Plattsburgh’s Mall of Endless Variety
Customers entering through the wooden double doors of the newest Antique and Variety Mall walk into a thrifter’s haven.
Handcrafted furniture, like hardwood shelves and cedarwood chests, catch the eye first. Smaller collectibles like World War II knives, 1950s baseball cards and 35mm film cameras are displayed in glass cases. Prompts on the floor point customers to vendors’ booths with Vietnam War military patches, 20th century hand tools and vintage jewelry. Younger thrifters gravitate toward the vast vinyl collection and affordable home decor.
Customers can also find artisanal products, like handmade soap and colorful candles. Sweets, like chewy maple candy and sugar cookies, are displayed at the front of the store.
Nori Wright manages the Antique and Variety Mall’s second location. This newly renovated location opened in June 2021 on Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh, New York. Since then, it has been the hotspot location for the business. Wright loves meeting new people and working with the vendors to sell their wares.
“I love what I do,” Wright said. “Our vendors work hard to always supply us with unique merchandise to fill our shelves. I love meeting new people, and our customers are always happy when they come into the shop.”
The original store, on Margaret Street in downtown Plattsburgh, has bustled with customers and vendors for 10 years. Wishing to expand the business, owner Steve Brodi purchased the Cornelia Street location in February 2020. Immediately, the business faced major challenges. Sewer pipes in front of the building burst, forcing the city to tear apart the front parking lot. Wright, throwing herself into the chaos, took it upon herself to get the shop back on its feet.
“There was five inches of sewer water in the bathroom and back hall. I had to clean it up myself. Not the best day I ever had at work,” Wright said.
After the burdensome start, enthusiastic vendors started calling Wright to set up their booths in anticipation of opening. Finally, after months, the store started to take shape. Skilled local artisans and antique vendors set up shop.
“I love the stuff we have here. Customers come in looking for something to buy as a gift. They are sure to find something,” Wright said.
If a customer finds an item they like, Wright encourages them to buy it before it’s gone; things go fast. Wright was once intrigued by a dust-covered shoebox of photos from a family vacation that had been hidden away for years. The mystery embedded in the color negatives intrigued her. She wanted it for herself. She decided to pass on the purchase, which she now regrets.
“I wanted to take it home and scan all the film to make prints. I love old history like that. I am just sad I never decided to buy that box,” Wright said.
The Variety Mall has created meaningful relationships between collectors and shoppers alike. Customers return again and again to browse a patchwork of goods, old and new.
“We have been the main antique store in Plattsburgh for a very long time,” Wright said. “Everybody who comes in feels like family.”
Story and photos by Jonas Ward