Lots of familiar faces at Greenwood’s Vintage Vault

February 2024

Feature Article

Lots of familiar faces at Greenwood’s Vintage Vault


By Corbin Crable


Don’t be surprised if you walk into The Vintage Vault in Greenwood, MO, and see a few familiar faces.

The antique and vintage store, which opened Nov. 1, brought with it several vendors from Big Creek Antique, Vintage and Décor before that store closed. Now, Vintage Vault owner Sherry Zans says the small team of dedicated vendors feel like a family – having dubbed themselves ‘The Breakfast Club,’ the group’s members regularly meet for breakfast at McDonald’s and then head over to The Vintage Vault. Zans credits Big Creek owner Steve Compton with blessing her with the group of dedicated vendors, and with doing his part to spread the word about her store.

“Steve did a fantastic job of keeping the place full, and customers loved coming in there,” Zans says. “I feel blessed they are able to come with me.”

Previously, Zans, herself a former vendor, had to move out of the store she occupied when the owner put the building up for sale.

“There’s a group of vendors who are senior citizens, and they were so upset they weren’t going to be able to stay together,” Zans explained. “I told my husband, ‘The only way to keep everyone together is to open our own shop. I am a nurse by background, and I’ve worked with the elderly. I thought, ‘I have to do this. I have to keep the band together.’ And they’re a great group of people.”
Zans says she thinks the store’s wide variety of items will keep customers coming back time and again.


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You'll find an amazing variety on offer at Vintage Vault.

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The Vintage Vault on Main


“We have some boutique items like purses and handbags. We have Lazy Ones, which is a clothing line that sells pajamas, slippers, men’s boxers. We have jewelry and stuff for kids. We also have a lot of handcrafted items, like crocheted stuff, lotions, and lip balms.”
And if you feel a little peckish while shopping, Zans says she’s got you covered.

“We do have popcorn. We have a couple ladies who sell it,” she says. “We also have a couple that sell cookies for a nonprofit for fentanyl awareness.”

The store has enjoyed robust business during its first two months of serving the community. The feedback she’s received from customers so far has been glowing.

“They like the open space, they love the variety,” Zans says. “We do have a really big variety for any age. And they like the feel of the store, the layout. It’s easy to maneuver and not overcrowded.”

And, like most small towns, the other antique shops in Greenwood are known for supporting one another. The Vintage Vault has already been on the receiving end of that support.

“The local shops have all been very supportive,” Zans says. “They’ve always sent customers our way, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”

And who knows? While shopping, you might just bump into one of Zans’ many vendors and who work together to bring the store to life.

“We call each other family. We’re just really close,” Zans says. “If someone needs something, we’re always there to help.”
Located at 1303 W. Main St., for more information, call The Vintage Vault at 816-533-2546.

** The Big Creek Antiques building is for sale! 509 Main St Greenwood, MO  Spread the word!


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Primitive handmade bowls

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.


Where does the term ‘flea market’ come from, anyway?

November 2023

Feature Article

Where does the term ‘flea market’ come from, anyway?


By Corbin Crable


Some words and phrases in our lexicon lack a clear explanation for their existence – and that includes the term ‘flea market,’ a place where sellers put their gently used items up for sale to collectors.

According to a 2023 article from Mental Floss’ Matt Soniak, though the markets themselves have existed in some form since the ancient world, some historians believe the term may have been born from the street bazaars of Paris. The story goes that sometime in the late 19th century, a shopper “looked upon the market with its rags and old furniture and dubbed it le marché aux puces (“market of fleas”), because of shoppers’ perceptions that some of the more time-worn wares sold there carried the little bloodsuckers,” Soniak writes.

A little more than one hundred years have passed since ‘flea market’ first made an appearance in writing, making it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1922 after the book “In Europe” stated, “It is called the ‘Flea’ Market because there are so many second hand articles sold of all kinds that they are believed to gather fleas.”

Whatever the answer, the outdoor French bazaars that had existed for hundreds of years were demolished as the city grew and new streets and buildings went up. Once the bazaar owners were forced to set up shop elsewhere, their operations became known as “flee” markets in English; it is unknown exactly when or why that spelling morphed into “flea” markets.

A third possibility, Soniak writes, is that the term was born in Colonial America, and that the Dutch traders who settled in what would become New York established an open-air market called the Vlaie Market, so-called due to their markets’ location on swamp land.

“English speakers pronounced the word with an f up front (and sometimes a long l on the end), and the Fly/Flea Market and other places like it eventually all became flea markets,” Soniak writes.

