by Sandra Stringer
At the Terrace Oaks Antique Mall on a sunny afternoon, Camille Wish and Tricia Greenberg welcome customers with wide smiles. On the counter are cookies and coffee, and Camille’s dog Luna wags happily behind the counter.
The Antique Mall carries items from the 1700s up to the 1960s and even early 1970s.
The large two story building is full to the brim with vintage clothes, toys, jewelry, silver, art, furniture, books, military and sports memorabilia and so much more.
Antiques in the blood
Camille Wish has been the owner of the Terrace Oaks Antique Mall for almost twelve years, but she started there as a dealer in 1988.
“My parents always liked antiques. We inherited antiques. My Dad liked to refinish furniture, so when he was doing some traveling he would always bring something back home…it’s just kind of in the blood I guess.”
Camille is the third owner of the Antique Mall, which she purchased in 2005.
She went to the College of Charleston and graduated with a degree in business. Her first job out of college was as a bank teller.
During that first year out of college, she and her family started setting up at the antique shows at the Gaillard in downtown Charleston every month.
She sold antiques for over a decade in conjunction with working at several different banks over the years. “There came a point when I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere in the banking industry. I loved doing the antiques.”
So she quit her bank job and started working as an antique dealer full time. “I loved it…never got bored. There’s always something new coming around, there’s always something to learn…there’s just such a vast variety of antiques out there, whether it’s furniture or glassware or jewelry or books or pottery…or whatever, it’s just amazing what’s out there.”
Appreciating history and beauty
Her own historical knowledge is constantly being added to in her work. “The research, I have to say, is probably what most antique dealers like to do. A lot of times you’ll buy a mystery item because it just talks to you, so to speak. You go and do whatever research you can on it and find out whatever you can about it.”
The research was even more difficult before the internet, as books, libraries, and talking to other dealers was often the only source of information to discover the provenance of an item.
When asked about something cool that had recently come through the store, she talked about a recent furniture acquisition.
A dealer brought in an Art Deco bedroom suite. “It had the bakelite handles and what they call waterfall design. It had the vanity with the big round mirror and a stool.” There was a full bed, a chest of drawers, and “I guess you’d call it an armoire although the center had drawers, the top and the center lifted up and the two sides opened up and that’s where you would hang clothes. It was all cedar lined. Immaculate condition. It was beautiful. It was only here two weeks before it went out the door.”
The dealers and the regulars
Dealers rent space and the Antique Mall gets paid a commission on the items sold. They don’t have to be present to sell their items. That is the job of the Antique Mall staff.
Camille has three managers plus herself. Many of the dealers also work at the store towards a reduction in their rental cost. Camille noted, “It’s good to be here because you find out what people are looking for and asking for.”
If a customer is looking for a particular item, the Antique Mall keeps a wish/want book for people to put in their requests.
She has regulars who come in routinely. Some customers come in “just to chill out for a while” and look and see what’s new.
A warm and happy place to work and visit
Camille works hard to create a “happy vibe” and believes that greeting people and providing a happy, relaxed atmosphere is extremely important. “To me antiques are very…warm feeling. I love going into an antique store anywhere, no matter where I am.”
“Even if you don’t like antiques, we have one of the best varieties in the Charleston area of estate jewelry,” and Camille believes it’s the best collection of estate jewelry to be found locally.
“We have a wonderful array of sterling silver, as well as flatware, hollowware…we have major jewelry stores in Charleston who send people here to get their flatware because they just don’t carry it anywhere but here.”
The Terrace Oaks Antique Mall is located at 2037 Maybank Highway. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5:30 pm.
Click here for photo gallery. Photos by Sandra Stringer.
Sandra Stringer is our Editor.