Have you ever wondered where you can find the best “junk?” I’m talking about, antiques, thrifted pieces, furniture, and treasures. Have you ever wanted to stop at all of the places that you see on the side of the road as you pass, but you don’t have the time? Well designer Jenny and I decided that it was time to do just that. We have many clients that want antiques, and beautiful curated pieces of art for their homes, so this was a chance to find some of those pieces, shop a bit for ourselves, and explore the area.
We have been talking forever about hitting the road and creating a “road map” if you will, for the best places to stop and shop down Hwy 44 just outside of St. Louis all the way to Branson, Missouri. Our thought was that we would hit as many places as we could and stay at Big Cedar Lodge. I had never been to Big Cedar, and Jenny absolutely loves it, so I was in. Holy Smokes, if you haven’t been, get moving on making that reservation! It is completely fabulous. There are literally dozens of spots to stop, and if you want to find the best loot, this little road trip will share the places that we found to be the best. Be aware that there are many places that we missed, but don’t get offended antique shop owners, we are just two gals, and we had just three days. Hold on to your hats, this is a long one!!!
The Journey Begins: Day One
We left home at 9:00 AM and headed out on the open road. OK, that sounds glamorous, but really it’s not. Jenny left a husband with kidney stones and three kids, and I left a husband and one kid who was in online school hell, with scads of homework. But today was the day. We began by doing what all gals would do and asked google maps for “antique stores near me.” What did we do before google made things so easy?
I was the navigator and Jenny the driver. She was not impressed with my navigation skills, and I was not impressed with her delayed requests, as in, we just passed an exit and she’d yell “oh wait, was there one there that we missed?” Not gonna lie, that did happen a few times, but nonetheless we made it to our first stop, and laughed a lot in the process. The list below contains the places that we hit in the order that we hit them. I will share a few notes about each store and what we found to be special, or not so special. We also discovered that there is already an huge guide to antiques down 44, but it includes everything. However, we know that no one has time to waste on the bad spots, so we are sharing our thoughts only on the ones we went to. There is a site called “Antiquing We Go” but it is not a useful website, however the brochure is. We got it at the second shop that we visited.
In honor of our favorite stop on the trip, which you will read about next, I am going to rate each shop in “crocks!” Five crocks is the best, moving down from there, so pay attention!
Day 1: Half Crocked Antiques: Exit 218
Just off 44 at exit 218 we encountered Half Crocked Antiques and let me tell you, it was spectacular. There were so many incredible booths, really great vintage pieces, it was clean and organized, and there was not too much “junk” as in the trinket type of junk. The lady running the desk also told us that the weekend of September 19th they have a HUGE outdoor flea market with countless vendors. Head there, friends. It’s a quick drive, and we left with some really great pieces. I’m sure the fair will be amazing. We loved this shop and it was interesting that out of every place that we visited, this was in the top two, and it was the closest to St. Louis. We give it: 5 Crocks (of course)
Lone Star Antiques: Exit 208
Lone Star was a good, fairly large, and housed what they refer to as “early country primitives.” We saw a lot. Loads of crocks, baskets, barn stars, and such. We didn’t buy anything here, but it’s worth the stop. We give it: 4 Crocks
Two Old Crows Antiques: Exit 208
Two Old Crows was just next to Lone Star and it was filled with lots of tin can items, and old soda shop paraphernalia . We also saw tons of cast iron, great frames, and fun “camp” stuff. We were pleased with the stop and would recommend taking the exit. We give it: 4 Crocks
Next, was a very quick little stop that we made when we saw a ginormous sign for Totem Pole Trading Post. I’m not giving it a heading of it’s own because, although it claims to be Missouri’s oldest business, it’s a little junk shop with not much in it. The man working was very nice, and there were cool pictures of the building hanging on the wall that showed the changes since 1933, but that was about it. Back in the car we hopped, and we were on our way to stop number 5. We give it: 1 Crock
Piney River Antiques: Exit 179
Piney River Antiques was very much a trinket type shop. It claims to be oil and gas vintage, and kitchen items, and we agree. It was voted one of the best in 2018, so the brochure says, but it was just ok. Mind you, it probably depends on the day as to what treasures you will find. We give it: 3 Crocks
Onward and upward to our next stop!