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A flea market is seen on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, MO. Image courtesy of the Missouri State Fair Foundationpast year. (Image courtesy of Corbin Crable)


 In his U.S. Flea Market Directory, author Albert LaFarge writes that the flea market of today “is a modern version of a phenomenon that has endured throughout history in all civilized societies – wherever there is a high concentration of people, there will be market days when they assemble for the exchange of goods and services.”

According to the Hollis Flea Market, which has operated in New Hampshire since 1964, there are currently more than 5,000 flea markets across the country, with more than one million vendors and 100 million shoppers annually. It seems the ancient tradition of flea markets (or, if you’d prefer, swap meets or open-air markets) continues today and shows no signs of slowing down.


Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.


Merchant Square celebrates one year in business

October 2023

Feature Article

Merchant Square celebrates one year in business


By Corbin Crable


Look out, Kansas City barbeque restaurants – there’s a new kid in town, and the food here comes with a side of nostalgia.
Nestled inside the Merchant Square Antiques, Boutiques and Uniques storefront in Independence, MO, the restaurant is expected to open this month, a savory extension of the mall that has gained a loyal following in the year it’s been open.

Owner Jace Sanders sits in the restaurant space on one of several antique metal chairs he bought from a Masonic Lodge in St. Louis – after all, he explains, he wants the space to include as many antique and vintage touches as possible.

Though the restaurant’s opening is upon him, Sanders exudes not anxiety, but a quiet excitement. This is familiar territory to him. Originally from Arizona, Sanders was hired in 2009 at the first iteration of the Merchant Square brand, a store that opened in 2001 in Chandler AZ, where that store grew from a sprawling area filled to the brim with antiques, vintage items, collectibles, and boutique items, to include a barbeque restaurant – the Great American Smokehouse (the Independence location will be named American Way Smokehouse).

“Over the last 10 years we’ve worked on (Merchant Square in Arizona) and built it to what it is now – the number one antique store out there. And then we started the Great American Smokehouse,” Sanders says, proudly adding that the restaurant is the top-rated eatery on Trip Advisor for both Chandler and its neighboring city of Gilbert. “We had a guy who sold hot dogs out of a space inside the antique mall. He moved out, and right at the time, we had been talking about doing a sandwich and salad restaurant. Right at the time we were opening, I said, ‘What about doing barbeque?’ All of the best restaurants did Kansas City-style barbeque instead of Texas-style barbeque. We kind of copied that; we set up this barbeque place along with the sandwiches and salads. It was really cool, kind of hip, and great food.”

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Where in the world is Merchant Square? You’ll find vintage globes along with other nostalgic “school days” items at the Independence, MO location. (Image courtesy of Facebook)

Now, with the Independence mall’s successful first year in the books, Sanders says he’s excited to bring those barbeque favorites to the mall’s space – brisket, pulled pork, ribs – alongside sandwiches and salads, including a smoked egg salad sandwich and an Asian salad. The restaurant will even include vegan offerings, such as smoked jackfruit and a Reuben sandwich made of asparagus and sauerkraut.

“With the barbeque place, the store and our Third Thursday Vintage Weekend, it became a shopping experience and a fun day with great food,” Sanders says of the Chandler store. “That’s our full vision (for Independence).”
The owners of the Chandler store bought the Independence property in July 2022 after Sanders was sent the listing from a local friend. Sanders and his wife packed up their belongings and moved to the Midwest, opening the store that October.

“We love the Midwest. I hadn’t really planned on moving here. We’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Sanders says, adding that he’s learned much about Kansas City’s barbeque culture (“I’ll put our barbeque up against anybody’s”), the weather here (“It’s been interesting getting to know the rhythm of the seasons”), and, of course, the Kansas City Chiefs (“Chiefs football has absolutely blown me away”).
Sanders has enjoyed watching the number of merchants within his store grow (the store’s merchants, now up to more than 400, includes children and youths who sell clothing tie-dyed by hand and handcrafted stuffed animals; shoppers also will find a number of boutique booths adorned with women’s clothing and jewelry). A sales space right off of the main floor is reserved for themed and seasonal sales events and is only open a few days each month – appropriately, the theme for October is “Bewitched.”




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Merchant Square owner Jace Sanders (second from left) and his staff have been welcoming Kasnas City-area shoppers through the mall’s doors for the past year. (Image courtesy of Corbin Crable)


The number of loyal customers continues to grow, too. Some of those customers, Sanders adds, have even followed up to Missouri from Arizona.

