For pickers and antiques aficionados, everything old is new again, and there’s certainly plenty of charming territory to explore in the welcoming town of Salem on the northwest outskirts of Roanoke, Virginia.
“Antiquing in Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a nice little niche market,” says Carey Harveycutter, director of tourism for Salem, Virginia’s Championship City. “We have quite a few antique shops and malls right here in Salem, and when you get into the greater region, that number grows exponentially.”
For a town of just 14 square miles and 25,000 residents, Salem claims eight different antiques shopping destinations, and that’s in addition to a series of regularly scheduled farmer auctions.
Charlotte’s Web Antique Mall houses 40 independent vendors all under one roof, while Salem Antique Market stages its eclectic wares across two entire buildings and a separate annex. Clocking in at 24,000 square feet, Buy the Season carries not just antiques, but also a wide inventory of seasonal goods, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, furniture and home décor.
To capitalize on these unique offerings, the city works in conjunction with Virginia tourism partners to market the area, and recently launched the Salem Antique Trail to whet customer interest and draw traffic from Interstate 81. Harveycutter says most people who visit the area to shop for antiques tend to arrive by car.
“We’re really a drive market,” he explains. “Especially if you come to look for antique furniture, you’re not going to get on an airplane with those purchases!”
Because Salem is such a close-knit community, the dealers and vendors often collaborate to promote the area, and to cheer each other on.
“They are a competitive group, but they’re also very supportive,” Harveycutter says. “If someone comes in looking for a specific item and a particular store doesn’t have it, they’re good to refer to another location. Everyone wants their own piece of the pie, like any good retailer, but they all want to get along and work together.”
The fun of antiquing is that shoppers never know exactly what kinds of treasures they might discover on any given excursion.
“There is some tremendous antique furniture in this market, and a lot of small curios,” Harveycutter mentions. “You might find items going back as far as the Spanish-American War, advertising signs, clocks, silver coins, Civil War currency — it’s just a little bit of everything.”
With a pair of craft beer breweries, a collection of dining options and a couple boutique hotels to consider, Salem stands ready to accommodate visitors whether their travels bring them through town for an afternoon or for a few days. The Lofts at Downtown Salem, a boutique hotel, showcases architecture details like brick walls and beamed ceilings in a renovated former auto body shop, while the luxurious Rowland Hotel sits pretty above Frankie Rowland’s Steakhouse, both walkable to several of the city’s best antique shops.
To learn more about making the most of an antiquing trip to Salem, Virginia, call 540.375.4044 or visit visitsalemva.com.
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