Heartland Antique Mall: Exit 127
Heartland Antique Mall was awesome. It is a huge place. They had lots of great art, unique pieces, books, kitchen items, dishes, and so much more. It is located next to a candy shop and also a cheese shop, so that was fun as well. We left there with some beautiful art, a bull terrier door stop for me, and a few other miscellaneous pieces. It is worth the stop for sure. We give it: 5 Crocks
Once we left Heartland we wanted to find somewhere to grab lunch. We had been on the road for quite some time and Waffle house was calling our name. It’s amazing the discoveries you will find on a road trip, and after all of these years being friends how did we NOT know that we both have a great affinity for the cheap, diner breakfasts of Waffle House!! LOVE IT!! We were refueled and back on the road.
Antique Mercantile: Exit 100
The last stop for the day was Antique Mercantile. It is a large store that has beautiful glass cases when you come in. It had lots of lovely hats and furs, which Jenny modeled, so that was fun. This stop was filled with great tins, kitchen ware, china, lovely doll houses, vintage sporting equipment, and the prettiest scale ever. We wish we had somewhere to put it. Put this one on your list for sure. We give it: 4 Crocks
Day one shopping ended after about eight and a half hours on the road, and we continued on to Big Cedar. We took a detour on a back road because of an accident, and it was such a pretty stretch through the country. Here are a few pictures from the detour. Road trips really can be magical.
Big Cedar is a wonderful place to stay and in the words of founder Johnny Morris,
“Big Cedar Lodge is a tribute to the magnificence of nature, the solidarity of history and the joy of family. ”
– JOHNNY MORRIS
This couldn’t be a truer statement. If you love great design, architecture, and being in a place where every single detail is executed to perfection, then you don’t want to miss out. The entire resort is a tribute to country, family connections, and preserving history. I have no idea who his team was, but they were rock stars! It is just incredible. It boasts great accommodations in all price points, fabulous food and drinks, shopping, golf, golf cart rides through the hills and a cave, and the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum that contains the largest collection of Native American art, and artifacts in the country. It was truly one of the best museums I have ever been to.
Another beautiful and touching display that we encountered at the resort was a tribute to those lost in 9/11. It was such a spectacular way to honor our fallen heroes and those whose lives were taken in the attack.
Day one was a great success, and ended with both of us tired, but so delighted with all of our great finds. We relaxed briefly, got cleaned up, and headed to dinner at Devil’s Pool, followed by music and cocktails at the Buzzard Bar. It was a great ending to the day. Here are some shots we took at Big Cedar. It really is a breathtaking property.
Nixa US-65 Exit 14: Day Two
Nixa is a small town that hosts loads of not only antique shops, but also some great spots with newer items to please any shopper. The ones we chose were all clustered together so it was very convenient The first spot that we stopped at was Camp Flea.
