On the Hunt
Northern Traders Offers Antiques & Collectibles For Casual Shoppers & Enthusiasts
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
Is Northern Traders an antique shop, a furniture store or a flea market? Regardless of how someone would classify it, people flock there to find treasures of various kinds. Located on Old U.S. Highway 31 in Rochester, it is owned and operated by Sandra Bailey and her husband Alan. Their gentle dog Roger is the store’s official greeter, and Roger is joined by their second dog Otis, who usually stays behind the counter.
Inside, vendors rent space and sell highly sought-after items such as vintage Pyrex and Fiesta ware. Due to the resurgence in popularity of mid-century modern furniture, many people come in hoping to find the perfect end table or lamp. Everyone usually finds something – there are vintage toys, tools and even hair straighteners.
“We have many usable household items,” Sandra says. “It’s a walk down memory lane. People see a set of bowls like grandma had. It brings back happy memories. We’ve sold a camel saddle and once a man discovered a set of false teeth in a mixed bag he bought. He came back and told us he got $300 for the gold fillings.”
While some people come to enjoy the thrill of the hunt for hidden gems, many are lured in by objects posted on the Northern Traders Facebook and Instagram pages. Every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., Bailey appears on an interactive Facebook Live video to show off 20 items chosen from the inventory Northern Traders acquires daily.
“Lots of people hear about us just by word of mouth,” Sandra says. “We have had customers from as far away as California and St. Louis. Sometimes people going to Chicago will go out of their way to see us.”
When the couple got married in the summer of 2012, Alan was running Bailey’s Furniture in Rochester. Sandra noticed that one of the two buildings was basically empty. She came up with the idea to start a flea market, and in January of 2013 held an indoor yard sale.
“I handed out flyers to recruit flea market vendors at the yard sale,” recalls Sandra. “From that, we got our first five vendors. By March we had 35 vendors and we officially launched Northern Traders.”
Bailey laughs as she explains where the Northern Traders name came from.
“Alan liked it because I’m southern,” she says. “Also, it was the northern building we started with.”
Northern Traders now accommodates more than 100 vendor booths, and because of demand for vendor space, the portion of the business devoted to new furniture has been somewhat condensed over the years. Today, customers can view a sampling of reclining chairs, bunk beds, couches and other pieces that can be ordered. One line of products Northern Traders has always been known for is high-quality mattresses.
“We have a full line of furniture with different brands that we get from American Wholesale, which is a company out of Indianapolis,” Sandra says. “Our mattresses are two-sided and can be flipped, which gives buyers more value for their money.”
Sandra networks with other antique shops in the county, and adds that she’s grown fond of her various vendors over the years.
“I keep a list of area shops by the door,” she says. “I’d like to see Rochester become a destination as a great place to come for a day trip. People can shop, and also enjoy the scenery and the lake.”
Visit Northern Traders at 2801 North Old U.S. Highway 31 in Rochester. Call at 574- 223-5248 or go to facebook.com/NorthernTraders for more info.