Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By McKayla Braid
Angie Elzy-Carroll loves rummaging through dumps and garages for antiques.
“I call myself one of the original pickers because I used to go digging through garages and old dump sites where they threw away old bottles,” Elzy-Carroll said.
Elzy-Carroll stands beside a hand-painted yellow wooden cash register. To her right is a Victorian pump organ she acquired from a women who had to downsize. To her left is a cabinet housing pieces ranging from driving gloves to crystal cups. In front of her is a crowded table with mismatched chairs. The abundance of antiques has even made their way onto the counter.
“I feel like all these things tell a story,” said Elzy-Carroll, who opened Old Vintage Soul on May 20 at, 1921 Western Ave. in Mattoon, Ill. “I can look at an old piece and imagine how it was used and what kind of people lived with it.”
Not everything in the antique store was found in garages and dumps. Elzy-Carroll goes to estate sales, rummage sales, other antique stores, Craigslist and even Facebook to acquire her merchandise.
“Your home should be something collected over time that you take time to put together rather than going to a furniture store and buying a set,” she said.
A collector since the age of 12, Elzy-Carroll’s store even includes pieces from her home. With her new store, she hopes to educate customers on how they can decorate their homes using antiques and collectibles.
“I’ve hung on to the things that I love and mean a lot to me and I’m trying to pass on my love of the things that I’ve come across to other people,” she said.
However, one piece her customers won’t see for sale in her shop is a cookie jar she has cherished since childhood. And although her great-great grandmother gave her the cookie jar, she developed her love of antiquing on her own.
“As soon as I was on my own, I started decorating with them, then I had an overflow and I started selling them,” she said.
Today, she takes her mother along with her to scout for collectible pieces.
“ I think I got her into antiquing,” said Elzy-Carroll, who runs her store by herself.
But to Elzy-Carroll, antiques and collectibles are not just about decorating, it’s about recycling and preserving space in the local landfill.
“I don’t want anything to get thrown in the landfills. I don’t want anything tossed in the trash. I want people to get a hold of [antiques] and enjoy them and if they can’t, maybe their kids will,” she said.
Her store is experiencing success. She has considered moving into a larger space. However, she wants to keep the business small and stay away from becoming large like a chain store.
“I love hearing [my customer’s] stories. If it was a chain and it got bigger and I wasn’t in here and other people were working for me, I would miss out on that,” Elzy-Carroll said.
Grateful for her success so far, Elzy-Carroll has advice for anyone who is considering opening their own business.
“You may have taxes and bills and take that into consideration, but push it to the back of your mind,” she said. “If your heart tells you to do something just go for it. “