Alex Wall, 23, of Lincoln started antique shopping last year to find something to do during the pandemic.
Wall said he likes to find furniture he can repurpose, but he is most interested in baseball cards from any era.
“My dad was an avid baseball card collector and gave me some of his when I was a kid,” Wall said. “Every time I find one that I like, it reminds me of the excitement I felt whenever he gave me a pack to open.”
Wall said he’s also converted many of his friends to joining him with the hobby.
Wall and his friends are among the young people who are flocking to antique stores.
Young people make up almost half of all global collectors, and antiques sales have soared thanks to them, according to an analysis in the 2020 Market Report that examines art, antiques and vintage buying trends.
It’s a trend Lincoln antique store owners are noticing.
Adam McNeil, owner of Vintage Village Antique Mall, located on 2425 O Street, said he has witnessed the age shift in customers at his store.
“We have always had young customers coming into the store, but that has increased noticeably over the past few years,” he said.
Cool and Collected Antiques, located on 3235 S 13th Street, has seen a similar uptick in young customers, said owner Todd Hollenbeck. The store, which has 50 vendors, always has enjoyed a younger clientele because many of the vendors sell clothes or vintage items from the 70s and 80s.
“Vintage clothing is a one in a kind thing,” Hollenbeck said. “You can’t find it at Target or other stores, which is another reason why people keep coming to antique stores.”
Other big sellers are mid-century furniture and vintage items from the 70s and 90s, he said. Hollenbeck also said that younger people also like to repurpose antiques and furniture for their homes in an effort to be eco-friendly.
“I think what attracts people to antiques are nostalgia, style and how well the items are made,” Hollenbeck said. “Vintage items and antiques are made out of real wood and will last longer than buying something from somewhere like Wayfair.”
McNeil said most of his customers are looking for things that remind them of their childhood of what they grew up with, such as Star Wars collectibles, GI Joe,or comic books. Glassware and Victorian-styled items that used to sell well are no longer as popular.
Finding what interests customers can be challenging. Hollenbeck, who opened Cool and Collected Antiques in 2011 but has worked in the antique business for over 20 years, travels to estate sales, tag sales and garage sales to bring a wide range of items from every era to appeal to customers. Hollenbeck also seeks out ideas on Pinterest and looks at decorative magazines to see what items are trending in popularity
Vintage Village Antique Mall, which has been in business for 12 and a half years, has 51 dealers who offer a variety of items, including collectibles, furniture and coins.
“I think having many items available to choose from makes antique shopping exciting to people,” McNeil said. “People can walk in randomly, see multiple items that catch their eye, and buy them.”
“You never know what you will find and can spend hours just wandering around stores,” he said. “I think that is part of the magic of antique shopping.”