You haven’t been “home” until you take a visit to the Desperate Housewares Vintage Furniture Shop in Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta.
As a frequenter of Ponce City Market, I have passed Desperate Housewares on many occasions and always found myself intrigued by the retro furniture outside of the shop. My mission to find a new desk is what ended my curiosity. While we drove around the city looking for a desk my husband insisted that I order a new desk online. I adamantly refused because I am always in the business of saving a dollar! It’s just who I am and I don’t seek perfection, so I suggested an impromptu trip to Desperate Housewares. Upon arrival I instantly felt overwhelmed with excitement—like a kid in the candy store. Before getting out of the car, I took a moment to read the signs with information about new COVID prevention measures in place. It is rather interesting how a social pandemic has created such stillness in our lives that we now read the signs displayed on the doors of businesses. If only we practiced that same sense of reasoning and basic principle of understanding on a daily basis. Anyhow, I hopped out of the car and made my way over to the art pieces outside of the store. Each of us has a unique story to tell and displaying that transparency through art is astounding. Once my husband got our son out of the car seat, we made our way inside and were instantly greeted by Mr. Ashley.
We certainly were not prepared for the overflow of vintage items as we stepped into the store. Mr. Ashley was warm and inviting, providing us with proper sanitation wipes and a brief, yet fascinating background story about the history of Desperate Housewares. The name and isolated location are enough to draw interest, but I knew I had truly stumbled upon a hidden gem within seconds of walking through the doors. Much like the theme of the popular hit series “Cheers” – I truly felt as if I was at home. The kind of place “where everybody knows your name… and you’re always glad you came.” As I slowly walked around the store I was instantly drawn to the retro luggage pieces plastered across the shelves. My heart suddenly desired to travel. The pandemic will quickly remind you of the tiny things we took for granted, such as traveling back home or enjoying a quick road trip. I wondered how many hands had touched those suitcases and what stories were quietly, yet forcefully tucked away inside over the years. Mr. Ashley (acting as our tour guide) described the store as having “the things you would see in the homes of your grandmother, or great-grandmother.”
The vintage lamps and artistic vases quickly took me back to the summer days I spent in Cleveland, Ohio with my grandparents. East 89th street was the landmark and during my childhood it was my summer vacation escape. There were many rooms in this house, but I spent much of my time in the day room. I would find myself immersed in the library each day, reading about holistic care, or studying books on religion in hopes that I would find my spiritual awakening. Sometimes I would simply do nothing and just sleep on the day bed, or find my rhythm and groove while bumping the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on my grandfather’s stereo. He later gave me that CD and I still listen to it til this day. In my mind I can still vividly see the white architecture of the day bed, with bouquets of flowers printed in unison on the most distinct areas of the framework. It was simple, yet it gave me an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. It’s often been said, that home is where the heart is, and that is what I felt.