CEDAR FALLS --- When Ann and Barry Eastman's collection of antique pieces and vintage items began to outgrow the storage space they had available, the couple saw two options.
"We finally just got to a point where we were either going to have to stop thrifting or open a shop," Ann Eastman said. "It was going to be one or the other."
They chose the latter, opening Miss Wonderful in November on Main Street in Cedar Falls.
For the Eastmans, collecting antiques and vintage decor is a family business.
"The kids have gone with us. My older one loves to go thrifting with us. And (the store) feels like a very family-friendly place," Ann Eastman said.
Her collecting habit, the fruits of which have provided the bulk of the store's stock, is a love she shares with her husband, Barry Eastman.
"When I met (Barry) and he was collecting, too, the collecting exponentially increased. We were going to auctions, estate sales --- we were thrifting, picking, all over Iowa."
Their collection grew enough to open Miss Wonderful, a bright, colorful and lively space on the second block of Main Street. The open and well-lit space features a myriad of furniture, decorative items, glassware, collectibles, games, books, records and more. Every vintage table (yes, they're all for sale, too) displays arrangements of carefully chosen merchandise --- some new, some old.
While the vintage items' character speaks for itself, the new merchandise is carefully chosen to represent a particular Miss Wonderful style.
"We try not to have products that are carried within 100 miles of here," said clerk Tara Pickering, who helped the Eastmans get the store off the ground. "When people come here, we want them to feel like they're finding something special. ... There are a lot of small designers and artists that we're representing. It makes me very happy to share that with people when they come in. People feel like, this could be me. I could be making these necklaces. And anybody with those skills --- they could be selling here, too."
Pickering, a collector of vintage typewriters, helped the Eastmans sort through items piece by piece. They're still searching for a three-tiered pink and black ashtray somewhere in the loot that Barry Eastman secured while on a trip to Goodwill with his dad. Having no money on him, he talked his dad into giving him the $3 to buy it. Barry Eastman promises the ashtray will end up on display at Miss Wonderful "as soon as we can get to it," he said.
"So many things in here are one-of-a kind," said Pickering. "I don't doubt it that when (these items) enter people's houses they'll become the highlight of the room, or the prized treasure. When you walk into my house, you can tell right away what I love. It's right out there."
The Eastmans considered several locations for their new shop, but decided on Main Street for its sense of community.
"I love the buildings down here and my heart is on Main Street," Ann Eastman said. "I like the foot traffic. I love the energy down here."