By Donitra Clemons, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Antiques may not be the first thing that come to mind when one thinks of shopping in Rio, but before tiny bathing suits, Carnival and football (soccer), the city was one of the world’s busiest ports. Wealthy and soon-to-be wealthy European traders settled in the area and brought their aesthetic with them, and this influence can be found in some of the wares they left behind, now sold in shops, stalls, and fairs throughout the city.
European cities may have a stronghold on the antiques market in terms of variety and volume, but Thomas Flaherty, an antiques restorer advises, “When you go to an antique shop in Rio what you are going to get is an item that is ready to be placed in your house with no need for further work.”
This may cost a bit more, but it makes the city amicable for beginners and those that don’t want to scavenge, or those more interested in shopping and hunting for hidden gems.
An easy starting ground is the nearly 100 vendor complex, Associação Brasileira Antiquários Shopping in Copacabana. Its location, close to Siqueira Campos Metro station, and daily hours make this granddaddy of antique shopping accessible to purchase everything from antique jewelry to ornate wood cabinets.
On Saturdays, when the Antiquários Shopping center is closed sellers and buyers meet nearby at the Shopping Casino Atlântico’s fair located in Sofitel Hotel building in Copacabana near Arpoador. This location makes it a nice beach break activity, being right on the corner of Copacabana and Ipanema, and close to the General Osório Metro station.
Another hotbed is the charming and well-curated shops on Rua do Lavrádio’s cobblestone street in Lapa, located in Rio’s Centro district. This area has corned much of Rio’s market of antique home furnishings.
Shops like Armazém 161, which has been around for over forty years, and has an incredible collection of chandeliers that hang like illuminated piñatas from the ceiling (ranging in price from R$120 – R$2,500 and more).
Erinéa Fernandes Da Silva, who has worked at Armazém 161 for over a decade says the some of the store’s oldest offerings are their Movies do Imperial from around the 1840s.
During the week, the more than a dozen stores on Rua do Lavrádio close around 6PM, just in time to rest your shop-worn feet at one of the outdoor botecos (bars) with the area’s after work crowd. In addition, on the first Saturday of the month, Rua do Lavrádio is blocked off for a full blown Antiques fair.
If the only day you have free is Sunday, then head to the Feira de Antiguidades da Gávea, held in Gávea at the Praça Santos Dumont. This market is similar to the others but on a smaller scale. Insiders say this is often the best for negotiating with vendors.
As far as what one should look for in antiques, as Flaherty says, it’s personal, “Like stamp collecting or comic books people become enamored with a period or style of furniture and that is what they will stick to. I personally love campaign writing boxes and boulle marquetry, both very different but amazing pieces of furniture.”