McIntosh Cottage Antiques is a family business with locations in Georgia. Owner Elizabeth Sheehan started the Columbia location a few years ago. (Photos by Taylor Beltz)
Antique shops in Columbia offer hidden treasures from around the world.
From handcrafted furniture to old toys and yearbooks, the antique stores in Columbia are a way to step into the past.
And antique stores, by their very nature, involve sustainability and the recycling of household goods.
Antiques have been a family affair for shop owner Margaret Causey.
Causey owns the Old Mill Antique Mall in West Columbia and grew up around antiques. Her parents started Old Mill almost 40 years ago.
“They enjoyed going to auctions and things,” Causey said. “And my stepfather was a woodworker. And he started doing refinishing.”
Elizabeth Sheehan owns McIntosh Cottage Antiques, on Beltline Boulevard near Devine Street. Her passion for antiques also started with her parents.
They started McIntosh Cottage Antiques in 1985 in Georgia.
“I love the artistry and the craftsmanship that you see in antiques,” Sheehan said. “And a lot of these pieces, actually almost all of these pieces, were made by a person, not a machine.”
She opened her own shop in Columbia to provide a unique variety of pieces from England and France.
“It’s a cool idea to think that you’ve got something sitting in your living room that once was in a chateau in France that was, you know, made for that chateau in France,” she said.
Sheehan travels to Europe once a year to pick out pieces in person for her store. The pieces are then shipped to the United States on container ships.
Causey, of Old Mill, said she enjoys “everything” about the world of antiques.
“I just enjoy the hunt for items, it’s the biggest part of the fun,” she said. “And of course, pricing them and keeping up with the inventory is the work.”
The hunt is most people’s favorite part of being in the antiques business, said West Columbia shop owner Ruth Anderson
“It’s finding something cool, digging through the boxes and finding the treasure,” Anderson said.
Anderson and her husband Scott opened Three Rivers Antiques eight years ago after working as antique dealers in Pennsylvania.
Sustainability is another important aspect of dealing with antiques.
That means the quality of the pieces is also higher than mass-produced furniture being produced today, Anderson said.
“That bothers me, when the old pieces are sitting here,” she said. “A little bit of love, a little bit of oil brings back the luster and the beauty. And you’ve got something that’s going to serve you so much better.”
Everything can be green.
“We recycle everything, we even use recycled newspaper and plastic bags from customers and all for our packaging,” Old Mill’s Causey said.
Every piece that comes to McIntosh also comes with a story, Sheehan said.
“Just the stories behind it, I think it gives it a little more appeal than the mass-produced pieces,” she said. “Our pieces are real wood and they’re made well. And they’re made to last.”
Anderson loves listening to the stories from other dealers and from people looking for specific items.
“Going out and talking to people who have been collecting for years and years and hearing their stories, that’s the best part,” Anderson said. “But then, on the flip side of that is you, also being the shop owner, love listening to people who say, ‘I’ve been looking for this for years.’”
Sheehan hand picks all of the pieces featured in her store from dealers in England and France.
Sheehan of McIntosh Cottage Antiques said that almost all of her furniture pieces are made by hand.
Four or Five containers are shipped from Europe every year for McIntosh Cottage Antiques.
McIntosh Cottage Antiques also features cookware and books.