“What’s wild is that we’ve had a number of customers who frequent our store in Chandler, who go down there in the winter months and then come up here,” he says. “We’ve had a number of customers who knew about us who came in who were from the area. It’s always neat to see that.”

As for what the future holds, Sanders says he would like to eventually open another store. For now, however, he and his staff are just enjoying growing the Independence location and spreading the word about their business through both advertising and word of mouth.

“We always look for opportunities to improve. We’re all about the customer experience,” Sanders says. “You don’t just shop here. People come here to reminisce and have an experience. They’ll buy stuff that they’ll make an emotional connection with, and we try to heighten that experience.”

For more information, visit merchantsquareantiques.com/kc.

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From funky fashions to fabulous funriture, you’ll find it all at Merchant Square. (Image courtesy of Facebook)

Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.


Customers, vendors are paramount to these stores’ success

September 2023

Feature Article

Customers, vendors are paramount to these stores’ success


By Corbin Crable


It’s often said that good things come in threes. For the owners of the Paramount Antique Malls – and their longtime customers – it’s an adage that certainly holds true.

The trio of antique malls have served Wichita and the surrounding area for years and are only seeing that roster of loyal customers grow with time, according to Carrie Wellborn, social media and marketing manager for Paramount.

The first location, Paramount Antique Mall, opened in West Wichita in 1999, the brainchild of Cynthia Branch and Sandy Hudspeth. The two women soon learned that the sprawling 48,000-square-foot facility and its 225 booths might not be enough to meet the demands of antique and vintage collectors in the area, so two additional locations followed – Paramount East Antique Mall (six miles east of Andover in Augusta) in 2011, and then, in 2016, Paramount Marketplace at 13th and Woodlawn in Wichita. The Paramount Antique Mall is one of the largest in the state.

Something else that makes the stores unique — Wellborn adds that Paramount is women-owned and operated (Kiley Logsdon manages Paramount Antique Mall, while Kim Bennett manages Paramount East, and Madison Branch manages Paramount Marketplace).

The secret to Paramount’s success, she says? Not just one, but several elements.
“We bring in really great dealers to set up booths inside our store. We are a small business, so within our doors are many other different small businesses. People love the idea of supporting small businesses,” says Wellborn, who started at Paramount Antique Mall as a dealer 15 years ago.

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“We have ever-changing inventory. We have dedicated floor staff who walk around the store and are just available to open cases and answer questions. We are constantly visiting with customers, asking if we can take up items to the front of the store. … I’ve been to many malls around the U.S., and you don’t find that level of service anywhere else.”

That dedication to customer service, Wellborn says, sets Paramount apart from other antique malls.
Oh, and then there’s the nostalgia – part and parcel to any good antiquing experience.

“Nostalgia just draws people in, either because they are looking for something they had as a child or they’re just trying to bring something into their home that is unique and warm and brings them joy,” Wellborn adds. “When you come into Paramount, you find those kinds of things.”
Wellborn says that although she has worked for Paramount for many years, she still enjoys coming in and listening to stories about customers finding just the perfect item for their home.

“The customers have such good memories, an excitement of the find. It’s literally a treasure hunt for them,” Wellborn says. “So it’s so fun to hear them talk about the treasures they found. And that’s why they keep coming back.”

Customers and antique enthusiasts have been coming back in greater numbers since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellborn notes. It’s a bit of good news to celebrate when so many other stores have had to shut their doors in recent years.

“After we reopened, we have been nonstop since,” Wellborn says. “I think we were missed very much because now we’re busier than ever. We have really seen support from the community.”

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You never know what you’ll find at the monthly outdoor vintage markets at each of the malls. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

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Home décor galore for any style of home including country, primitive, modern farmhouse and more. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

As someone who was raised around antiques – her father was a collector and dealer – Wellborn says she’s proud to keep working in an industry she loves.

“I spent my childhood in auctions and going to antique shows and helping my dad sell,” Wellborn explains. “It is truly part of me.”
The industry and its trends have changed a lot since Wellborn was a child, and since Paramount opened its doors nearly a quarter of a century ago.

“We are seeing a trend of people just looking for things that speak to them, items for home that just bring them joy,” Wellborn observes. “We’ve seen a huge upswing in demand for Midcentury Modern. People are always looking for particular pieces, industrial, signage, rusty metal. Vintage clothing has been incredibly hot and seems to be growing at a very fast pace.”

The way Paramount has marketed itself has obviously changed, too, thanks to the advent of online technology, which was only in its infancy when Paramount opened. Social media allows Wellborn to reach out to different generations of customers on different platforms as well.


