A Snohomish Weekend Odyssey
The late great newspaper columnist and humorist Art Buchwald once wrote an amusing tongue-in-cheek column, Breaking The Four-Minute Louvre, about the quickest visit ever to Paris’ massive and impressive museum. When it comes to the Snohomish, Washington’s antique and collecting community, like the Louvre, there’s simply too much to see and do to consider a visit of only four hours. This vibrant community northeast of Seattle on the banks of the Snohomish River offers collectors of antiques so much to do and see you may as well make it a weekend from the very start of this adventure in collectibles.
Located a stone’s throw for the mammoth Boeing plant in Everett, and a hop, skip and jump from the Eastside technology corridor, where the massive Microsoft campus is located, Snohomish’s small town charm has continued to thrive. It remains one of the most appealing aspects for many who visit, how the town provides a pleasant getaway from the hustle and bustle of a big city.
While Native Americans were the first to live in the area, by the time settlers began moving into the area in the late 1850s, most had moved to one of four reservations nearby.
Snohomish, which was earlier called Cadyville after founder Edson Cady, was initially developed to support the local agricultural economy. But it wasn’t long before it became a logging town thanks in part to the area’s lush forests of Douglas fir. In 1871, Cadyville became Snohomish.
While Snohomish is the largest antique community in Washington, it is still known as an agricultural center and on any given day one can find a bounty of plants, flowers and vegetables grown in the lush soil that surrounds the area.
The first tip to consider when visiting Snohomish is to arrive early. Parking is at a premium and on-street slots fill up quickly, particularly on the weekends. The city downtown association is working with city officials to alleviate this issue. There is a parking lot at the west end of the city that includes four EV charging stations. Another possibility is to park at the lot at the historic Carnegie Library, now the Snohomish Education Center. The lot is posted, but locals tell us as long as there isn’t a formal event going on its safe to park there. Use your judgement.
It’s unlikely our story will cover every single antique, vintage and collectible outlet, but enough to give you a flavor of this Washington heartland city.
Where you park will likely give you your first stopping off point. The Snohomish Exchange was a first stop since it was close by. This is a large building that comes with its own history dating back to 1950. Jim McGinty is the proprietor. Retired from construction work, McGinty said the building has been in the family since the 1970s.
“We are unique — kinda a second hand store that deals in just about anything that folks might be interested in. We really have a wide range of second hand stuff,” he said.
You’ll also find a good selection of furniture, glassware and dolls, and probably the kitchen sink, too, if you’re looking for one.
Away from the downtown core sits the largest antique and collectible store in Western Washington, the Star Center Mall. The former Snohomish Armory, it dates back to 1928 and collectors will find more than 150 vendors across five floors. Visiting the multi-tiered Star Center Mall not only is a great way to achieve your daily steps goal, but also gives you several flights of stairs to add to your routine.
Holly Regan, along with her husband, manages the multitude of vendors. Her father-in-law purchased the building in 1982, and she notes it’s been a destination for antique community for many years. It’s difficult to pinpoint what you might find among the many vendors. Needless to say, there really is something for everyone.
Holly and company focus on French Art Glass, Art Noveau, and Sterling Silver Jewelry, and adds, “We have collectibles and antiques for just about anyone.”
On the way to the main drag of Snohomish — First Street — where the core of the antique and vintage shops are found, you’ll come across a couple of shops that you might miss if you just stayed in the downtown core.
Wonderland Vintage is an eclectic store featuring clothing from the Victorian Era to the early 2000s. Owner Deborah Granick notes, “I’m passionate and focussed about Victorian clothing and clothing to the 1930s. I’m always trying to sort those types of things.”
Granick adds,”This is a community space focussed on self expression. I believe what you wear is an art form and affects your happiness and joy.”
Nearby, it is easy to miss Matthew Danner’s Every Day Natural Products shop. From the outside it is a mushroom and CBD company, but on the inside you’ll find, as Danner notes, more of a curiosity shop with antiques and eclectic items.
