“If someone asked me if I’d be doing this ten years ago, I would have laughed. I would have said ‘No chance, no way!’ Not this,” Theresa Walker laughed and gestured at her domain with a sweep of her hand. “Not in a million years”
But here she is. And here is Walker’s Timeless Closets, one door down from Walker’s Timeless Treasures in downtown Jonesville, Mich. The two stores are both extensions of a dream conceived by Walker when she was a nurse practitioner, traveling the world as an auditor for the pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s amazing what you pick up on the road,” she said. “I went to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Germany, and I wanted to open a resale shop.”
Each resale shop across the world had its own niche, ranging from hyper-specific emphases on Modern Danish furniture and pre-Communist artifacts to more general collections of odds and ends, Walker said.
And her niche? Affordable Quality.
“There isn’t enough retail around here that offers high-quality items for everyone’s budget. We offer something for everyone.”
Walker’s Timeless Treasures focuses on household items including furniture, dishware, lighting fixtures, and the odd adding machine, antique pipe organ, or stuffed bird.
Walker’s Timeless Closets focuses on vintage and consignment clothing and accessories, reflecting Walker’s personal passion for retro fashion and antique jewelry as well as her original focus. When Walker first opened shop in the back room of the Hillsdale’s Victorian Rose Florist’s Shoppe in February 2011, she mostly sold clothing items.
“We found that we were bursting at the seams and moved to the location in Jonesville. This store is much bigger, but we found that we still didn’t have enough room for the clothing, so we moved all of that to the building next door.”
Available clothing ranges from the antique to the brand-new.
The “vintage” selection consists of more than circle skirts and cropped jackets from the 1950s and 1960s. Walker’s currently boasts of a white lace summer dress from 1890, an Edwardian wedding gown (custom-made in Italy), wool swimsuits, and an original 1920s flapper gown made of diaphanous green silk gauze and glass beads.
Brand-new clothing from Ya and Sacred Threads as well as gently-used items from Express, Ann Taylor, and Talbotts, adorn racks less than three feet away.
“The vintage clothing is really popular, especially with the girls from the college,” Walker said. “You love it. But the jewelry is really popular as well. I personally love antique jewelry. Can’t get enough of it, and I like to share that.”
One-of-a-kind finds including pocket watches, necklaces, rings, decorative combs, and hatpins, crowd the tops of antique dressers and fill a glass display case – once a watch counter in the 1920s, salvaged from some long-gone department store.
A hat stand in the front window displays the fanciful headgear of yesteryear: twists of fur, clusters of ribbon roses, and net veils attached to jaunty satin caps – mostly acquired at local estate sales.
“I’m a member of estatesales.net, so I get notifications about upcoming events,” said Walker. “I also know many of the area auctioneers. They let me know when items come up that I might be interested in.”
Walker takes in the majority of her items on consignment.
“Its always a mystery what we’re going to get in, so that’s fun,” said employee Adrienne Bigelow ’11. “Every day we’ll get more stuff in, at least a few items. We had some really great Jackie O. style dresses about two months ago.”
And along with the items, come the stories.
Many consigners share the history of the pieces that they bring in. When they’re unsure, Walker fills the gaps with research, most of the research is done by her son, John. The Michigan State graduate works at Walkers Timeless Treasures, where he occasionally gives performances on the store’s 130-year-old pump organ.
“He’s always had a keen interest in history,” Walker said. “Some people bring in items just to find out its value and what it is. He also repairs antique clocks.”
When it’s a local item, Walker occasionally around to see if anyone remembers it.
“People just bring some of the strangest things in,” Walker said.
But no matter how strange, it could be just what another Walker’s patron is looking for – and at just the right price.
Scott Schultheis, a builder from Jonesville, “picks” at Walkers Timeless Treasures nearly every Wednesday – what he calls “his Sunday.”
“I love finding little treasures that aren’t too expensive,” he said. “I also do a lot of restoration work, so it’s great to find period pieces and put them to use again.”
Senior Dara Wagenmaker said she’s bought something every time she’s visited Walker’s.
“I haven’t bought any of their vintage pieces – it just doesn’t really fit right with my body type – but I got two Express dresses there for really cheap. And Express is not cheap,” she said. “It’s all in great condition, great brands, and you can get allot of it under ten dollars.”
Walkers Timeless Closets offers an additional 15 percent off on Fridays for all students with a valid student I.D.
“I love seeing people from the college come in,” said Bigelow. “Students, professors … We even get a bunch of guys.”
One bought a powder blue leisure suit – Bigelow thinks it was for Valentines Day.
“There really is something for everyone,” she said.