Nipomo: The new antique destination

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

ShabbyChicShabby Chic and the Nipomo Antique Emporium

The story of an antique is rarely short or simple. Items like brass baby shoes and vintage workbenches, silver candlesticks and vintage lace get passed down through many hands—given from grandfather to grandson on his birthday or sold from one collector to another—before they end up in an antique store display. The whole story of the homes and families an item has seen in its “lifetime” grows with each owner and can often only be guessed at by the purchaser; but this shared history is part of the reason that antiques hold such mystique and appeal.

It is perhaps appropriate then, that when we set out to write about Shabby Chic, a vintage and antique furnishings shop in Nipomo, the owner, Richard Malvarose, informed us that it had been sold. As happens with the many items the shop houses, the store itself caught the attention of a more eager collector, and he made a bid the owner couldn’t refuse.

That high-bidder, as it turns out, is indeed something of a collector of antique stores. Dan MacClain, together with his wife Toni, his 23-year-old daughter Camille and his 16-year-old son Peter, is the owner of the Nipomo Antique Emporium, which he opened in April 2013 for his daughter to help her start her career. And when we spoke to him, MacClain was just days away from hosting the grand opening of a second antique store, the Nipomo Antique Emporium: Mary Street, in addition to the re-opening of Shabby Chic.

“Today is moving day,” MacClain joked as we talked, barely finishing his sentences before switching tones to field questions from movers, customers and cashiers, acknowledging with a smile the constant flux involved with keeping an antique store outfitted. And with the prospect of now helping his kids run three times the number of businesses as last year, it’s a good thing MacClain appears to be such a gifted multi-tasker. Between his family’s three stores, he has to manage more than fifty different vendors, as well as the book keeping, displays, marketing and customer service.

An antique destination

MacClain is thrilled about the two additions, however, saying that with three stores in the same vicinity, Nipomo is well on its way to becoming an antique destination where shoppers can while away an entire afternoon touring the labyrinths of crystal-knobbed dressers, ornate mirrors and statuary. He is especially excited about taking over the unquestionably “cute” Shabby Chic store, which he says the Malvaroses opened four years ago and handled superbly.

A charming cottage home serves as the idyllic backdrop to the collection of items best described by that oft-cited term, “shabby chic”: interior design characterized by the appearance of age and signs of wear and tear—whether real or engineered. And MacVlain says he and his family plan to keep with the theme and the name (now with the added precursor “Nipomo Antique Emporium: Old Town”). The only changes he will make will be to add to the foundation: MacClain says the store will now be open seven days a week (instead of just weekends); he will soon be leasing more space from the lot next door to increase the outdoor garden art and accessories area; and he will be routing some of the main Emporium’s past and new vendors to the store to provide even more of that particular brand of endearingly weathered furniture and accessories.

Bursting with unique vintage pieces

That’s saying a lot, considering that everywhere you look, from the floral and off-white décor in the living room to the wrought-iron bedecked backyard, the sweet little house is already bursting with unique vintage pieces and inspiring ideas for Do-It-Yourself projects. Like the chandelier made from blue-glass Mason jars. Or the darling, chipped and flaking antique window frame, strung with wire and clothes pins to create a quaint, real-life Pinterest board.

At Shabby Chic, new items become old, and old items become new again. It’s this cycling and recycling process that MacVlain says makes his business recession-proof. “When money is tight, then antique’s your bargain,” he says. “When money is flowing, then they buy antiques as a luxury item. So, we’re covered either way.”

And with a price tag of just $15 for a window frame that could easily become the artsy, innovative focal point of a room, these are the kind of luxuries almost anyone can afford.

Check out Shabby Chic at 188 West Tefft St. in Nipomo or call (805) 619-7398 for more info.

— Jamie Relth

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