Etta's Attic opens near Bellingham's antique hub

With over 10,000 pieces of jewelry, glassware, light fixtures and more, Sharon Quast offers a new look at vintage items...

By Anne Maertens

Business: Etta’s Attic
Owner: Sharon Quast
Opening Date: May 7
Address: 2 Prospect Ave.
Phone: (360) 734-1900
Square Footage: 500

Antique shops filled to the brim with trinkets and treasures dot the northern end of downtown Bellingham’s Holly Street. In May 2009, Sharon Quast found another storefront near Bellingham’s antique hub where she opened Etta’s Attic Antiques & Collectibles.

Quast’s coined the space “Etta’s Attic” after her late grandmother and filled it with antique glassware, collectible salt and peppershakers, an elegant three-piece china hutch and much more.

“I’m really about the thrill of the hunt in here,” Quast said. “That’s a fun thing for a lot of antique people — they want to find a little crevice and some oddball thing.”

Quast said having multiple antique shops located in one area is more likely to draw in people who believe that things get sweeter with time, especially because the Bellingham shops don’t all specialize in the same thing.

Etta’s Attic, for example, is focused on oriental rugs and unique lighting fixtures. One fixture called “the wedding cake” is priced at $595. Quast swears this same fixture would sell for more than $1,200 in Seattle.

After working at The Bon Marche in Tacoma, Wash. for seven years, Quast also has a tendency to pick up a lot of jewelry for her store.

“I’m kind of really into the jewelry.” Quast said. “But unless [people] come in here, they don’t know how much jewelry I have.”

With approximately 2,000 pieces of jewelry, 100 salt and peppershakers, 5,000 cookbooks, as well as many other items filling her store and personal garage, Quast said she could fill her store four times over with the collectibles she has accumulated over the years.

Rather than clutter her store with excess goods, Quast said she likes to maintain an organized shop that is easy to walk through.

Before opening her store, she spent several years selling antiques at a booth in Snohomish, Wash. While there, she learned what sold and what didn’t, price points and the general “pulse” of the antique business.

Quast said she enjoys helping people find and buy something meaningful. For this reason, she is willing to layaway any item for anyone, as long as they can put a few dollars down.

“If somebody’s buying something, it’s because they want it,” Quast said. “They want to enjoy it. It’s something that’s talking to them.”

Some people enter Etta’s Attic looking for specific brand names, Quast said. Years of experience working with antiques have taught Quast to recognize the names that represent high-quality craftsmanship, such as a black  “Weiss” morning brooch displayed in a large jewelry case.

Buying right helps Quast pass the deals onto the customers. While some great deals get snatched up quickly, other items take longer to sell, but Quast said she doesn’t mind hanging on to them.

“You could hold onto something for years,” Quast said. “But that’s the beauty of this business. It’s not raspberries that are going to spoil, it’s beautiful because it’s only going to get older.”

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