A Pedacito of The Jesse James Antique Mall in St. Joseph, Missouri
Updated: Jun 19
I was born into a middle-class family. Growing up, we couldn’t afford most designer bags, clothes, or shoes that some of my richer friends could, and it was a bit of a sore spot for me. It took a long time for me to be comfortable in my own skin and realize that what you own doesn’t define you. You have to make your own fashion.
It was around my mid-teens that I heard ‘comfortably numb’ by Pink Floyd and it changed everything. A whole new world of music was opened up to me, I’m embarrassed to say, up to that point, I’d been really into boy bands. I quickly became obsessed with psychedelic rock, blues, and jazz, and the whole ‘60s, ‘70s retro funk, hippie vibe became my permanent aesthetic/obsession. I was no longer into current fashion, I only liked Boho chic and retro.
The kind of stuff I liked I could only find at thrift stores and flea markets. Pakistan has a few really great flea markets and they are like a new adventure each week, you never see the same thing twice. I would furnish my entire wardrobe from these flea markets and get so many compliments on my sense of style.
I loved it because it was distinctive and cheap! I wore it like a badge of honor, the fact that I had bargained and got this cute piece for almost nothing at all. Getting something nice for a lot of money isn’t hard. But getting something nice that looks expensive but isn’t, now that takes talent. I became a staple at flea markets and thrift stores.
When I moved to Lahore to live on my own, my entire apartment was furnished with flea markets and used furniture store finds. I re-purposed, repainted, and fixed a lot of things that ended up looking amazing.
Even as my financial situation improved by leaps and bounds, I still found myself addicted to flea markets. In fact, it’s still one of our favorite things to do, my husband’s and mine. We love going to thrift stores and antique malls. Almost everything I’ve bought in the States that isn’t skincare, makeup, or underwear has been from thrift stores. Every time we got to a new city, our first instinct is to try local street food and visit thrift and antique stores.
One of our favorite ones is the Jesse James Antique Mall in St. Joseph, MO. It’s a family-owned business that has been around since 1997. With 110 booths, 160 showcases, and 40 small shelves, it covers about 20,000 square feet of space.
We go there at least once a month. My husband is obsessed with classic comic books, he buys them at auctions, book stores, flea markets, antique shops, wherever he can get his hands on them. And he’s found a few valuable ones at this store.
Sellers can either rent an entire booth or just a shelf or two, depending on how much stuff they have to sell. The store is divided into two sections, there’s the Rusty Chandelier which contains rustic furniture, mirrors, light fixtures, and big bulky items, as well as handcrafted jewelry, pins, knitted scarves, and jams, and jellies.
If you were planning a bohemian, outdoor wedding, you could furnish your entire wedding with items bought from here, even down to the centerpieces and hand-made place cards.
The antique mall caters to people looking for actual antiques. Here you can find old baseball cards, action figures, toys, games, vinyls, posters, comics, magazines, books, art, figurines, crockery, pretty much anything you can think of.
There’s a whole section dedicated to jewelry; rings, necklaces, earrings, brooches, bangles, pendants. Whether you like chunky stone jewelry or a delicate silver set with semi-precious stones, you will find something to your liking in their selection. This is one of my favorite sections, some of the chunkier jewelry is exactly my style.
They have many different kinds of wooden carvings; faces, various animals, random shapes, large and small. Whole shelves filled with wooden carvings.
Their books collection is interesting too, the paperbacks can be hit or miss, but the leather-bound hardcovers are a real treat, entire works of such greats as Moliere, Henry James, Plato, Shakespeare, it’s less eclectic and more random, but I’ve always found something worth spending on here.
If you’re ever in St. Joseph, MO, you should definitely check the store out. What’s your favorite find from an antique shop or thrift store? Let me know in the comments.
All photos courtesy Jon Aley (IG @jaley1).
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