Shelly Couey and Sharon Kagy Invite You to Hunt for Treasures at the Girlfriends Vintage Market

girlfriends vintage market
Friends Shelly Couey (left) and Sharon Kagy (right) have been hosting their Girlfriends Vintage Markets for nearly ten years.


By Kelli Samson

girlfriends vintage market
Friends Shelly Couey (left) and Sharon Kagy (right) have been hosting their Girlfriends Vintage Markets for nearly ten years.

When I was a kid, my mom was an antique’s dealer. This meant my weekends were spent combing auctions and estate sales across the countryside of Connecticut, hands in my pockets as instructed, and bored out of my mind.

No one is more surprised than I am that all of these decades later I am a lover of all things vintage. We’re talking Mason jars, plaid Thermoses, glittery 1940s Christmas ornaments, beat-up maps, and the very type of Pyrex I was embarrassed to take to college when my parents wanted to get rid of it.

My love affair with the Girlfriends Vintage Market began a couple years ago, and it’s where I go a few times a year to get creative inspiration, not to mention a trunk full of fun to bring home.

I now find myself eagerly awaiting each sale, posting it to my family’s calendar months in advance and making plans to attend with my friend Emily – sometimes my kids tag along, too.

At each Girlfriends Vintage Market, I run into the familiar faces, the moms of my girls’ friends, and the vendors whose treasures I’ve come to count on.

girlfriends vintage market
The spring and summer Girlfriends Vintage Markets are usually held at the enchanting Schilter Barn in Nisqually.

This is just the kind of spirit Girlfriends Vintage Market founders Shelly Couey and Sharon Kagy wanted to encourage when they had their first sale together in 2006. This market was borne of their friendship, and it heartens them to know it fosters those relationships in others.

“We’re very good girlfriends,” shares Kagy. “We have a great partnership,” adds Couey.

Kagy has run the Thurston County Flea Market at the Fairgrounds for years, and it was there that she and Couey first met. They bonded over their love of old dishes.

Couey started collecting in high school. Currently, she buys things that she wouldn’t mind having in her home if they don’t sell at the Girlfriends Vintage Market. For Kagy, it all began with a rusty old oil can she found near her bus stop in high school. “I still have it,” she says proudly.

“I love old things and wondering where they came from and how they were used,” she adds. “We both sell things that we love.”

When the two decided to host a sale together, the Thurston County Fairgrounds’ Heritage Hall fit the bill.

“We both had dreamed about doing something big,” says Kagy. “We peeked into the windows of the old Heritage Hall log building, and I told her, ‘This is where I really want to have a show someday. This building is so beautiful and has such great history.’ And she was totally on board. We started planning and scheming.”

Of their easy, natural partnership, Couey shares, “We really share the responsibilities in planning these events. It all depends on who has time.”

girlfriends vintage market
Couey and Kagy always look forward to creating new decor for the booth they share at each market. They recently displayed colorful bandanas in a bunting style at the Schilter Barn.

“When we first met, we both had younger kids,” adds Kagy. “When one of us has to pull back, the other pulls forward.”

After a visit to the Schilter Family Farm to hunt for a Christmas tree, Kagy was smitten by the old white barn. The Girlfriends Vintage Market has since been holding a couple of annual sales beneath the barn’s signature twinkle lights.

Both the Heritage Hall and the Schilter Barn offer their own delightful brand of magic. The Holiday Sale is always held at the Heritage Hall. Unlike the barn, it’s heated and fully enclosed, so it’s warm and cozy. Schilter Farm’s setting is perfect for the warmer weather of both early spring and late summer. They’ve got a great balance with both backdrops.

And the vendors? They’re the best of the best. They have to apply and be approved by the discerning eyes of Couey and Kagy before they get to rent a space. Most vendors come back sale after sale, so the spots are quite coveted.

“We love to spoil our vendors with lunch. We’re like a big, devoted family. You don’t always find that at shows,” says Kagy.

I can vouch for their delightful wares. I’ll put it to you this way – I never, ever leave a Girlfriends Vintage Market sale empty handed.

girlfriends vintage market
The upcoming Girlfriends Holiday Market will feature live music from Yodelady. Photo courtesy: Yodelady.

If you’re finding your curiosity now piqued, you’re in luck. The annual Girlfriends Holiday Market will be held November 13 and 14 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds’ Heritage Hall. Along with the area’s best vendors of vintage, the fine food of Ricardo’s will be served.

This year, the local, all-female band Yodelady will play live music during Friday night’s operating hours – 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. “I love Friday night’s hours. It’s dark and chilly and the music is playing,” smiles Kagy.

What’s next for girlfriends Couey and Kagy? After ten years at this, they are doing anything but slowing down. The attendance at their events is better than ever. They’re just getting warmed up. They’re looking into throwing in a fourth sale each year so that they hit each season.

Bring it on, girls. My calendar is at the ready. I’ll be there, along with a friend or two and probably my daughters.

But I cannot promise you they’ll keep their hands in their pockets.

girlfriends vintage market
The Girlfriends Holiday Market will be held at the Heritage Hall at the Thurston County Fairgrounds November 13 and 14.

To keep up with their market schedule, follow the Girlfriends on their Facebook page at Girlfriends Market.

Girlfriends Holiday Market

November 13, 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.

November 14, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Heritage Hall, Thurston County Fairgrounds

3054 Carpenter Road SE in Lacey

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