Though Mallory Quaintance lives in Auburn, she did something for the first time a few weekends ago: She and a friend drove downtown, parked the car and wandered the streets, stopping in the small, locally owned shops theyd driven past for years but never stepped inside.
In fact, its as though downtown Auburn were built for just such an activity. Street parking is often free, and small shops span a variety of interests and tastes – try a flight of beer from Mad Anthony Brewing Co. (114 N. Main St.), or peruse the affordable womens fashions at BDazzling Boutique (102 N. Main St.), which opened in May.
Make it a day for antiques – there are at least seven stores in a five-block area – or museums, where if you pay full-price for one, youll receive a museum passport that gets discounts at seven others in the county.
These museums or shops are not in contest with one another for business. Instead, they are happy youre spending your time in town, and they want to keep you here.
Its the best thing, says David Southern, who owns the Sixth Street Emporium antique mall with his wife and provides visitors with a small map of his and the six other antique stores in town.
Shopping and antiques
One of the more unique stores to Auburn is The Olive Twist, an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette tasting bar. The store is about a year old (the one in Fort Wayne has been around for three years) and receives a number of customers from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum down the street, says Quaintance, an employee at the store. She estimates that there are maybe 200 such stores in the country.
The Olive Twist is a small space and full of barrels and bottles of flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. The most popular olive oil flavors, Quaintance says, have been butter, garlic and Tuscan herb.
For those looking for something a little more traditional, there are a variety of unflavored oils – and theres a proper way to taste them.
Start by pouring a small bit in one of the tiny plastic tasting cups provided. Cover the cup between your hands to warm the olive oil, and then sip the oil through your front teeth. This will coat your mouth and cover all your taste buds, and the olive oil will hit the back of your throat. As you swallow, youll notice a burning sensation in the back of your throat. This is one of the qualities of an extra virgin olive oil, which means when the olive was picked, it was quickly turned into oil.
BDazzling Boutique has been open since May, and owner Carol Woodfin says business has been excellent so far. She calls her store the only boutique in Auburn, and it provides fashions from her favorite cities: Woodfins suppliers come from Los Angeles and Dallas.
I like the western influence a little in womens clothing, she says.
The store is small, located on the corner of two busy streets, and inviting. It features trendy clothing and jewelry. Teens love it, she says, and many out-of-town customers have found BDazzling. She recalls some from Fargo, N.D., and a few women from Mexico City, as well as closer stops like Fort Wayne, Angola and Hicksville, Ohio.
Sixth Street Emporium (106 W. Sixth St.) is the oldest antique store in Auburn, owner Southern says, and its certainly the largest. With three floors, it is the only antique mall in town.
But Southern is quick to point out the benefits of the other antique haunts in town, too. Jernigans Antiques (308 S. Main St.) specializes in toys and military antiques, while Lollypops (414 S. Main St.) specialty is womens clothing, furniture and estate jewelry.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum (1600 S. Wayne St.) is three floors of the sort of cars you most associate with shoot-em-up gangster movies. Theyre old, beautiful and, in most cases, they run – the cars at the ACD museum have regular maintenance, receiving new gas and oil, to assure they remain in working order, museum operations director Kendra Klink says.
The museum has more than 120 cars on display, as well as an interaction spot for children – or adults – to design their own car using draft tables and tools. They can take their creations home or display them on the wall – the museum has stacks and stacks of car designs from the room, Klink says.
The museum boasts the largest collection of Duesenbergs – what today might be like a Bentley, whereas an Auburn would be like a Honda and a Cord like a BMW, Klink says – in one location. It also features a few rotating exhibits. Currently, the museum has a collection of stainless steel cars on loan from an Ohio museum. The cars are entirely steel and exceedingly heavy. They were once driven by company salesmen.
Klink estimates the average person takes an hour to an hour and a half to tour the museum.
The car buffs who read every single sign and want to learn as much as possible are here all day, she says.
Even if some in the family arent very enthused by cars, they might enjoy the architecture and art deco design of some of the show rooms. The building was completed in 1930, and the floor is original in the large space on the ground floor of the museum. All but two of the chandeliers have been found in their original design (two are replicas – good luck trying to figure out which two they are).
If youre interested in seeing more of DeKalb Countys museums, use the museum passport, which will get you discounts to area museums after spending full-price in one spot. Why not add the Garrett Historical Railroad Museum (300 N. Randolph St., Garrett) and the Hoosier Air Museum (2822 County Road 62) for a day of planes, trains and automobiles?