By Tiffany Cooke
Inside Nana’s This N That, antiques, collectibles, furniture, trinkets, dishes, handmade items, and everything in-between line the shelves. Tina Lee describes the shopping experience in her story like that of a treasure hunt.
Lee, who opened the shop on May 8, was inspired to go into business by two things – history and her own home. First, the idea for the shop formulated when she and her husband found their home was too cluttered from items they’d collected. Then, their shared love for history led them to open on the Public Square, preserving and re-purposing an old Salem building.
Most of the front of the store features items that Lee found in her home or picked up from flea markets and decided to sell. The other rooms have shelves that can be rented out to other individuals who possess or make items they’re willingly to part with.
“We wanted to downsize our home, and this seemed like a fun way to get of stuff,” Lee said. “People keep bringing stuff in and I keep buying so it’s not really working that well.”
The shelves in the store are stocked full, but Lee says she can’t tell she’s moved anything out of her home yet. Some things she can bear to part with, but other items Lee won’t let go.
Once the idea for the shop formed, the location fell into place. The Lees saw several places, but when they drove on the Square and saw the “for sale” sign in the window, they knew this building was right for them.
“Both of us are big on history,” Lee said. “Being able to rehab a building on the Square was just a nice idea.”
In its past, the building hosted a doctor’s office, the Green Lantern Soda Shop, Martin’s Dairy, and most recently, a clothing store.
The couple lives in the historical Shrum House and have bought and restored other historic houses in the Salem area to prevent them from being torn down. They saw This N That as another opportunity for them to preserve a part of local history.
Lee’s favorite part of running the shop is the costumers that she meets. When people come in, she gets to talk to them about the building, the items she sells, and about life in general. Once, she was chit chatting with a woman who rented a booth and found that they shared an aunt. The two had never met, and only by talking did they discover their relation.
“The connections I can make with people is really fun,” Lee said.
Lee also likes that unpredictability of the people who come in. She can’t just look at them and tell what they’ll buy – it’s a constant surprise. The hottest selling item right now, though, is her collection of vinyl records, a nostalgic outlet for shoppers.
Lee has her own outlet of nostalgia while at work – the location.
“I remember when I was a little girl, everyone would walk around the Square and stop in everywhere to shop,” she said.
She hopes that Nana’s This N That will one day be a part of this experience for someone else.