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Chicago’s Randolph Street Market Offers Something for Everyone

by Gregory Watkins (05/15/12).

Chicago’s beautiful skyline is the backdrop for antiques & vintage shopping at the Randolph Street Market

Sally Schwartz has been a collector her whole life, so it is no surprise that she gravitated to antiques shows as a profession. But when she looked at what Chicago had to offer in the way of a big, funky antique show where someone could find anything from a Tiffany lamp to recycled industrial lighting to original art, there was a big void.

“There was nothing in the city,” she said. “It was just a big hole.”

So Schwartz set out to fill that void. The result is the Randolph Street Market, which is thebiggest indoor/outdoor antiques market in the country. It kicks off its 2012 indoor/outdoor season on Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27, where WorthPoint will be partnering with RSM for the weekend’s festivities. In celebration of this partnership, WorthPoint will be hosting free appraisals at the market. These will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days. Register today to join our VIP list and be first in line to see our esteemed Worthologists.

Held at the historic Beaux Arts Plumber’s Hall in Chicago’s West Loop, the RSM features more than 250 dealers offering “high quality, amazingly priced items.”

“The Randolph Street Market is the largest urban antiques market in the country,” said Schwartz. “My goal is to have the very best merchandise and a good mix of merchandise. I look for different types of venders to get the best of their pickings.”

Francine Turk (right) and some of her work.

Schwartz has recruited each dealer in the show, and all venders are vetted to make sure the merchandise is top-shelf quality. The show is so popular that she has to turn dealers away. Those who do make the cut are going to be offering a wide variety of wares. Among the dealers you will run across in your wanderings through the show—and it’s a big show, like city-block big, so make sure your wear comfortable shoes—is someone like Chicago-based artist Francine Turk.

You may not have heard of Turk, but you may have seen her art, as she was “discovered” at the RSM. Dan Clancy, a Hollywood set decorator, often shops for props and other items at RSM. On one of his trips, he met Turk and liked her work. He liked it so much, he used her paintings, charcoal drawing and other mixed media pieces to fill Jennifer Anniston’s art gallery in the 2006 movie “The Breakup” shops for lots of movies at the market.

For Memorial Day weekend show, Turk is teaming up with Philip McCaleb of Genuine Scooters on a charity auction benefiting Military Working Dogs Foundation. McCalen has donated a Buddy 50 scooter and helmet, and Turk gave it its own special paint job. Now, the scooter—dubbed “Love Bus”—will be auctioned off at the market. If you are at the show, make sure you wander over to check out the “Love Bus” and the other scooters available for a test drive.

Among the other deals you may see are:

• Doug McElwain, who brings his sport memorabilia booth from North Carolina to Chicago to feed the Windy City’s huge sports collectibles appetite.

• Matt Meyer, whose 20-foot-by-20-foot tent is packed with books; books for collections, first editions and hard-to-finds titles.

• If you’re looking for an old bike, check out Mike’s Bikes, which features old Schwinns and cruisers. The editor of Veranda magazine stumbled across this booth and ended up shipping three bikes back to the Hamptons.

The beautiful, air-conditioned Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall building is the jewel of the Randolph Street Market.

Because of the population of Chicago, every level of shopper can be found at RSM; sophisticated collectors, just-married filling their condo, people who have unloaded things they’ve inherited. It’s a hybrid-market, a vertical shopping environment. Schwartz says she keeps the fees for the spaces as low as she can to encourage dealers from all stratospheres.

“No matter how big you are or how little, you can afford to do the show, and that means there is something for everybody,” she said.

When you come to the RSM and you really do get the feeling that it’s not a traditional “antique” show. A large segment of the RSM dealers cater to younger buyers who are looking for vintage item to spruce up their apartments and smaller homes.

“These dealers, mid-20s and up, they have good eyes. While the bigger venders are buying at estates, they guys are picking at the Goodwill and offering a whole different dollar-basis,” said Schwartz. “They are not being invited into the Gross Point estates to buy; the stuff they have, the people they reach and the way they market, if they can keep upping their game, they are the future of the business.

“They come to Randolph Street, You can count on coming here and finding it here. They are the vintage stars.”

From burkas to Birkins, tattoos to Tiffany, there is a style, and a treasure, for every age, ethnicity, gender, & wallet.

Schwartz says that she expects some 10,000 people to come to the Randolph Street Market at the end of the month. The indoor-outdoor season runs through September, as well as a smaller antique show inside the building the rest of the year.

And she is not shy about what she thinks of her creation. “I think the Randolph Street Market is the best in the county,” she said. “It has the best selection and the best quality, it’s a really fun experience, we have live music, entertainment and things you can come to discover that you’ve never seen before.”

The Randolph Street Market Indoor/Outdoor Season Opener
May 26-27, 2012

Saturday, May 26: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free appraisals 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 27: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free appraisals 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Inside Historic Plumbers Hall
1340 W. Washington, Chicago, Ill.

General Admission: $10 at the gate
Student Discount Admission: $5 at the gate
Early Buying Saturday – Outdoors at 8 a.m. and Indoors at 9 a.m.: $25 at the gate

• Complimentary Furniture Delivery* within downtown Chicago!
• Kids under 12 always FREE
• FREE PARKING in huge Plumbers Hall lot
• Shopping Refund Vouchers for Admission by Vendors: Each voucher is for $5 off and the vendors should reduce the purchase price by $5 on items valued $25 or more. Note that not all vendors are able to honor the voucher due to their profit margins and customer should ask vendor if they accept the voucher before they shop in their booth.

Phone: 312.666.1200


Are you on Twitter? Join the conversation at the Randolph Street Market Festival! Follow #OccupyVintage on May 26 and 27 to tweet with others at the event. @WorthPoint will be tweeting throughout the show so follow us for great information, photos and finds!


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