Road Trip: Michiana & Kalamazoo


No, I didn’t go on another road trip this weekend (sadly), the set of photos in this post were from 2 trips taken to Kalamazoo, Michigan and the Michiana area back in October of 2010. The first trip was with Albert, he helped me drop off pieces for my solo show in Kalamazoo. My second trip was to attend the Midwest regional meeting of the Society of Photographic Education (SPE) who sponsored my show.
On the way back to Chicago from Kalamazoo, Albert and I hit the Michiana region, an antiquing gold mine according to an article written by Katherine Raz of Back Garage for The Chicago Reader. Katherine had much better luck than us (apparently she had to roll down the windows of her car to get all the treasures home!) but that’s the nature of thrifting/antiquing– it changes day to day. We also conjectured that after the article was published there was a stampede of Chicago dealers/vintage lovers and that they picked the area dry.
We did, however, spy an amazing 1960s couch at a thrift store (photos below). I also discovered a cachet of MCM furniture for cheap at a thrift store in Kalamazoo.


DONUTS! Chicago’s donut scene is nonexistant, we really only have Dunkin’ Doughnuts and a few bakeries that have donuts but are FAR from my neighborhood (ie Bennison’s in Evanston that I pilgrimage to every 3 weeks or so). Whenever I’m traveling I seize the opportunity to try the region’s doughnuts, SweetWater’s Donut Mill in Kalamazoo had delicious blueberry doughnuts and they were quite inexpensive!

This couch is the love of my life. Sadly we had a ‘missed connection’ as Albert was driving a compact car and she couldn’t fit into it. It looks as if it’s from the 1960s and the upholstery was in mint condition! There were a few scratches on the base but they could have been easily buffed out. Oh did I mention it was only $75?? Yes, I cried a little too. There was a moment when I seriously considered buying the couch and then trying to figure out how to ship it home.

A side view. Can a couch be sexy? Yes, I believe it can!

At the same St. Vincent’s thrift store we spied this MCM chair for $18 and china hutch for $99. Both were in great condition.

The conference was held about 3 miles from downtown Kalamazoo. Unfortunately the bus system was tricky so I ended up walking those 3 miles a few times over my 4-day trip. Above was a nifty looking store that unfortunately was closed whenever I tried to visit it. 🙁

There were some amazing pieces of architecture downtown, including this concert hall– the marquee seems to suggest the space was at one point a movie theatre.

While I was well fed at the conference, I also ventured off the college campus where it was hosted to local hot spots. One morning I had breakfast at The Water Street Coffee Joint, a cheery spot within walking distance of a couple antique shops.

The vintage scene hasn’t really caught on yet in Kalamazoo, I only found 2 antique shops and no stores dedicated to vintage clothing. There seemed to be an abundance of thrift stores but I only got the chance to hit 2 of them. The first antique shop was a small mall with 40 vendors. Prices were pretty high (on par with Chicago) but I managed to find 2 pieces of jewelry there. My favorite shop, however, was JP’s Coins, Collectibles and Antiques. It is one of those old fashioned junk shops where STUFF is piled everywhere and you need to dig. Many of the items aren’t priced and the owner is willing to bargain if you make a pile. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of what I bought but I found a antique teddy bear wearing ice skates, a large pin featuring a knight, some old marbles and two 1930s souvenir pins from Michigan. Addresses for both locations below:
Kalamazoo Antiques Market

120 N Edwards St , Kalamazoo, MI 49007, (269) 226-9788
JP’s Coins, Collectibles & Antiques
420 S Burdick St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, 269) 383-2200
If you ever visit Kalamazoo I’d recommend hitting the thrift stores as they are DIRT CHEAP compared to Chicago. The majority of small items like kitchenware/knick knacks were under a dollar and a majority of the furniture ranged from $5 to $50. If only I owned a van…


The photo above and the next 6 images were vintage finds at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission “Rescued Treasures” thrift store. Again, I wish I’d had a van to get some of these furniture pieces home! I’m not sure if they usually have this much vintage or some groovy person just donated all their furniture that day.

Chairs were $10 each, the one on the left was made out of a velvet material.

2-tiered 1950s tables are a common find but this one was only $5!

If I’d been able to get this console and the green couch my life would be complete. The console is probably from the 1950s and it would be PERFECT for my TV (right now it’s on a practical but mundane TV stand blah). The console was also only $30.

Kitschy owl lamp! It was $8 so I contemplated bringing it back on the Amtrak train with me but I’ve been trying to get away from the 1970s aesthetic in my decor (am still fine with ’70s for fashion though).

Granny chic telephone bench! The velvety cushions have a rad scene of an old water mill printed on them.

Yes this store had everything– including the kitchen sink. Actually they had multiple sinks as you can see above.

On my LONG walk from the college campus to downtown Kalamazoo I walked through the historic district. I’m not sure how old these homes were but I’d say somewhere between the 1910s-1930s?


I loved the bright colours and the peaked roofs of the homes. I’m fascinated by the regional differences in architecture, we mainly have brick homes in Chicago (yes we’re paranoid after the great Chicago Fire of the 1800s).


Comments 0

  1. Yikes. The couch and console are completely ridiculously awesome, especially the prices. Do you think you'd be able to ship them for $200 or so? It might still be worth it. I feel so sad that you had to leave them…

    Good choice on leaving the owl lamp. 😉

  2. Oh man, $30 for that console?! Amazing. My heart cries for you for the console and couch.

    We're looking for the perfect console too to replace our craptastic TV stand. But blonde and about half the size for our tiny space, plus cabinets instead of drawers for hiding electronics. If only! 😉

  3. I cannot believe you left that amazing green sofa and the console. I would've strapped them on my back and carried them home to Chicago! 😉

    Oh, and that white Panasonic clock radio was the same one I had next to my bed as a young girl all through the '70s. It lives on my dad's workbench now!

    And the old frame houses … most likely turn of the century.

  4. Jesse and I just ventured to K-Zoo a few weekends ago to visit his sister at Western Michigan University. I wish we would have had more time to look around because the little downtown area is so cute!! Thanks for the tips on the thrift stores, as I am sure we will be going back at some point to visit his sister again.

  5. Are you kidding me with that sofa and console?! It would be totally worth it to ship them at those prices. Man oh man, those would look amazing in any house!

    Looks like I need to get a truck and drive to Michigan. 😉

  6. Everytime you CAN'T transport something large home that is when you find it. So irritating 🙁 That couch is awesome.

    The owl lamp reminds me something I would see at an estate sale and be amazed at but would be marked up to $100.

  7. I love kalamazoo so nice to see someone with positive things to say. kalamazoo, Michigan is the only place for me. Global Visas Complaints department are happy to assist any client that may have an issue regarding our service. I will never leave her, I would be heart broken. I feel a deep connection and my soul feels at peace here, its home. Good times or bad, its home.

  8. Just stumbled upon this post. We are so SAD that you didn't happen upon our consignment shop. We are known in the Kalamazoo area for our selection of vintage clothing, accessories, hats, gloves, shoes, and jewelry and have the longest running consignment store in town! (33 years) We have outfitted many different theater groups throughout this region and have sold our items WORLDWIDE 🙂 If you ever visit Kalamazoo again please stop and visit us!!!

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