Speckled throughout any community are the antique and collectible shops that offer old-world treasures for people looking to remember the past. Every now and then, however, you find a store like this that is different, unique in not only in the products it offers, but in its approach.
That is Valley Emporium in Carlton.
This shop is the very epitome of cool, bringing together different wines, sweets and, yes, antiques to downtown Carlton.
“This isn’t you grandmother’s antique shop,” said Valerie Anctil, one of the owners of the emporium. “We don’t have any chipped tea sets or blemished items – well, we will pick up something blemished if it is a one-of-a-kind, but our items are all things that we would want in our home.”
Instead of antiques, many of the items are what Anctil and her partner Jeff Lorton, call “vintage.” The shop is filled with items that date from the 1930s to the 1960s – and if you grew up in that time period, it’s like walking into a shop filled with memories.
For me, it was seeing books that I haven’t seen since I was a kid, and immediately I started thinking back to my childhood and reading them with my brother. That’s something that you don’t normally get walking into your garden-variety antique shop which carries items much older.
The theme for the store is “Wine, Art, Cool” and it’s an apt theme. Aligning much of the walls is art from European artists to local artists and there is a wide range of styles for people to pick from. A teak statue from Bali sits in the same room as a paintings from Crexon, a Spanish painter.
“We don’t have tea cups or milk cans,” Lorton said. “We only buy things that we like and we do our own buying. Sometimes it makes it tough to sell things we really like, but then we have the opportunity to find more things that are interesting.”
But if knick knacks, art, and books and signs don’t interest you, don’t worry, Valley Emporium is more than just a cool shop, it’s also a wine tasting room and excellent place to visit.
Lorton said the Emporium also has its own wine flight, Bigfoot Sangiovese/Syrah blend, Ghost Hill Pinot Noir Blanc, Gresser Pinot Noir and Riesling nad Carlton Cyderworks hard cider. He is very knowledgeable about wines and is very willing to help those new to the Yamhill Valley try different wines of the area.
“I like to call us ‘sympatico’ or friendly,” Lorton said. “We try to have a lot of fun and let people try things and see what they like and point them to other tasting rooms in the area they may enjoy. Carlton really is in the heart of wine country.”
But that isn’t all. Anctil was a pastry chef at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas and now uses the skills she picked up to make some of the most amazing desserts that pair perfectly with the wine. They are for sale if you have the opportunity to try one, suddenly you will want to visit Carlton every weekend.
With a table surrounded by cushy wine barrel chairs, a friendly smile and a willingness to talk and socialize, Valley Emporium is a great place to hang out, learn about wine, talk with new-found friends and buy some cool items if the mood strikes you. And that is exactly how the two owners like it.
“We have become something of a visitor center for Carlton because we are always promoting people’s events,” Anctil said. “We also put on events in Carlton too, so if you want to know what is going on, or help finding something, we are a great place to start.”
If for no other reason, visit Valley Emporium to see the giant painting of Sasquatch that adorns the store’s wine label.
“We try to have fun and offer quality products,” Lorton said.
About Valley Emporium: A 1,000-square-foot wine, sweet and vintage gift shop in downtown Carlton. They offer vintage art and other items from the 1930s through the 1960s and also have wine, sweets and a wall of brochures about tourist activities around Carlton and Yamhill County.
What to bring: This is inside so bring you sense of adventure and willingness to talk with the owners. They can give you some great advice on what to see and where to go, and also excellent suggestions about local area wines.
Tip: Give yourself some time to go through the store. I looked around for about 45 minutes and each time I made the rounds I noticed something new. It’s a great place to stop and take a break from visiting the Yamhill Valley.
Season: The store is open year-round.
Getting there: Valley Emporium is located at 215 W. Main Street in Carlton. It is in downtown Carlton and very easy to find in between other shops and restaurants.
By Patrick Johnson