At just 16-years-old, Robin Gilmore stood at the bottom of the staircase in Nellie Dunn’s Vintage Clothing Store on Springfield’s historic C-Street with one thing on her mind.
“I remember standing at the back stairs looking up the stairway and thinking, ‘man I wish I owned this,’ and so I’ve alway been kind of drawn to this area,” said Gilmore.
Decades later, Gilmore was driving down C-Street and noticed a for sale sign in that very same building where she’d had that dream so long ago. And with that, Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase came to C-Street and has become a popular place for locals and visitors alike.
“I saw this street as a place that was really coming about,” said Gilmore. “With lots of foodie places and antique stores and just felt like it was the perfect time to move here.”
The elaborate storefront is an indication of what you’re about to experience in Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase — and as you walk in, the sensory overload delivers. A beautiful blown-glass sculpture hangs from the ceiling and every available space is filled with everything from home decor to clothing to antiques.
“I wanted people to come in and be wowed by not just the good food and merchandise, but also by the experience and I wanted it to be unique and different than any place else I had ever been,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore’s Tea Room, set within the intricate displays of the market, fills up from 11a.m.-3 p.m. with diners enjoying quiches, soups, sandwiches, salads and more. There’s also a dessert counter complete with lemon bars, truffles, macaroons, cookies, cakes and even ice cream.
Gilmore says the transformation she’s witnessed on C-Street since opening her store has been inspiring.
“To me, it has just done a total turnaround,” she said “Buildings that had been empty are now being renovated and we have some more restaurants coming in and we’re getting more antique stores, more shopping and merchandise stores. It’s just is a neat historical district — a really unique one that needs to be preserved.”
Ms. Gilmore’s Vintage Suitcase and Tea Room is certainly unique to Springfield and according to Gilmore, it’s perhaps one of the most unique antique and flea markets in the world. A visit to C-Street isn’t complete without a visit to whimsical world of Robin Gilmore.
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