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Traditional antique furniture to mid-century modern treasures. (photo courtesy of Paramount Antique Mall)

“What’s interesting about social is the demographics of each platform,” she says. “You can grow your audience or customer base based on what platforms you’re using. Facebook would be a more mature audience, but then you go to TikTok and that’s a much younger audience. It’s just reaching different generations of people and showing them that Paramount has something for everyone.”
Wellborn says the customers, owners, vendors, management and staff of the three locations have all worked together to make the stores such a smashing success over the years. Their growth, she says, is thanks to them.

“As a store that hosts so many vendors, we’re so grateful for them because they’re the lifeblood of our store. All the hard work they put into their booths is the reason we can keep going,” Wellborn says. “Customers who keep coming are the secret to our longevity.”

Paramount regularly hosts sales during each major holiday and new season; see this and future issues of Discover Vintage America for further details.

For more information, visit www.paramountantiquemall.com.


Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.


Brothers open vintage clothing store in Kansas City

August 2023

Feature Article

Brothers open vintage clothing store in Kansas City

“They’ve taken a dream… and watched it become a reality”

By Corbin Crable


If local youths Reade and Thomas Rex are any indication of where the vintage collectibles industry is headed, the future is indeed looking bright.

Reade, 17, and Thomas, 21, recently teamed up to open a new vintage clothing store near Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.
The younger of the two brothers, who has been selling vintage clothing online for two years, says he’s always been interested in vintage clothing, and this year, he decided to parlay that interest into a brick-and-mortar storefront.

“There are a few vintage clothing stores in Kansas City, but I noticed they lacked diversity in their clothing,” Reade says. “My brother was very supportive. I didn’t know if my mom thought I was going to do it first, but once she realized I was turning my thoughts into actions, she was very supportive.”

Reade, who does the purchasing and marketing for the store, says he and Thomas work well together.

“I know my way around the clothing,” Reade says, with Thomas adding, “I’m the operations and Reade is the creative lead. He knows the ins and outs of the vintage community. Making everything work logistically is my game.”

Thomas and Reade likely inherited their interest in vintage clothing from their mother Nancy, who has had her own booth at pop-up events.

It’s always been near and dear to my heart,” Nancy says. “Watching Reade teach himself is fascinating. They’ll run new ideas by myself and their dad and stepdad. The two of them have done 98 percent of it, I’d say.”

Reade says he recalls going thrifting with his mother over the course of the past five years, and that’s when his interest grew. He says he’s learned a lot, too, about what buyers are after nowadays.

“Definitely any kind of clothing related to old music, I get a lot of requests for,” he says. “That is very popular, and also old denim pre-1960s is very sought after.”

He adds that he’s excited to expand his business from cyberspace onto Kansas City’s streets.

“The retail storefront ex-perience will help me understand the fundamentals of what it takes to make a small business happen,” he says, “as well with customer interaction, building a following, a community.”

Nancy says that Thomas, a University of Kansas alumnus, has his own media production company as well, and that the two brothers continue to learn much from each other.

“They are very close,” she says. “Reade also has had the opportunity to watch Thomas — they started a small production company — so Thomas is running a small company on his own. Reade watched him do that, so the two of them can lean on each other.”
Nancy adds that she’s proud of the path her sons have chosen, and that their skill and knowledge will take them far.

“They’ve taken a dream in less than six months and watched it become a reality. It makes a mom’s heart proud. The most exciting thing is, it doesn’t seem like work to either one of them,” Nancy says. “They have different personalities. Reade is the creative one and Tom is the logistics/operations one, but it’s been a journey that’s been fun. When I tell a friend of mine and they see the unconventional journey these two are on that isn’t just straight through high school and college, it’s fun to have a friend say, ‘Wow, I’m so impressed with what they’re doing.’ We’re not making the success, they are on their own.” 

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Thomas Rex (left) and his brother Reade stand in front of their new vintage clothing store, The Rex Catalog. The store opened in July near Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. (Image courtesy of Nancy Rink)

As for advice they might offer other young people who want to follow a similar trajectory, the brothers have advice gained from their own experiences.

“Try to present yourself in a distinct way to your target audience,” Thomas says. “Make yourself unique.”

Adds Reade: “Don’t wait on yourself to do something great. Start today and make a plan and how you’re going to get there.”

The Rex Catalog is located at 2645 Madison Ave. in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/therexcatalog or call 918-499-0073.

**Note** – The guys held a pop-up on July 7th at the venue, but the shop doesn’t open until late August. Follow them on Facebook to watch for updates.






Contact Corbin Crable at editor@discovervintage.com.