Antique Alley

In Karen Laban by Lola Magazine

I get asked all the time “Where are you from?” Guess I do not sound southern? I am originally from Monroe and graduated from Wossman High School way back. After serving 8 years in the United States Air Force, and completing my degree in accounting, I worked as a certified public accountant for a land development and residential construction company for 13 years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

When my husband and I made a decision to move back to Louisiana, I was inspired to do something new and, when presented with the option to open my own business, I knew I had found the perfect opportunity with The Spice & Tea Exchange®. From the spices and teas we sell to the design of the store itself, everything about The Spice & Tea Exchange® screams Antique Alley. It really is a perfect fit for the West Monroe community.

Seven years later, we are still excited about Antique Alley due to its rich history and its Merchants Association. Recently I’ve been a part of the Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group, and we put together a Historic Walking Tour for the downtown. Lots of changes have happened since the founding in the early 1800s; however, West Monroe has continued to have a thriving downtown. The Cotton Port Historic District in Downtown West Monroe is more commonly known today as Antique Alley. The Antique Alley Merchant’s Association was formed in 1987 with a group of just 6 merchants who wanted to support each other through advertising. Today Antique Alley has more boutiques than antiques; however, our selection of shops allows you to find items from past and present.

Let me take you on a stroll down Antique Alley, and I’m sure you’ll be ready to spend the day shopping, dining, exploring, or walking through history. Caution, it may take more than one day! Thankfully, we have a B&B here on the Alley!

Start your day at Miss Kay’s Sweets & Eats to enjoy breakfast! Miss Kay Robertson of Duck Dynasty shares her homemade recipes at her family owned bakery! Her granddaughter Alex and husband Vinny are usually in the kitchen working alongside staff to serve up items like Phil’s Famous Pralines, cookies, cakes, pies, and much more! They now are serving lunch as well, so stop by here any time of day to enjoy the fresh goodies.

Just next door, head over to Cotton Port Antique Mall with over 20 dealers. They have items including primitives, shabby chic, glassware, pottery, baseball cards, and antique advertising signs, books, records, jewelry, vintage sterling, furniture and other collectibles. Ben and Suzie Cooper are sure to have something for you.

Take a short stroll to the Rialto Antique Market and step back in history. Originally opening in 1934 as a 450-seat theater, The Rialto later became part of a small chain of movie theaters operated by West Monroe resident Joseph M. Heard. The original ticket booth and original movie camera adorn the entrance. While there, shop fine English, French and American antique furniture and collectibles, including vintage and costume jewelry, glassware, books, silver, linens, chandeliers, and decorative accessories and art. Be sure to check out both floors!

Maybe you are looking for something different and off the beaten path? Try Imperial Galleries, America’s largest authorized Lampe Berger dealer, offering all official Lampe Berger products, including fragrance lamps, fragrances and accessories. The owners also carry a large selection of jade and ivory carvings, Lady Primrose, Jim Shore, art and more.

Ladies, if the men are already tired of shopping, have them take a seat on one of the many benches recently donated by the City of West Monroe and the Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group. They can enjoy the street music, flowing flowers and hopefully a breeze and shade.

Next up is Traditions, and when they say “their ship has come in,” they are speaking literally! Owners Pam Liles and Pam Wood travel twice a year to Europe to personally select fine antiques from France, England, Belgium and Holland. They have 18th and 19th Century furniture, Majolica, French pottery, leather books and decorative accents. If you are looking for a special item, let them bring it back special for you!

By now you are probably in the mood for something new. Walsworth & Company is a must stop! Their furniture and home décor lines include Wesley Allen, McKinley Leather Sofas, Southern Furniture Co., Surya Rugs, and bedding. The ladies can help with furniture placement and design. Did I mention they also have a bridal registry? They carry a variety of gifts and jewelry from Ronaldo, Marina and Waxing Poetic.

Keep strolling to Memory Lane, where owners Ed and Virginia Pettis personally select antiques from the New England area and drive them home to share with our community. Their store features furniture, collectible glassware, sports memorabilia, and the largest selection of old books in the area.

If it feels like time for lunch, then you should head over to Kayla’s Kitchen for her plate lunch specials. Kayla serves up great home cooking daily. She also caters for all occasions.

After lunch, check out The Wood Gallery on Trenton with custom hand-crafted wood chopping blocks, cutting boards and jewelry. Owner Gaylon Perry features his “The Wooden Beaux,” which are hand-crafted Beaux Ties from exotic woods.

We can now head back to Trenton Street Antiques, featuring two completely different realms of the Alley. First up is Flying Cowboy at Trenton Street Antiques featuring diamond and colored-stone estate jewelry, pocket watches, furniture, cut-glass clocks, sterling, Newcomb College, Clementine Hunter, A.J. Drysdale Art and more. If you are looking to buy or sell gold, Mike McMahan is the person to see! Be sure to go all the way to the back and check out the large selection of vintage tools and clocks.

The Vintage Market at Trenton Street Antiques is happy living with the tarnish. The shabby chic and vintage furniture, gifts and accessories sit alongside the antiques. For all your Catholic religious items, books and more, you can also find Spats Gifts & Books.

The ladies by now are ready for some boutiques, and next on your stop is Rusty Nails and Pearls Boutique. Norma Rice is there daily in her fun boutique catering to women of all ages with the accessories to match. She also loves distressing furniture and carries all the pieces she works on in the back of her shop. Check out the Woodwick Candles, gift items and more!

Southern Style Antiques Gift & Salon offers a spacious multi-dealer shop with an eclectic mix of old and new treasures. While inside make an appointment with Cathy Dage, who has her hair salon inside. Military memorabilia is the focus of Jackie’s Collectibles, which also carries antique lamps and furniture. Jackie says he’s available anytime, just call!

