King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center Has the Gift You Never Knew You Needed

Featured image credit: King Richard’s Antique Center

What do you get that special someone who has everything? Something no one else has, of course. Easier said than done in the highly manufactured modern world. Sure, you can take your chances on Etsy or eBay. But if you want more security along with the spontaneity of the good old fashioned browsing experience, then set your sights on Whittier. There you’ll find a veritable mecca of one-of-a-kind antique got-to-haves. And a fair amount of never-knew-it-existeds. Golden age toys share space with original art. Antique furniture competes for attention with vintage vinyl. You could walk away with an aluminum Christmas tree, a haunted ventriloquist dummy, or a cherry dresser with metal Chinese dragon handles. The only thing we can say for certain is you won’t leave with empty hands. When it’s gift-giving time, no one beats the king. King Richard that is. Welcome to King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center. 

The Largest Antique Mall in California

Photo credit: King Richard’s Antique Center

Before you even set foot in King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center, you’ll notice that it’s big. And that’s an understatement. The facility holds the title of the largest antique mall in California. And if you want that in hard numbers, imagine 302 vendor spots crammed into 57,000 square feet. Trust us when we say that items utilize every inch of table space. Across the mall’s four floors, you’ll find pretty much every vintage curiosity you could imagine… and even more you’d never consider. 

King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center has been owned by Chuck (a retired aerospace project manager) and Martha Garcera since 2008. However, when you visit the sprawling collection, you’re more likely to run into any number of the over 160 vendors that hock their wares under the same a-frame roof. These curiosity curators are a welcome sight when attempting to navigate the labyrinthine corridors of King Richard’s. Looking for a specific period of vintage goods, like Midcentury? They can point you in the right direction. 

Services Offered at King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center

But you’ll find more than antique artifacts in King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center. On any given day, you could roll up to the building to have your heirloom cuckoo clock repaired or a professional jeweler inspect that ring your grandmother swears holds a genuine Graff diamond. If appraising interests you, you can even take classes through the College of Appraisers that meets at King Richard’s. 

Photo credit: King Richard’s Antique Center

A Hunger That Goes Beyond Antique Hunting

Unless you have a steel will, you’re likely to spend a couple hours enthralled by the mysterious menagerie. So when you inevitably emerge hungry, you can take advantage of the general store at King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center. Artisanal jams and jellies catch the light from glass mason jars. Small-batch chocolates, caramels and assorted candies tempt you from the shelves. You can even find vintage treats for sale that you’d forgotten even existed in keeping with the antique mall’s fixation on yesteryear. 

But if you need more than a snack to tide you over, pay a visit to Rey’s Little Kitchen. This popular breakfast spot has started flirting with dinner hours, but historically was only open until 2pm. Specializing in Mexican and American cuisines, Rey’s remains in-demand even among those Whittier residents who’ve met their antique quota for the moment. But the restaurant is attached to the King Richard’s building and shares parking with the mall. 

A History in Citrus

The building that houses King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center was constructed sometime between 1902 and 1903, when some of its antiques weren’t even a fired synapse in their creators’ minds. In those days, it wasn’t an antique emporium. Rather, it was a massive citrus packing facility, taking advantage of the bountiful orchards Whittier boasted at the time. If you look closely, you may still find points throughout King Richard’s where the original wooden construction peeks through. 

Photo credit: King Richard’s Antique Center

The building served as a citrus packing facility until 1951 when its history fell into obscurity. At least until 1979 when the property was purchased with the idea of turning it into a vast mall offering antiques and collectibles. It was rechristened King Richard’s Antique Center, finding inspiration in the name of the new owner. But even as that king’s reign has come to an end, the kingdom he built continues to thrive under the ownership of the Garceras. 

The Ghosts of King Richard’s

It makes sense that the past follows you once you enter King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center. For some, that’s allegedly more of a literal experience than it is for others. Rumors run rampant that the basement and an area toward the rear of the facility are haunted by the ghosts of deceased citrus packers. The legend continues that one of these workers was crushed to death by falling appliances while the other accidentally locked themselves in a walk-in freezer. Tales abound of freezing spots, mysteriously animated objects, and shadowy figures prowling these areas in the wee hours. But if anything, the myths only contribute to the odd wonder of King Richard’s.  

Photo credit: King Richard’s Antique Center

Know Before You Go

So, if you’re in search of a gift you’re certain won’t be duplicated, King Richard’s Vintage Antique Center can certainly accommodate. Just plan accordingly. Weekends can find guests visiting in the hundreds to peruse the vintage goods on offer. The site is also popularly used as a filming location, so it’s worth calling ahead if you’re not a Whittier local. And if someone grabs that antique harlequin brooch or vintage record of Inuit throat singing before you get the chance, don’t worry. There’s something equally amazing just around the next corner. 

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