What’s weathered and rustic has become new—or at least newly attractive—at Antique Alley and its little sister, Downtown Alley, both in Bridgeville on Sussex County’s western edge. Because of Antique Alley’s location on the southbound lane of U.S. 13, just south of where Route 404 funnels eastbound traffic, both tourists and locals rub shoulders through winding corridors in search of perfect-for-them vintage regional home décor pieces.
With the cavernous space housing 70 vendors in 128 booths, Antique Alley is a literal maze of curiosity shops. Looking for rustic—and chicly rusted—household hardware, from doorknobs to switch plates for lights? How about vintage tools waiting to be morphed into country chic? They’re here. In a nearby booth, rainbow Pyrex bowls lines shelves. Just around the corner, working decoys burnished from early mornings spent in the marsh await a new spot on a mantel.
The business, boosted by popular TV shows and Pinterest boards, took on new life after Jane Houghton decided she needed a career change four years ago. The former bookkeeper purchased what was then a 26,000-square-foot building fronting the highway, spruced it up and added on, putting her shop on the Delaware Antique Trail map.
An arrow in Antique Alley’s parking lot directs customers downtown to the smaller Downtown Alley Antiques on Market Street, where booths overflow with collectibles—including child-size metal roller skates dating back to the 1950s—as well as highly sought-after vintage dolls.
Vendor Cindy Small says the appeal is constant, unlike the potential treasures: “Booths change their merchandise every week.”
Antique Alley of Bridgeville, 18208 Sussex Highway, Bridgeville, antiquealleyde.com. Downtown Alley Antiques, 112 Market St., Bridgeville, facebook.com/downtownalleybridgeville. Visit antiques.com to see listings for other antique shops in the area.
Published as “Antiques Roadside Show” in the March 2020 issue of Delaware Today magazine.