THE FUTURE ANTIQUES
by Diane Toroain
St. Louis Post Dispatch
August 14, 2009
Photo by David Carson
Mannequin heads model the hats for sale at TFA.
Click here for pictures of the newly renovated storefront.
Visiting the Future Antiques is like walking onto the set of “Mad Men”: martini shakers, ashtrays, fur coats and Danish modern furniture, everything but Luckys and a half-naked secretary.
Indeed when COCA hosted its annual fundraiser with “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, St. Louis’ socialites sent their personal shoppers to TFA for authentic brooches and dresses.
“The quality was great back then,” said TFA manager Michael, who is shy about sharing his last name. “The products were American-made. The furniture was made of solid wood, not compressed particle board. If it has lasted 50 years and still looks that good, it’s a safe bet it’s going to last during your lifetime.”
TFA’s affection for all things vintage extends to Vitrolite, the structural glass that graces the shop’s once-hideous facade.
Popular in art deco and art nouveau architecture, Vitrolite has not been produced domestically for 60 years. Luckily for TFA, premier preservationist Tim Dunn lives in St. Louis and had access to burgundy Vitrolite salvaged from a Nebraska building. TFA’s website chronicles the building’s amazing transformation.
“When we first looked at this building, it was painted concrete gray,” Michael said. “Nothing about it was appealing. But the Vitrolite suits the building’s original design.”
Michael says TFA never wanted to leave South Grand, but a rent spike forced the business out. To Michael’s shock, last year’s Christmas sales were the store’s best. One reason is clearly the building’s sheer size. At 6,000 square feet, customers can actually see the merchandise. On South Grand, displays were stacked to the ceiling.
But Michael also credits Morgan Ford’s groovy vibe.
“The last few years have been phenomenal,” he said. “The pet parade, the new businesses, the improvements to the neighborhood — it’s all coming together.”