Let me start by saying that I am not a shopper. Normally, I am a buyer. If I need or want something, I go to the store that sells it, I buy it and go home.
My best friend has said these exact words, "This is exactly what I was looking for," before continuing to shop for that very item.
The one area where we find common ground is antiquing. I can lose whole days in antique malls and not even think about how hungry I am, how much my feet hurt or whether there might be a game of some sort on somewhere.
I think it's because I don't think of antiquing as shopping. It's like going to a free museum where you get to touch everything, pick it up, look at it, see if it works. But most importantly, you can imagine the life it once had, how excited someone was to get it, how it earned those nicks and dings.
Sometimes these days, a walk through the antique store is like a walk down memory lane, through rows of 1960s and 1970s kitsch I first saw in my grandparents' and my parents' houses.
One of my favorite places to stroll through antiques is the small town of Pendleton in the northwest corner of the state. The square - bounded by Main, Exchange, Mechanic and East Queen streets - is the perfect place to stroll, shop and nosh.
When you first see Avenue of Oaks, (864) 646-8907, 107 N. Mechanic St., you might do a quick double-take. The store is located in an old service station, but it is filled with antiques and collectibles.
When you get hungry, stop in at 1826 On the Green, (864) 646-5500, 105 Exchange St. for a wonderful lunch. In nice weather, the patio is just perfect. The menu includes classic dishes for lunch and dinner. Dinner entrées range from $10 to $23. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11:30-2 for lunch and Thursday-Saturday for dinner starting at 5.
After you're done shopping and eating, you also can check out a little history at local plantations at Woodburn at Ashtabula Historic House.
Woodburn (864) 646-7249, 130 History Lane, was built around 1830 with a wrap-around-2-story piazza built as a summer home by Charles Cotseworth Pinckney. The house is an excellent example of an early 19th century Upcountry plantation house. The home was later expanded to include 18 rooms and the farm grew to more than 1,000 acres.
The historic site consists of a museum with antebellum antiques and family artifacts on 10 acres of the original plantation with a walking trail to the ruins of other farm outbuildings. The outbuildings include a carriage house, a cookhouse and a reproduction of a slave/tenant house interpreting the life of Jane Edna Hunter, the African-American activist who founded the Phylis Wheatley Society. Hunter was born in a similar house at Woodburn in 1882.
The house is open Sunday 2-6, April through October. Admission is $6 for adults, $2 for children 5-11, and free for younger children.
Ashtabula Historic House (864) 646-7249, 2725 Old Greenville Hwy. This large mansion was originally built in 1825 by Ladson Gibbes and his wife and later owned by their son, naturalist Lewis Reeves Gibbes. Also on the site is an 18th-century building that was operated as a tavern before the main house was built, but that became a kitchen for the main house.
Ashtabula is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Open 1-5 Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, April through October. Admission: $7 adults, $3 for ages 5-10; free for younger children.