Scenes From a Mall


Along Ridge Road in Wilmette is a showplace of quirky things old, shiny, handmade, one of a kind—you name it.  Touring the collections, it’s clear many of the items were once treasured possessions, the good stuff for Sunday dinners and birthday presents. Others were everyday artifacts from the  kitchen cupboard and top of the dresser.  Still others fit a category all their own, the attractively curious, or curiously attractive, depending on how you feel about an alligator handbag with the head still on.

As you go from booth to booth at the Heritage Trail Mall, the universal question is on display, too:  Who collects all this stuff?


The atmosphere is undoubtably feminine, but the retailers there should never be described as north shore ladies-who-lunch and then go shopping.  Rather, they’re curators of times when big table lamps were popular or everybody carried a plaid thermos to the game.  With a trendy eye, they dust off and polish up some worthy (and sometimes valuable) bygones for recirculation.


Among the vendors are designers, downsized shop owners and passionate shopper-collectors.  Many regularly shop the weekly city auctions and  weekend flea markets in nearby towns like Grayslake and Kenosha.

These vintage wool blankets and throws are $55 each.


Birds as the new botanicals?  Two in a set of nine prints from the 18th century.

Here’s a set of  dried herb botanicals.


Part of the curious collection.


Samantha Stephens and Louise Tate signature wear.  On the left is sheared mouton. On the right is black persian lamb with a fur collar.  Both jackets are in excellent condition.


When you make the trip to the mall, don’t miss one of the most popular booths that features religious icons —Virgin Mary statues, creches, all sizes of crucifixes and Buddhas.  Of course the collector is Jewish.

Heritage Trail Mall
420 Ridge Road
Wilmette IL 60091


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