Lucky Breaks in Vintage Housewares at Wishbone Reserve

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“When choosing to buy vintage, you are doing yourself, the earth—and often your pocket—a good service,” explains the team (Julie Lilienfeld, Athena Hoffberger, and Ryan Haase) at Wishbone Reserve, a Hampden shop that sells furniture, rugs, taxidermy, and art. 

I first discovered the eclectic Falls Road shop on Instagram, where Wishbone’s steady stream of beautiful objects constantly tantalizes and attracts new visitors. Once inside, the space is both expansive and full, with ample room for browsing and finds that you didn’t realize you needed—until of course, you need it. Whether vintage barware, leather chairs, original paintings by Baltimore-based artists, or the cutest dog tchotchkes you’ve ever seen, Wishbone Reserve always has that certain something to make your living space feel more special. That each object possesses its own history and story just makes it more interesting.

The Wishbone Reserve Team: 

Julie Lilienfeld, 36, 5 years co-owner
Athena Hoffberger, 40, 5 years co-owner
Ryan Haase, 32, 1 year co-owner

Where does the name come from?

Athena chose the name “Wishbone” as she was the first one to conceptualize our store. She wanted a name that was fun and playful, but also symbolic. The passed-down tradition of breaking a wishbone to grant a wish = lucky breaks. Every item in our store is a little treasure. We do our best to offer items at the very best price. We sell objects from the past with the hopeful intention of finding them new lives in present-day homes.

What do you sell the most of? 

Our focus is vintage housewares. Anything from a designer mid-century sofa to a Victorian beaded footstool. We love textiles and the occasional piece of taxidermy. We dabble in architectural salvage and oddities. Once a month we feature a local artist. Because our inventory is so varied and unpredictable, we have become a destination shop for finding unusual gifts as well as statement pieces for the home.

Where do you get your art, jewelry, furniture, and other items?

You can find us picking anywhere from tiny garage sales to obscure auction houses. Often we work one on one with individuals who are downsizing or even entire estate liquidation. We have handpicked Kilim pillows and rugs from Turkey. Some of our inventory is on consignment. We are lucky to have some individuals who consign with us regularly.

Can you talk about how shopping vintage is both fashionable and political? You are recycling and also taking some creative risks in what you wear or put in your home or office.

Things of the past were made with superior craftsmanship and attention to detail. The majority of items that are manufactured today are made in mass quantities overseas. When you stop to think about the process from beginning (often in China or India) to end (in your local chain store or catalogue) the effects on our planet are devastating. Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-imagine.

What are your favorite vintage items to buy? If you have one favorite thing you bought and use/ love all the time, what is it?

This is the toughest question to answer for the three of us. We are inspired by every design period. A great mid-century modern sofa. A colorful tribal Turkish, Russian, or Afghani rug. A pair of antique chairs.

Julie: My rock crystal chandelier that looks like it was plucked out of Marie Antionette’s boudoir.
Ryan: Antique stove that was turned into a cocktail bar. Very titanic chic!
Athena: A 19th-century, life-size, papier-mâché french bulldog that growls when you pull its chain.

More information: 

Wishbone Reserve
3811 Falls Road, Baltimore 21211
Hours: Sunday and Wednesday noon–5, Thursday–Saturday noon–7
Insta: wishbone_reserve
FB: @wishbonereserve

Photos by Justin Tsucalas for the BmoreArt Journal of Art + Ideas Issue 07: Body

This story is from Issue 07: Body, available here.

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