Main Street was once the place to go for things like cheap furniture and upholstery supplies. Today it’s home to several vintage and antique shops, plus some impressive street art.
When I walk into many of the shops on Main Street, it’s like a trip back in time. It’s delightful, except it’s a little unsettling that I own (and still use) some of the things I’ve found for sale.
This display kitchen at Retro Vegas, for instance, holds several objects that are very familiar to me. See that little folding stool by the counter, in the corner? I have an identical one at home, inherited in the few things left from my childhood home in the Charleston Park area Downtown.
If you’ve seen the movie “Casino,” you’ve seen what I call Vintage Vegas style. The look is heavy on orange, olive, glass, and gold in a mid-century style that’s actually pretty cool. It saw its apex during the 70s. I think the earlier, slightly less gaudy 1960s style is cooler, but it’s a little harder to find. Retro Vegas is filled with vintage pieces from prior eras.
While Vegas-centric items are the focus of several Main Street stores, that’s certainly not all you’ll find in the way of shops. Case in point: Las Vegas Oddities and Antiquities, which is light on Vegas-themed items but has everything from fine art to skulls.
Modern Mantiques has a great combination of vintage and interesting items. My favorite piece here was a metal dragon sculpture. “Look, it’s your spirit animal,” my son said.
JJC Clocks & Antiques is full of clocks (of course), but also has an area filled with an assortment of vintage and antique pieces alongside unexpected things, like this elephant.
The number of ash trays in most stores is astonishing. It’s a reminder that everyone smoked everywhere all the time from the 60s through the 80s. Ash trays were functional and decorative. Today, the prettier ones have survived and can be re-purposed, unless you’re using them for their original purpose. This is one I have, and I think it's way too pretty for cigarette ashes.
When you’re wandering down Main Street from store to store, you see plenty of street art along the side streets. It’s one of the best reasons to walk to a few shops.
It’s nice to see a mix of businesses in the area. The vintage shops are neighbors to car repair shops, restaurants, plumbers, tattoo parlors and other businesses that are hold-overs from Main Street’s prior life.
The word “gentrification” gets mentioned a lot when talking about this part of town. Personally, I like it the way it is, but everything changes, especially in Las Vegas. In August, LV Weekly featured a piece on Main Street, complete with an artistic conceptualization of how the new, redesigned, one-way Main Street will look like after road construction is done (whenever that may be). I’m sure it will be pretty, but I’ll admit I’m a big fan of authentic grittiness when it comes to my home town. But I have hope we’ll get it right, something like what has happened along Fremont East.
An afternoon on Main Street is sure to be entertaining, especially if you’re hunting for a specific hard-to-find item, or if you’re of a certain age and remember seeing this stuff when it first came out. If you dislike glossy newness and cookie-cutter things, Main Street Las Vegas is the place for you.
Are you a vintage and antique shop lover?
Perhaps not coincidentally, the owners of Retro Vegas own a home that was once an embodiment of the Vegas Vintage style in every way. A few years ago I read a story in Las Vegas Weeklyabout the owners’ purchase of the former home of Doyle Brunson (also once the residence of Jackie Gaughan), a place I knew well once since I was friends with Brunson’s daughters when we were kids. It’s an amazing house that was once filled with furnishings that would fit right into its current owners’ shop.