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Close Ups: Lincoln Square’s Ravenswood Antique Mart

The Ravenswood Antique Mart is a staple of the Lincoln Square neighborhood, as well as the Midwest, winning critics over at the New York Times for its modern take on antiques and store operation.

Owner John Vlachos has made it his mission that a customer feels the history and appreciates the eras of the products. Vlachos arranges the window displays himself; one in particular is filled with rich color, orange pieces of furniture, a fuzzy white rug, a couple of antique lamps and many decorative statues that pull the ‘60s-like display together.

Once you get past the window display, you will see there is a clear separation of the aisles: countless jewelry cases, a variety of furniture and many decorations to give a home a unique spin. The antiques date as far back as the 1930s all the way up to the 1970s.

“My parents collected antiques and they turned me onto it, it’s been a life passion,” Vlachos said. His calm voice is immediately filled with enthusiasm when he interacts with his customers, calling them by their names when they walk in the door and greeting new ones by giving them knowledge on products they show interest in.

With a large inventory to keep track of, it’s not the history that overwhelms Vlachos, but how much merchandise is on display. He explained Vendors within his store keep inventory on computers. The vendors of the shop collect and buy their own products and are responsible for keeping track of the antiques.

He gave ChicagoTalks a tour of the store, where he can tell you dates, origins and historical significance of his various pieces. His favorite items in the store are the paintings on the walls. He mentioned that the most expensive item is a painting valued at $7,500. Currently the most popular request from customers is Playboy products; he credits the show “Mad Men” for the recent requests of 1960s items.

Vlachos has thought about expanding the store in the future, but in the meantime he is happy where he is and business is going well. This is not a place where the customer stands in line for days waiting for the latest gadget; this is the place where John Vlachos’ customers go to find treasures of the past.

“Old is better,” Vlachos said. “Now things are disposable, craftsmanship was better back then, and these things were made to last.”

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