By Mallory Elaine Clevenger
My Antique Store has been tucked away on West Delmar Avenue in Godfrey for over a decade, welcoming locals and tourists alike into a maze of delicate glass, hand-crafted furniture, and a wide variety of fascinating trinkets. These treasures are bought and sold by Mark and Audrey Stewart, who have been operating the store since 1991. The door is open to customers from Wednesday through Saturday, between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can peruse items for sale any time on their website: myantiquestore.com. Keep an eye out for Audrey’s surprise sales and specials on Facebook as well; there may or may not be a sale on costume jewelry planned for some time this November.
This is a single-owner store, so you can feel confident about who you’re buying from. Many antique stores no longer operate independently, with most filled with booth spaces rented by various vendors. In these cases, you can’t engage with the vendors to inquire about items or negotiate prices. Audrey, on the other hand, is readily available to answer questions about anything in the store and will always give you an honest response. She is open to offers under the right conditions and hosts a customer appreciation day once a year when reasonable offers are encouraged. You can also inquire about layaway agreements, and a waitlist is available for customers searching for something specific.
While this is the couple’s 32nd year running the store, they haven’t always been in Godfrey. The original location of My Antique Store was inside the old cracker factory building in downtown Alton. However, in May of 2009, a windstorm caused the top of the building to collapse into the street. “The whole third floor came off,” Audrey explained, “The building was so old…there were hardly any bricks left together anymore.” Fortunately, no one was injured. Audrey spoke gratefully about everyone who helped the couple salvage their remaining inventory, saying, “We had so many people; friends and people we were in clubs with, they just showed up and helped us move everything.”
Their new location has 6,000 square feet (about the area of a basketball court) of floor space and the couple makes the most of every inch. The building is divided into three distinct rooms accessible to customers, as well as the “warehouse room” that holds an impressive collection of beautiful items. You can spend hours exploring each shelf and still discover more to see. Where do they find all these items? “Some auctions, some estate sales, but mostly it’s from individuals who come in,” Audrey revealed. She also shared a general rule when deciding what to sell, “I try to stop around 1960. I like to stay older than that, but that’s not a hundred percent.”
Initially, the Stewarts specialized in depression glass, a type of machine-made glassware from the Great Depression era. Over time, they expanded to include other kinds of glassware, such as the colorfully iridescent Carnival style, the higher quality Elegant depression era style, skillfully handcrafted Fine China and other oriental styles. Mark, a computer programmer by trade, served as the primary curator of their entire inventory until April 2022, working alongside his day job. “Now that he’s retired, I’m really scared,” Audrey joked, noting Mark’s ever-present dedication to constantly locating and acquiring new pieces.
Lately, Mark has been acquiring a new type of glassware: Uranium glass. These pieces are popular due to their neon green glow underneath a black light, a result of trace amounts of uranium oxide added to the glass. Rest assured; you won’t suffer from radiation poisoning from this ghostly green glass. The uranium content in the average piece ranges from trace amounts to around two percent, and it’s not a coating that could rub off or be absorbed by anything. However, it’s advisable to avoid eating and drinking from uranium glassware since any damage to the glass could potentially contaminate edibles. Still, they make for fantastical displays and highly scientific bragging rights.
As a rather eclectic individual, I had a blast inspecting items throughout the store—admittedly getting lost for over an hour. Some simple but curious items that stuck out to me while wandering about include giant glass soda bottles, vintage hats, a mink scarf, ornate Mardi Gras masks, and the fanciest pickle jar that I’ve ever seen. My Antique Store is a place that you’ll want to return to time and time again once you see all it has to offer. Now go! Investigate for yourself. Go toward anything that catches your eye and have fun exploring secret compartments hidden in certain pieces of furniture. I promise you won’t be disappointed.