By NANCY BALDWIN
At first glance, some antique malls might seem like flea markets. Rows of booths rented by individual sellers line narrow walkways punctuated with glass display cases. Piles of aged merchandise sit atop tables and on the floor. A sense of discovery impels hunters through the crowded aisles.
A short drive away, another antique mall resembles an art gallery. With gleaming floors and specialty lighting, the booths offer intricately carved European furnishings, Oriental rugs and oil paintings in gilded, hand-carved frames. The discreet price tags can run to five figures.
Some locations sell only antiques, while others mix in vintage goods and used wares. Other antique malls focus solely on vintage items interspersed with apparel.
Although the terms “antique” and “vintage” often are used interchangeably, the customary definition of an antique is an item that’s at least 100 years old. Vintage refers to items that are at least 50 years old, but less than 100. Not every mall manager or dealer abides by those rules.