5 unique vintage and antique stores in Syracuse

5 unique vintage and antique stores in Syracuse

Shoppers can uncover hidden gems among the jewelry, furniture and oddities in these local shops.
Published: October 5, 2021 | Updated: October 13th, 2021 at 12:08 pm
The interior of Behind the Iron Gates in Syracuse, NY
Items on display at Behind the Iron Gates in Syracuse's Tipperary Hill neighborhood.

There’s nothing more freeing than finally having the chance to decorate your own space and pick out your own clothes. Moving away to college gives many students the first chance to experiment with their individual styles and interior design.

Why not stop into a vintage store for storied items that no one else has? Here are five vintage stores around Syracuse that are worth paying a visit.

 

Syracuse Antiques Exchange co-owner Matt Pastore stands among furniture in the store
Syracuse Antiques Exchange co-owner Matthew Pastore stands among furniture in the store.

Syracuse Antiques Exchange

1629 North Salina Street Syracuse, NY 13208

Syracuse Antiques Exchange is the ultimate paradise for vintage and antique lovers. The massive four-story building has something for everyone: Midcentury and Victorian furniture, clocks, books, vinyl, jewelry, clothing and oddities. Antique and vintage vendors rent space and the SAE staff facilitate the sale of items to customers. Matthew Pastore, one of the co-owners, said everyone who comes in usually walks out with something. We have everything from three-dollar salt and pepper shakers to very affordable vintage clothing to fine antique pieces and things that are in the thousand-dollar range,” he said.

What sets them apart: Syracuse Antiques Exchange brings in dealers that are “focused on finding vintage and antique stuff, kind of, out in the wild,” Pastore said. “Estate sells auctions, Facebook marketplace, any of those types of things.”

A room full of objects in Antique Underground in Syracuse NY
The Antique Underground collects a variety of objects to evoke feelings of nostalgia across customers of different generations.

Antique Underground

124 East Jefferson Street Syracuse, NY 13202

Owner Bruce Block’s first career was as a modern dancer in New York City. The 76-year-old dabbled in antiques during his summers off, and decided this was to be his next phase in life. Antique Underground was just re-opened in 2020 after it had been closed for 20 years. Block carries furniture, artwork, ceramics and more for every price point. He recognizes the memories involved in the items he sells. “That’s kind of the way the business evolves,” he said. “You go from one generation’s childhood to another generation’s childhood. And it seems that there’s a great element of nostalgia in antique buying and collecting.” Block said shopping for vintage and antique items should be an adventure.

What sets them apart: International items. “I’m always buying things in other countries,” Block said. “It adds a very different perspective on an antique store in Syracuse when you have that kind of variety.”

Interior of The Cherry Pit in Syracuse, NY
String lights illuminate The Cherry Pit's diverse display of clothing.

The Cherry Pit

217 1/2 S. Salina Street Syracuse, NY 13202

Nestled in the basement of Wildflowers Armory, sits The Cherry Pit. This vintage clothing store is among other vendors within McCarthy Mercantile. They carry vintage men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories and home goods. Abigail Minicozzi, Michelle Pfaff, and Alexandria Panek co-own the small but cozy store which opened in February 2021. Minicozzi advocates for the individuality of shopping vintage because “it’s just a style that no one else is going to have.” The women also host clothing swaps where customers bring clothes and can, in turn, take as many garments as they bring. This is a fun way to reduce fast fashion and clothing waste, said Minicozzi in an email. The owners know their clientele and keep it affordable. “It’s a college town and we want college kids to be able to afford it,” Minicozzi said. “But we also want it to be style inclusive. So we all have very different styles that work well together.” 

What sets them apart: An entirely female-owned small business that’s intentionally size and price inclusive.

A room filled with colored glass in Behind the Iron Gates in Syracuse, NY Text
Behind the Iron Gates is filled to the brim with intricate items attracting people in search of everything from jewelry to kitchen ware.

Behind the Iron Gates

1818 West Genesee St. Syracuse, NY 13204 and 209 County Rt. 57 Phoenix, NY 13135

Selma Adydan opened Behind the Iron Gates 18 years ago in a whimsical 21-room 1886 Victorian mansion. Her collection had outgrown the previous location, said assistant manager Jamie Adydan in an email. The tightly packed yet expansive store carries antique home furnishings, vintage clothing, estate jewelry, primitives, 50s kitchen memorabilia and linens. They boast a broad clientele base, from private collectors, students and new homeowners to retirees and movie studios, said Adydan. The affordable vintage clothing and fine jewelry, as well as sturdy household items like lamps, linens, furniture, attract SU students furnishing first-time apartments.

Adydan loves the nostalgia and memories associated with their items. “One of my personal favorites, as far as emotional reactions, is when someone walks in and gets excited when they recognize their grandmother’s mixing bowls or mom’s Christmas china,” she said.

What sets them apart: They will buy your gold, silver, platinum, coin collections and more.

The interior of Scholars & Champs in Syracuse, NY
Vintage Syracuse merchandise lines the walls of proud owner Bert Aufsesser's retail shop.

Scholars & Champs

310 S Salina St, Syracuse, NY 13202

Colorful T-shirts and sweatshirts line the walls of Scholars & Champs while the lower tables hold neatly organized hats, sports memorabilia, and jerseys.  There’s baseball, basketball, and football-themed items as well as a Harley Davidson, music and fashion section. Owned and operated by 2010 SU grad Bert Aufsesser, Scholars & Champs opened in 2019. Aufsesser worked at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles before coming back to Syracuse and opening the downtown store. His high-end retail knowledge gives customers a boutique-like experience with the friendliness of a neighborhood store.

When sourcing his vintage finds, Aufsesser has eyes and ears around Central New York to locate quality items. We just have the most Syracuse merchandise you can’t find anywhere else,” he said “It’s all curated just for you. You don’t have to sift through a hundred shirts to find the one you like or you don’t have to outbid someone on eBay.

What sets them apart: A boutique shopping experience with a high level of service and merchandizing.

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is a digital producer for The NewsHouse as well as a journalist, critic, and writer.