For more home décor and lady’s accessories check out Hoot N Hollar! It is definitely a Hoot! The ladies just rolled out their bath bombs. They carry women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, home décor, DIY Chalk Paint and more. Their décor changes with the season, so stop by to decorate for the holidays.

If you are in need of a workout, then stop in to If The Crown Fits. One of our newest stores, they offer active wear, fitness apparel, and scripture tees. They love keeping their style sporty and unique. They also have pop-up yoga and fitness classes.

Next door is Free Birds Boutique, a funky boutique for ladies of all sizes! Leslie King shares her style with Band Retro Apparel, shoes, purses and specialty candles. She also carries a selection of locally made jewelry.

Gosh, we’ve only made it about two blocks and down just one side of the street and now I’m ready to eat again! Let’s head to Roma’s Italian Bistro, a family owned and operated authentic Italian restaurant with cuisine prepared fresh and cooked to order. They can cater any occasion!

It’s getting late in the day and hopefully you already booked your room at Hamilton House Inn & Reception Gallery. The Hamilton family spent three years renovating the rustic Webb Hotel into a luxury five room Bed and Breakfast Inn. All rooms have private baths and lavish memory-foam mattresses. Tonya Hamilton cooks up a delicious breakfast using some of her favorite spices from my store, so you are getting a true taste of downtown! There is also a reception area available for weddings and events.

After a good night’s rest and those delicious scones, start today at Coco’s Mercantile, featuring linens for your bed, bath and tables. The selection of home décor and furniture including Dash & Albert rugs, European soaps, Seda France, and Barefoot Dreams highlights owner Anne Cookston’s eclectic style. She features local artists year-round and hosts different artist in her shop during the bi-monthly Downtown Art Crawl.

At Eleven 26 Boutique, Jessica Pollard and her team can style you with the latest trends of clothing, shoes and accessories at affordable prices. From homecoming to holiday parties, you are sure to find what you are looking for. Be sure to say hello to Miss Ellie, one of the street’s favorite shop dogs!

Still time for more antiquing? Potpourri de Tante Marie is owned by one of the founders of Antique Alley. Miss Mary’s store features a variety of antique 1920-1940 and mid-century modern era furnishings, plus vintage tools from farms, ranches and garages. She also carries The Natchez Solution and Nevr Dull products.

If handcrafts are more your style, Malcomb’s Woodcrafts & Treasures has a selection of woodcrafts made personally by owner Bobby. Check out a selection of purses, wallets, jewelry, luggage, caps, scarves and gifts. There is also a little snack bar in the back if you need a pick me up.

Need something for the kids? The Mother Hen has children’s clothing sizes newborn to tween. She offers monogramming and unique gifts. A baby shower registry is available.

If a mature style, is desired then Bent Oaks Boutique should be your stop. This ladies’ boutique offers a large selection of linen clothing, unique and stylish fashions. You need to check out the back where you will find Fenton Art Glass, jewelry and more!

It’s not even open yet and we are all talking about The Trenton House! Moving to their new location this fall, they will finally be on Trenton Street! They are the area’s most complete bridal registry, and they also feature gift items including candles, bath products, gourmet foods, Louisiana items, and pewter. Their current location is only a few blocks from the Alley.

If it’s Louisiana flavor you’re looking for, then walk right in to The Rustique Gator. With their Cajun music playing, you will start dancing the minute you walk through the door. Troy is crazy about his boudin, spices, and hot sauces. Everything in this store shouts Louisiana, from home and kitchen décor, t-shirts, Mardi Gras beads, local souvenirs and novelties. Step into the side room and sit on the front porch for a quick photo op.

With fashion-forward looks at affordable prices, The Nude Nomad is a women’s boutique for all ages, offering unique clothing shoes and accessories from across the globe. It’s located in the original Lee’s Jewelry Store and Madison gets visitors all the time who just want to check out the original jewelry safe. Stop by for your own selfie!

At Lovabella MelangeMélange speaks to their variety from custom-painted furniture, both mid-century and antique, vintage crystal and glass, local artists, whimsical décor, doors, windows, collectibles, Louisiana souvenirs, and much more. I think you get the idea!

What can you create with 100-year-old wood? The master crafters at Mayo Custom Interiors create antique wood art, vintage-style furniture and unique wooden gifts. Nature is beautifully frozen in time with these one-of-a-kind pieces. This store is really one of those “you just have to see it for yourself” places.

Did someone say it’s time to eat again? This feels like a great time to head over to Trapp’s for some fresh Cajun food. Enjoy the scenery overlooking the beautiful Ouachita River while enjoying the best Cajun food in town!   Depending on the time of day you might be able to catch a local band playing music on the lower deck.

Our favorite time of the year Christmas on The River! Working in conjunction with the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau and their many sponsors, we spend our time to help coordinate events and to further promote Downtown West Monroe. Everything on your shopping list can be found on Antique Alley. Come celebrate the season and shop with us!

Oh wait, did I even tell you about my store? Beyond the esthetic connection between The Spice & Tea Exchange® and the historic neighborhood of our location, our store also connects with the tight-knit community through our extensive outreach. Our customers are immediately immersed in a sensory experience where they can explore, open the jars and smell, and speak with knowledgeable staff who truly love what they do. We enjoy swapping good recipes and fun stories. You’ll typically find us hand-mixing our custom blends and seasonings right in the store, bagging our teas, or putting together unique gifts for our guests. Remember, food really is best when it’s shared with others, and we practice that philosophy at our store. Come and Explore the Spiceabilities! We are located at 229 Trenton Street West Monroe. In the heart of Antique Alley!