Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry has always been one of those places on my “Must-See” list since the beginning! The people of Seattle are extremely lucky to have such a high caliber antique and estate jewelry store right in their own local mall! Imagine a day of shopping at Nordstrom picking up a new cute top and some jeans, head over to Ulta and replenish your beauty supplies, all while eating some Auntie Anne’s pretzels…with your final stop being Alana Jewelry to try on their latest arrivals?! That kind of sounds like heaven to me! Not too many antique jewelry stores can provide this kind of experience! As a child, going to the mall held so many memories I can’t imagine if I grew up where a store like this was at my local mall–what an impact that could have had?!
Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry all began with a woman named Alana who started her career without even knowing it by going to garage sales. Her story is incredible and I think she tells it best. So without further ado, here is her story, in her own words:
In my twenties, I found myself with two pre-school children. I didn’t want to put them in daycare and go to work, so I began practicing frugality in our household by going to garage sales for family purchases. At the same time, I made friends with another young mother whose own mother had owned an antique store. She taught me the ropes of buying and re-selling. Soon I saw an ad from a vintage clothing consignment store promising 50%. I found three old dresses from the 20’s for 25 cents each! I took them in, and they sold for $20 each, and I got $30. I was launched! With this mission, I soon filled her store, but started having trouble getting paid. Finally she told me, “You have more stuff in this store than I do. Come get your stuff.” With a living room piled with clothes, I wondered what to do. I decided to rent space in a local flea market to sell. I constructed hanging props from water pipes, and started selling regularly at the flea market. Soon the organizers of antique shows invited me to participate. By then I had branched out to old fur coats and costume jewelry too. One day a visitor to my booth told me that he had a business buying gold off the street, and that I might find some of his stock interesting at the price of gold. Slowly my antique booth began to show more jewelry than clothing. One day a customer asked me, “How much for everything?” I quoted him a price and sold it all! Didn’t have to pack up the booth that weekend. Starting over, I decided to focus on jewelry, as it was much lighter than the clothing and furniture I had sold.
Meanwhile, I had enlisted the back and forth banter of my then teenaged daughter, Heather. She cut her teeth on my customers, and we have made a great team ever since. I was able to watch her and give her a profession to which she is well-suited. I couldn’t have done it without her. I was pretty happy schlepping my stuff to about 8 large antique shows a year.Then I spied an empty storefront at Northgate Mall, close to my home. I proposed that the mall rent it to me for Oct-Dec. 1992. We agreed on a rent of $3K/month. I had hives the day we opened! When I made the rent the first day, the hives disappeared. In January the mall offered the space year round, but I couldn’t imagine being able to pay the rent during the lean months of the year. I returned to my antique shows. The next fall the store was still vacant, so I proposed that they rent it to me again short term. They agreed. By then both my daughter and I were divorced and needed more income than the sporadic antique shows provided. I took a deep breath, signed over my paid-for house to Northgate Mall in case of default, borrowed $250K to remodel the space, and hired a contractor. Three months later, Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry was born. I married the contractor. We soon achieved #1 sales per square foot in the mall, a position we still hold 22 years later. We were named Coolest Small Jewelry Store by Instore Magazine in 2013. I am grateful for an incredibly wonderful staff, and to be able to make a good living doing something I so love. I still find it thrilling!
I hope I will get the chance to visit Seattle and the store soon! All of the pieces featured above are currently for sale in their inventory, which can be seen and purchased online! Check out their website here!!