For the last eight years, hundreds of vintage shops, antique malls, home decor stores and more have come together for the biannual Vintage Shop Hop.

Event organizer Ann Campos first came up with the idea after speaking with her friends who own vintage shops and experienced slower sales during the fall and winter seasons.

“The idea was simply to give the shopper a reason to call their friends and spend the day shopping for vintage and antique decor in their own backyard,” Campos said in a news release. “I wanted to make it easy for them to travel from shop to shop while supporting small business at the same time.”

The first Vintage Shop Hop started with 180 shops eight years ago, and it has since grown to between 350 to 400 shops in Illinois and Wisconsin. Each shop is required to have an in-store promotion to participate in the event, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 1-2 this year.

Campos organizes the event twice each year, once in March and once in October.

Locally, Milton and Janesville have many different shops participating.

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This is the third year Farmhouse Finds will participate in the biannual Vintage Shop Hop from Oct. 1-2. Milton and Janesville have several different shops participating in this year’s event including Chicken Coop Collectibles, Mama K & Friends Vintage Emporium, Hattie & Elsie and others.

Farmhouse Finds

Nikki Olson, owner of Farmhouse Finds at 231 Parkview Drive in Milton, has been in the vintage scene for about six years. The shop opened its first brick-and-mortar location last October, and Olson plans to add a second location Oct. 1 in Clinton.

“I am an ICU nurse by day,” Olson said. “My husband and I have four children. I’ve always been creative and crafty. We wanted to give them an outlet to be creative, have fun and do things as a family.”

The shop offers lots of fall-themed items such as pumpkins, pumpkin-themed items, mums, farmhouse-style home decor, candles, mugs, clothing and more.

Farmhouse Finds has been participating in Vintage Shop Hop for the past two years, and Olson said she is excited to be involved.

“Some people make our shop the first stop every year,” she said. “People come from all over. There’s a ton of people from the Chicago area that come up. People make a three-day weekend out of it.”

Olson joked that, at some point, she would like to participate as a shopper rather than a shop owner. Still, each year is a good time, she said, and she often sees a good variety within the shops.

Olson said she goes “all out” each year to try and make the experience special for customers.

“We had a food truck last year,” she said. “This year, we’re going to have a wagon with some of our favorite ladies that own Frayed Edges (another local vintage shop), and they’re going to have a mobile boutique.”

The shop also makes a point to add something fun and creative each year. This year, her family bought a 1950 Chevy Apache to decorate for the event.

“It really helps kick off the holiday season and the fall season for small businesses,” she said.

“Summer isn’t always the best of months. And this is quintessential Midwest.”

Hattie & Elsie

Kate Petersen has been working under the name “Hattie & Elsie’’ for the last seven years, but it wasn’t until June 2021 that she opened her storefront at 650 College St., Milton.

The business initially started as a way to stay home and spend more time with her daughter, but it soon evolved into a popular business.

“Before the pandemic I traveled and did a lot of markets and shows,” she said. “When the pandemic hit, those were cancelled. I had to look for other ways to increase my income. I got my website going and did pick-up at my house in Janesville. I found that I had a lot of customers around here.”

Petersen started to do pop-up shops in Janesville and began looking for a storefront. She said she has always been fond of Milton, and she found her space soon after her search began.

The shop carries a lot of on-trend home decor, furniture, handmade and vintage items of all kinds.

Hattie & Elsie has participated in past Vintage Shop Hops with its previous pop-up shops in Janesville. This year, Petersen is excited to have people visit her store for the event, and visitors will have the chance to win a $50 gift card.

Petersen said she meets many new customers during the annual event, and she does her best to make her store stand out.

“We help a lot of people decorate their houses,” she said.

“We’re not able to go out and do the decorating and services, but they’ll come in and show us pictures of their home or a blank wall that they need some ideas for.”

Mama K & Friends Vintage Emporium

Sisters Linda Kleinschmidt and Nancy Castillo enjoy searching for the more unique and eclectic items you might find when you go to antique and vintage shops.

Their Janesville shop, which opened in August 2020, is a reflection of that.

“We try to get things that people have never seen before,” said Kleinschmidt, co-owner of Mama K & Friends Vintage Emporium, 32 E. Racine St., Suite 100, Janesville. “It’s not what you see at every other store. We have everything from our R2-D2 aquarium (from the “Star Wars” movie franchise), a jukebox that plays music from the ’70s, and we sell a lot of record albums.”

The sisters also sell items associated with Harley-Davidson, pirate-related pieces, furniture, jewelry, soup mixes, soaps and antiques of all kinds.

This year’s Vintage Shop Hop will be the sisters’ third.

“It’s a great event,” Kleinschmidt said. “We meet a lot of great people and we love meeting new people. People come from all over Illinois and Wisconsin. Many of them have come back. As a matter of fact, some ladies came back today and they were here at the shop.”

The store is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, but the sisters plan to open at 9 a.m. for Vintage Shop Hop. During the event, the sisters will offer raffles and other drawings for visitors.

“We’ll have coffee, donuts and gift baskets,” Kleinschmidt said. “We’re going to open a little earlier because people want to get going early to see all the stuff.”

Chicken Coop Collectibles

Shirley Sauer has been an antique collector most of her life, but it wasn’t until she retired that she made it her full-time gig.

Chicken Coop Collectibles, 6507 W. Highway 14 in Janesville, has been in business for nine years. Before opening her store, Sauer participated in local flea markets.

Inside Chicken Coop Collectibles, visitors will find plants, flowers, rusted pans, washtubs, primitives, a “man cave” area and chicken feeders.

Sauer said she enjoys participating in Vintage Shop Hop and thinks it’s a great idea for similar shops to come together.

“I worked at a newspaper and sold advertising for 30 years,” she said. “I sold pages with small ads that were similar to bring people together. People are more apt to come if you have more businesses in one area, so I thought it was good to combine with other similar businesses in the area.”

Chicken Coop Collectibles will offer 10% to 15% off of all its products during Vintage Shop Hop, and Sauer plans to have her homemade fudge on hand for customers to nibble on while they visit.

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