the Midwest

While some Midwesterners trekked to cottages, the beach, and other recreational areas for the Memorial Day weekend, thousands mixed with more than 400 dealers at the Allegan Antique Market on Sunday, May 28, for a day of browsing and shopping.

“We can cook out or go to the beach anytime,” said one visitor, adding, “In fact, that’s the plan after we spend the day here on the fairgrounds and hopefully find some goodies.”

It was the first time at Allegan for dealer Mike Cohen, who traveled more than 400 miles from Brooksville, Ky. He called Allegan “a real nice show.” Many people stopped at his booth to admire his 1880s, 48-inch-tall, curved-glass-front, oak cane holder, all original and priced at $1,950. At the same spot, a turn-of-the-century oak sideboard with original finish and claw feet carried a price tag of $900.

It was an even longer drive for another Allegan first-timer, Gregory deRedonGross of Cedar Branch Antiques in Limestone, Tenn. Shoppers stopped to gawk at both his booth of collectibles and the dealer’s white beard, which fell midway down his chest. A display of contemporary and traditional cowboy boots made from snakeskin and armadillo were priced from $25 to $60 per pair. He also showed a 16-piece, 4-1/4-inch, nickel-plated brass tool set for $145. How did he find out about the Allegan Antique Market? “Just word of mouth from other dealers,” he said, adding, “I like the setting.”

Ten-year Allegan veteran Marsha Albrecht from Mason, Mich., made wicker collectors happy with two different pieces at the holiday weekend show. An eight-sided 9-by-11-inch wicker sewing basket, circa 1920s, with original colors and tufted satin interior, could have been taken home for $34. Others admired her 27-inch-tall, three-sided 1940s wicker corner plant stand with original liner for $58.

“If you have the wheel, it’s a grand buy,” said dealer Charles Pliska, pointing to a turn-of-the-century wire doll buggy in excellent original condition but missing one wheel, priced at $75. Pliska and his wife Mary, from Pinconning, Mich., also showed off a working 16-inch-long tin coin-operated countertop hotel radio priced at $125.

Serious coin-op machine collectors crowded into the booth of Randy and Sue Razoog, who brought a booth full of restored machines from Grand Rapids, Mich. They included a 1930s Gum-A-Mib countertop marble shooting game at $895 and a deco-style Ehl 4-in-1 Vendor that offered four different treats for just one penny a serving. The couple’s 8-year-old daughter Hayley helped at the booth, prompting Razoog to say, “Oh, yah, she gets into this stuff, too.”

“I wouldn’t be afraid to shoot it,” said dealer Thomas Stoliecki as he picked up an 1870s English Perkins double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun. The vintage firearm was said to be all original and could have been displayed, or shot, for $350. At the same spot, an 1850s powder horn and leather shooting bag could have been taken home for $135. About 500 other pieces, priced from $5 to $500, were brought to the show from the dealer’s home in Manistee, Mich.

As is usually the case, old-time tunes in the form of music boxes and vintage record players could be heard at the booth of Lon Maas of Spring Lake, Mich. Many people stopped to admire and listen to an 1880 Symphonium mahogany music box, complete with 20 discs, offered at $2,200. Two record players, complete and playing, were a 1905 mahogany Victor IV for $1,400 and a 1905 oak Victor M for $1,300.

Maas, a long-time Allegan dealer, smiled as he said he was just “days away from retiring on June 1 after 28.9 years at General Motors.” The dealer said he had been “carting antiques to shows for many years” and will continue, adding, “Now that I’m retiring, I’m also starting an antiques delivery service that will serve the entire United States.”

A pair of advertising signs called “real show stoppers” by one shopper changed hands quickly at Allegan. They were offered by Dan Holmes of nearby Plainwell and featured wild animals in full color action advertising a St. Louis fur buying house. Each measured 13 by 19 inches and showed only minor wear. One print featured a fierce fight between a beaver and an otter, with a snarling bobcat looking on. The second featured a snowcapped northern scene showing an early hunter with sled dogs fending off a snarling polar bear.

The May event was the second show of the season at the fairgrounds, and as one shopper said, “This time the weather cooperated.” The season opener in April found the fairgrounds soaked with rain, but the Memorial Day event featured sunny skies and temperatures topping 80 degrees.

Show promoter Larry Wood said he was happy with the shopping crowd and “sold-out dealer count with 403 spaces,” adding, “Rain will reduce the gate count by about 30 percent, but the serious buyers come no matter what.”

Wood said the fairgrounds show normally is sold out when the gates open, but added, “There are usually a handful of spots available” before show dates when booths open up because of previous dealer commitments.

The promoter said many people took advantage of a new service at the popular show: two golf carts that transport larger items to shoppers’ vehicles at no charge. The new service even spawned a slogan: “Too heavy, too far, we’ll take it to your car.”

The Allegan Antiques Market is held the last weekend of the month, during warm weather, at the fairgrounds in Allegan, Mich., a 20-minute drive from Grand Rapids. For more information, call (616) 735-3333 or visit