Robinette opens shop for vintage finds downtown

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

NATCHEZ — When her collecting hobby didn’t stop growing, Connie Robinette had to find a place big enough to hold it.

Robinette started many years ago looking for interesting furniture, fixtures, accessories, dishes and other unique pieces to clean, repair and then resell.

Now she has an entire store full of her finds.

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Robinette was joined by Stan McCearley who has contributed many items to the store.

“He is a really great friend of mine,” she said. “He has brought in a lot of really good stuff.”

Robinette opened Vintage Retreat on the corner of State and Broadway streets in mid-January in the building owned by her family.

“I did not start doing this to open a business,” Robinette said. “That part just sort of happened, but it has been a fun experience for sure.”

And every day is like a trip down memory lane, Robinette said. Most of the items in Robinette’s store are vintage, she said, so when shoppers come in and start looking around, memories and feelings are triggered.

“What I have is mostly from the early 1900s to 1950s,” Robinette said. “I have some antiques from the 1800s and other things, as well.

“But when people start looking around they immediately start talking about memories they have of growing up with their parents or grandparents and using items like the ones in the store.”

Some of the customers’ favorite items are the vintage licenses plates, furniture pieces and other odds and ends, Robinette said.

“The store has grown more than I ever thought it would,” she said. “I get a lot of out-of-towners who come in and say they love going in stores like this. I also have a good number of local folks who come in regularly.”

Since opening, Robinette said she’s had customers that stop into the store and end up spending hours just walking around.

“It takes a while to get through everything,” she said.

The front of the store is home to furniture, china, a collection of salt and peppershakers, vintage records and smaller decorative pieces. But that is only half of the story.

The back room of the store is home to old bathtubs and sinks, doors, wooden ironing boards, bed frames and even a make-shift vintage kitchen complete with stove, cabinets and cookware.

“There is as much fun stuff back here,” Robinette said. “It’s a good place for people who are redecorating a house or a room to look.”

Vintage Retreat is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The other days Robinette uses to find items to sale in the store.

She searches online for estate sales, goes to auctions or just looks through her own house.

“Everyone is always trying to get rid of their stuff,” she said. “That is what I was doing when I first started doing this. I was trying to get rid of stuff in my house that was still good, but I just didn’t have a place for. I still do that from time-to-time.”

When Robinette picks and item to bring back to Vintage Retreat, she said the item has to have a little something extra to find its way to a shelf.

“I look for things that just have a unique feature or a unique look about them,” she said. “Something that stands out from the rest of the stuff around it is what my customers like.”