Camp Flea had some really cute displays, but also many isles of trinkets and such. Our favorite moment was when Jenny was trying on chaps. She is obsessed with the Wild West, and every where we went she managed to spy something that was fun to try on. The best part was that neither of us have a clue as to how chaps work, and we were in hysterics. Fun times. We give it: 3 Crocks
Boomland Square Gifts and Home Décor:
Boomland was good. It had many items both new and old. We had fun walking through and it is worth the stop. We give it: 4 Crocks
Ozark Antiques and Collectibles:
This is a cool shop. It is filled with lots of vintage, outdoor items; including fishing, hunting, camping, and lodge-like goods. We especially loved the gorgeous canoe. We give it: 3 Crocks
Ok, so Valley 65 is definitely in our top 2 of the trip. It was completely fabulous. It is filled with wonderful furniture, in fact the most of any other stop we made, gorgeous vintage china, including my favorite Flow Blue, and so many curated pieces. This was a shop that we went back to on day three because we were a little tired and missed a lot. I really loved a platter, but didn’t buy it on day two. I realized the error of my ways and we headed back. Boy were we glad that we did. We found so much more with fresh eyes on day three. You must stop here for sure. We give it: 5 Crocks
The Avant Garde’n Upscale Resale:
This is a super cute space filled with old and new items. I found some wonderful books here, I’m a book junky, and loved seeing so many colors and sizes at various stops. The downside upon getting home was that my son pointed out that one of the books I bought had swastikas on the spine. I guess I should put on my glasses when picking things out. I was horrified, but then realized that this was actually an Indian set of short stories. One little quick history lesson, the swastika was actually originally a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, until it was hijacked by the Nazi’s. So although I wasn’t happy about the fact that I missed this, at least I hadn’t bought a Nazi book. Gah, I need to be more critical in my purchasing. We give it: 3 Crocks
The Little Bluebird
The Little Bluebird was a shop with booths from individual artisans and there was a lot to offer. We saw some really pretty things, and in the end Jenny bought two really cute clothing items and we went on our way as this was the last stop of day 2. We give it: 4 Crocks
We loved our time in Nixa and it is a must do on your trip.
Some other great highlights from day two were a golf cart ride through the gorgeous scenery complete with cocktails in the “Bat Bar” as you pulled through the cave, shopping at the resort, and dinner at Top of the Rock, which even in the rain, was spectacular. We both bought new Pendleton blankets, and I bought a hand made wooden serving tray that is gorgeous.
Wrapping Things Up: Day Three
Well unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and day three arrived. We finished our time at Big Cedar with our museum visit I mentioned above, a stop back in Nixa at Valley 65, which was a great choice, lunch at Lamberts Home of the Throwed Rolls, and a detour to Uranus Fudge Factory and Gift Shop.
Jenny and I had a great lunch with all sorts of home cooked goodies and I took home a huge cinnamon roll for my boys. Lambert’s is nostalgic and fun, and it’s worth the stop on your trip.
Once lunch was done, we headed on over to another stop we had always seen, but never visited.
This place is as hysterical as the name. There were so many totally inappropriate signs and statements that had us laughing constantly. One of my favorites, was “what happens in Uranus, stays in Uranus!” Ha… still laughing. We went into the creepy little museum, bought, fudge, with which they said, “thank you for letting us pack fudge in Uranus!” Again, roaring with laughter. This was a stop that we are glad that we did, super fun.
The final stop on our journey was Rolla Antique Mall.
Rolla Antique Mall: Exit 189
This was a huge place. The parking lot was full, and we were excited. However, the excitement was soon filled with disappointment because it was a serious hot mess of junk. This was not good junk, it was junky junk. I imagine if we had dug a little we may have found a few things, but in the words of Jenny,
” Well if you want a panda bear dressed as Santa, you’re too late, some lady just bought both of them!”
That was about the extent of our time there. We had a good laugh and headed home. We give it: 1 crock.
Here are a few things that I highly recommend. Plan a trip with your best friends. In all the chaos of the world right now, it does a body good. Laugh, drink, eat great food, breathe in the incredible beauty of nature, and the landscape around you. Visit museums, and have the best time with those you love.
Two girls on a junk hunt, we both agree, was the best time ever. The hunt is always the most fun! I discovered that Jenny’s superpower is to make people find there inner shopper. I have never been a huge shopper, but she is a master! I burned a huge hole in my wallet without any regret. It was serious shopping therapy.
Hopefully this gives you a great little guide to the perfect weekend or mid week jaunt. We can’t wait to share how we used all of the pieces we purchased coming soon. Look out for those 5 Crock stores, you’ll be so glad you stopped.
For more about what we do for our clients head to Karrbick.com