by Elena Bittinger | photography by Will Hutchison
’Tis the season!
I know, the words everyone dreads to hear at the end of each year. But alas, the time has come — to loosen those tight purse strings and embrace the daunting chore of gift shopping.
But this year’s shopping doesn’t have to feel like a nightmare. Those ended with Halloween. Now is the time for family traditions, warmth, health and happiness.
You can experience these holiday sentiments by finding that perfect gift for that special someone. You don’t have to buy the most expensive, flashy bauble or trinket or the newest electronics you can find, either. Sometimes all it takes is finding something that is uniquely suited for them in the most unlikely places that make the season worthwhile.
Those unlikely places are out-of-the-way independent antique shops.
Perfect for Gift Shopping
Antique shops are filled with authenticity, memories and opportunity. If you want a real connection with your loved ones and friends, find an antique. They are timeless for a reason.
Barry Strohm from Golden Lane Antiques Gallery in New Oxford says, “Pennsylvania has always been known for its antiques.”
New Oxford, though, is where antiques are found in abundance. They make up approximately 60 percent of the borough’s retail shops. Strohm says, “We used to have the largest base of quality antique dealers in the country,” which began almost 70 years ago.
Linda Sterner, a New Oxford resident and lifetime antique collector, explained that the street show first appeared in Hanover, known as The Hanover Antique Show at Wirt Park, before migrating to New Oxford.
Lyn Grim from the New Oxford Antique Center says, “There’s a lot more history. A lot more earlier pieces to be found in town here yet. We still have a lot of good stoneware, yellowware, redware — things you can’t find in other areas.”
Which means plenty of gift opportunities for years to come.
Susie and Mike Frazier, owners of Frazier’s Old Stuff Antiques and Primitives in New Oxford since June of this year, specialize in “everything, really,” Susie says. “We love antiques. We love primitive. We do repurpose. My husband builds things. I make signs.”
But mostly, they don’t want to ruin the antiques. Susie says, “We don’t change it. We try to keep it as original as possible.”
One such antique is a sewing machine base with a table top. She says, “Sewing machines are kind of a big deal for me.” It was her grandmother’s, and it was passed down to Susie’s mother, who in turn passed it down to Susie’s daughter recently.
“I remember her using it,” she says. “It was pretty awesome. So anytime we can pick one up, in my mind, it has sentimental value. Whether if it’s for me or someone else. That’s why I enjoy working with antiques so much.”
Another antique they have is a hanging metal scale. It’s functional for decorating at any season, Susie explains. For winter, she makes little snowmen. What she loves about it, too, is the scale keeps its authentic state.
Also, Susie says, “We do have stuff for kids. We are super kid-friendly here.”
They have a doll lamp that has an additional nightlight under the skirt. They also have old Hess trucks, G.I. Joe figurines and more.
She says, “We like everything. We don’t discriminate.”
Holly and Brian Seymore, owners of the CornerStone FarmHouse in Spring Grove since 2009, specialize in antiques, primitives, handmade furniture, floral arrangements and wreaths, soaps, candles, and braided rugs, along with seasonal decor.
Holly says, “Antiques have always been an important part of my life.”
Growing up in a family that found treasures in anything and learning how to repair and refinish furniture made by a skilled craftsman helped her appreciate all things old and primitive.
Recently, Holly had a customer who wanted a table restored. The table was hand-painted and American-themed. Holly says, “It was very special to the customer. She had it most of her adult life.”
Over the years, the varnish became very sticky, which made the table unusable. Holly carefully removed the old varnish and replaced it with a new finish, all without damaging the original artwork beneath, which pleased both her and the customer.
Holly says, “I love to revive old furniture and share those beautiful pieces with my customers.”
She takes pride in repairing and refinishing items and making them “new” again.
Something New From Something Old
Vickie and Tim Senft, owners of The Freedom Log House in Spring Grove and Thomasville since the early 2000s, specialize in repurposing unique home decor. Her family likes taking outdated pieces and updating them into something new and different.
Vickie says, “People like something that somebody else’s hands really touched and molded into something new.”
In one instance, the Senfts took an old Windsor rocking chair that had a ruined seat, upholstered it, and brought it back to life.
Vickie remembered standing back after crafting it and saying, “Wow, we made that look like that! Just amazing!” She says, “But it’s the kind of thing you can do with old stuff.”
The family also works with metal sheetware. Her husband is a sheet-metal foreman, and they cut and use metal for many of their unique pieces.
One favorite metal sheetware piece is their old scoops, which hold candles.
Vickie says, “A lot of people like to burn candles.”
The old scoops are original designs by them — all hand-fabricated and hand-painted. The Senfts’ daughter, Lucy, does the painting.
To fabricate the scoops, they take old spindles from broken chairs and set a metal scoop on top of the spindle for the candle.
She says, “These one-of-a-kind items that we’re painting or making are a perfect gift.”
So, for this holiday season, instead of stressing over the crowds and unoriginal products in departments stores, take a step off the beaten path (literally for the CornerStone FarmHouse) and find something old that will become someone’s something new.
Frazier’s Old Stuff Antiques and Primitive
111 Lincoln Highway E, New Oxford
The CornerStone FarmHouse
1944 Locust Rd., Spring Grove
The Freedom Log House
1250 Porters Rd., Spring Grove
5234 Lincoln Highway W, Thomasville