In addition to wood carvings, Danner’s shop includes a collection of Tiffany-styled lamps. “These aren’t Robert Louis Tiffany lamps — but they’re in that style and it’s a nice collection of functional art,” he notes.
Jumping back to First Street, a stop at the Troy Beck shop will introduce you to Sharon and Doug Bates, both of whom are longtime collectors with a significant level of knowledge of a wide range of antiques and vintage collectibles.
Says Doug, “Everything in here is ours — we don’t have vendors. That allows us to be very focused on what we offer — and we think we really are able to offer true vintage, antique and collectible items. We price items reasonably to the marketplace and generally items turnover quickly.
“People get a good deal and they keep coming back,” Doug noted.
Sharon adds, “We have a great collection of items for the Man Cave or the Woman Cave.” That includes Automobilia, vintage pottery and Native American artifacts.
The couple have been involved in the antique and vintage business for more than 30 years and Sharon said, “We’re experts at being generalists. I know a reasonable amount about a wide range of antique and vintage topics. But I’m always learning more and researching.”
The name of the store is in memory to her son and daughter-in-law, who died in a private plane crash.
By now, if you haven’t had a hearty breakfast — and even if you have — you might be ready for a bite to eat. Downtown Snohomish has no less than 25 eateries offering just about any cuisine your heart desires.
These include Andy’s Fish House, where you’ll likely wait in line for an order of fish and chips, Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse, The Cabbage Patch Restaurant and the Spada Farmhouse Restaurant and Brewerey, just to name a few. It seems there isn’t a bad meal to be had in Snohomish.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the two bakeries located on the antique trail. The Snohomish Bakery provides delicious turnovers to go with morning coffee. Nearby is the Grain Artisan Bakery featuring gluten-free and vegan treats.
No worries about a little sweet indulgence along the way -- you’ll likely walk off the calories as you see the special collectible item.
While there are many choices for places to stay within easy driving distance of Snohomish, the full Snohomish experience is best had near the downtown core antique area at nearby inns and homes. These include INN at Snohomish, Pine Avenue Carriage House and Adam’s Manor. That also solves your parking problem.
In the 8,500 square foot Antique Warehouse, Eamon Puzzo brings a wealth of knowledge as well as store with a diverse selection of items. He’s a WWII airplane buff and has a number of scale models of historic WWII planes.
But there’s a great deal more to this establishment. You’ll also find a wide range of antique and vintage furniture, including one of a cherry roll top desk, immaculately refinished that is sure to catch your eye. There are also a number of mounted animal heads, including a moose with a full set of horns that measure nearly 70 inches in width.
For the full antique experience, visit the basement where Puzzo noted customers have complained of mischievous ghosts who flash the lights on and off or move various items.
At Remember When, Lori Powell Warren believes you’ll find grandma’s store, a quintessential antique store where she says collectors are sure to find something they’ll like.
She’s been in the business for nearly 30 years and, as her daughter chimed in, “She knows everything (about antiques).”
“I was one of the dealers in the store initially, and bought the store 18 years ago. I’d say we are a wide ranging shabby-chic store.
“Man or woman, young or old, I think you can walk into our shop and find something you’ll like and that’s something that I’m really happy about,” she said.
Warren said they have an excellent selection of guy things, like fishing equipment, tools and such. However, she’s quite proud of the glassware that the store offers.
“A lot of people gave up on glassware, but we’ve kept it. One of the areas we specialize in is Pyrex dishes. For many, these dishes bring back memories of days past, but they’re also still very useful,” she said.
If you want to take a break from the collecting scene, Snohomish provides myriad other activities. These include monthly Sunsets in Snohomish wine walks, the Mad Hatter Croquet Tournament in early September, and the Snohomish Classic Car Show, also in September, to name a few.
While the downtown historic district is well known among collectors, Snohomish also has a number of Victorian homes which add to the charm of your visit.