Shopping in Phillip Northman’s booth, Z26XX, is an experience more akin to exploring a museum. Each item is individually tagged not just with the requisite name and price, but also with a brief history of its manufacturing or founding, sometimes extensively so. One can get caught up reading the tags and getting a history lesson, and some customers even ask to keep the tags because they are so in-depth and clearly lovingly researched.
With a background as an English professor, Phillip started in the antiques business as a collector, “as most of us do.” His first booth was in the old Atlanta Flea Market (our city’s very first and long-time sole flea market, now home to the Piedmont Marta rail station) selling antique and vintage postcards. He then worked for one of his postcard purveyors, travelling all over the southeast and learning “where all the good junk stores were.”
Phillip was drawn to modern design because it was equated with the finer things in life, being less decorative and well-manufactured, and items proliferated since most antique dealers didn’t know what to do with them. He taught himself about design which “wasn’t easy,” since it was when there was no internet, or even books on modernism. To learn, he would plant himself in the downtown Atlanta library in the rare book room and pore over old interior-related magazines from the 1930s-1950s. He’d study the ads mostly, as that was the closest source material he could get.
Phillip is in the store pretty regularly working in his booth. If you’re able to catch him, chat him up. He’s very fluent and knowledgeable about his wares, and in-person you get a sense of what just can’t be captured on a tag. Here are a few highlights from his booth: