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Tucson’s Sixth Avenue Antiques offers unique finds

Sixth+Avenue+Antiques+sells+trinkets%2C+art%2C+furniture%2C+clothing+and+more.+The+shop+opened+this+summer+located+at+537+N.+6th+Avenue.
Noor Haghighi
Sixth Avenue Antiques sells trinkets, art, furniture, clothing and more. The shop opened this summer located at 537 N. 6th Avenue.

Antiques aren’t always just old knick-knacks, dressers or signs; they can also be beautiful clothing, accessories and shoes. Located in a building originally used for a blueprint company built back in the 1940s, Sixth Avenue Antiques embodies vintage products coming from an array of sources.

Owner and manager Kayleen Martin-Tellis talked about what inspired her to open an antique mall in Downtown Tucson — especially one with such a prominent feature on vintage clothing.

“I think Tucson is an awesome area for antiques. I love the vibe down here, the artistic flare and the weather. We have friends down here, so it was just a natural progression to move a store down here,” Martin-Tellis said.

Martin-Tellis loves history. It’s what brought her into the antiquing business in the first place. It’s also what drew her to the location for the shop.

A mannequin head displays jewelry at Sixth Avenue Antiques on Oct. 25. The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. (Noor Haghighi)

When it comes to booths in the shop, Martin-Tellis has requirements for the vendors. They have to have a certain amount of vintage and antique items. If there are handmade items involved, it has to have a certain amount of handmade material as well. 

Christina Rivera is a vendor at the shop under Y.O.L.O. She sells vintage clothing and accessories on the second floor of the antique mall. When she looks for items, first impressions matter.

“When I’m out hunting [for antiques], the first thing I look at is anything that is eye-catching. It’s really weird. I feel like I can almost imagine the person who is going to love this item. I look for things that are obviously in great condition, but also looking for unique items, classic pieces as well, anything that kind of just catches my attention that’s what I’m looking for,” Rivera said.

Rivera grew up around antiques and thrifting. Her grandmother would take her to yard sales, and her mom repurposed old items into brand-new things. Her mom has a booth in the antique mall as well.

To Rivera, pricing has always been a challenge when it comes to her items. Rivera tries to base it on how much she paid for the item. She has a range of high and low-priced items, so she can appeal to all sorts of people. 

“Just seeing people find things they enjoy. I think that’s something that I’ve been looking for trying to find that sense of community, and being in a booth with a lot of other like-minded business owners has been pretty cool. Then getting them to see your customer actually enjoy the pieces that you’re spending hours looking for, cleaning, merchandising and sometimes even mending so it’s in sellable condition. I think that’s rewarding,” Rivera said.

Rivera is always hunting for new items and always restocking her booth. She also has vintage home decor being sold and updates her shop Instagram quite often.

The top floor at Sixth Avenue Antiques has vintage and second-hand clothing. The shop also sells jewelry, trinkets, furniture and more. (Noor Haghighi)

Another vendor, Julieta Bustamante under Amorcito Vintage, sells vintage clothing items and miscellaneous items upstairs. Bustamante is a recent University of Arizona graduate and also works part-time at the shop.

“So I wasn’t kind of planning on this; it kind of fell into my life at the right place. My goal was to be a teacher, and I still very much like teaching, but I feel like it was really unexpected how I ended up here. I guess I’ve enjoyed it way more than I thought I would,” Bustamante said.

Bustamante grew up thrifting with her mother, so it’s always been a part of her life. She’s also always had an eye for fashion as well as the history behind certain items. 

Bustamante is always looking into trends and catering to UA students. But she also looks for items she enjoys because she believes someone else may enjoy it as well.

“That’s what I like about antiquing. Just finding cool stuff that people used to like and now they don’t anymore, they outgrew it. But then shopping around and finding that item that is really awesome to you and just giving it new life,” Bustamante said.

Working part-time has also allowed Bustamante to connect with customers, including those who buy her items. To her, it’s a full-circle moment in the antique shop.

Sixth Avenue Antiques is located at 537 N. Sixth Ave. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. An extension within the building has recently been added as well.


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