Iowa (Lakes area) antique stores galore

Posted by Meghan in Field Trip | 5 Comments

I have been putting off blogging about my Midwest vacation, it’s just too much to think about. Too many photos, too many scraps of paper with sales or thrift store notes scribbled on them. This was way bigger than Texas as far as the sheer volume of places that I went to.

I was going to try and blog in chronological order, but that started to overwhelm me. The solution (if you can call it that) is to just slowly tackle a state at a time.

So I’ll start with the Lakes area of Iowa – covering Spirit Lake, Okoboji, Spencer, Milford and Esterville. As far as I can tell there aren’t really any thrift stores in this area, with the exception of a crappy Goodwill in Spencer that was mostly filled with cast-offs from Walmart and Old Navy.

There are 27 different antique shops in this area and I was able to hit about half of those, some very overpriced. The Okoboji Antique Mall has higher prices than Ebay! This is Iowa, right? They did have this awesome Tidy Teddy parks sign that I thought was pretty great.

Tidy Teddy


One antique mall in downtown Spirit Lake (Red Door Antiques) had a fly swatter for sale – WTF?

Fly Swatter for sale

They did have Bakelite-handled flatware for dirt cheap, so I guess that was an okay trade-off.

There seemed to be no real middle ground. Most places were either super high end …


… or super low end.


I purchased some vintage Fiestaware for 3 bucks a plate at a place called the 6th Street Emporium in Estherville that was far more large-scale thrift store than antique shop. They did have the largest selection of bridesmaids dresses and shoes that I have ever seen in one place.

Bridesmaids dresses galore

Here is an insanely long list of antique stores in Iowa in case you are headed out that way for some reason.

5 Responses to Iowa (Lakes area) antique stores galore

  1. Joy says:

    LOVE your blog – and even better the name of it! 😉


  2. Wanda says:

    Wait a minute. Are you SURE you weren’t in east central Alabama? We have the same things in our Goodwills, our shops are almost all higher than eBay, they’re either high end or trash and……I swear I’ve seen the same fly swatter for sale! Uh, think they know something we don’t? …..Nah. If they do, they can keep it.

  3. oh- hello dear 1- i just had to come over from your flickr world to say wow- have a great day- la la la , jo anderson.

  4. Kitty says:

    I love love love your blog. My daughter and I live for the weekends. Our entire homes are decored in vintage tag sale,LOL. I read most of your post and noticed one that mentioned the “catch and release” thing. My daughter and I once took all of our sale items that we no longer wanted and had a garage sale to go visit my sil in Ga just to be able to go to more garage sales,LOL. Ahhh fun times.
    I’ll be visiting often, and will link your blog to mine. Thanks for the smiles….Kitty

  5. Julie says:

    ooh to funny !!! You so totally hit the nail on the head !! I live about 65 miles from the lakes area I frequent these shops often in fact been a dealer at one of the shops..none you listed above LOL But YES the prices are redicuious in a couple of these shops ??? I only wish I could get half the price of some pieces !!

    The lakes area is so seasonal…hard to be a dealer there!! The Flea markets on the 3 holiday weekends are the best …and there are still bargains out there !! picked up a Bubble cut Barbie for $4.00 at the Okoboji Antique Mall last year . Ya just gotta look real hard !! LOL