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Time should not be measured in numbers alone ­— objects reveal the workings of time in where they go, where they came from, what they look like and how they are used. A century-old item in a recently renovated building is enough to remind us that time is not in constant motion, and the past is not done passing.

Yet the first month of the semester has, in fact, lapsed. It may be October, but it's okay to admit you're still decorating your room — hey, we've got stuff to do! And the items you want — along with the knick-knacks you don't and won't ever need — may be closer to campus than Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Oddly enough, Red Bridge Antiques and Ferguson & D'Arruda just opened right across from each other on Wickenden Street, making for a total of four antique stores — and several craft stores — on the street. Why this sudden influx? Perhaps because people are willing to sell anything and everything in this economy.

Replete with gaudy jewelry, portraits of random colonial dudes, a dish of Werther's Originals and storage boxes fresh from a recent move-in, Red Bridge is a replica of your pack-rat grandmother's house. An air of nostalgia extends from the elegantly painted ceramic teapots in the display window to the huge plastic dog keeping guard in the back.

Ferguson & D'Arruda, currently moving in right across the street, looks more like an ancient collection in an art museum — minimalist and full of reds. Woven tapestries adorn the walls. This store also contains a bowl of candies.

If Red Bridge is your grandma's living room, Benefit St. Antiques is the dining room she keeps in better shape to entertain house guests. It looks more like a home decorating store than an antique shop. Whatever it is, it carries both the classiest and priciest of its peers. Have you ever lounged in a room with a moose-print armchair and a monkey print seat? Here you can.

Further east on Wickenden, Curiosities is the place to get your eccentric friend a cheap and silly birthday present. One could spend hours in this tiny hole in the wall before seeing the breadth of what covers the shelves. Fortunately, cheesy signs such as "Don't Be Smug, Buy a Mug" and "Just Say No To High Prices" — attributed to one by the name of Curious Cat — help draw your attention to specific items such as worn-but-not-torn clothes and key-shaped hair clips. It's also the only antique shop with a Halloween decoration display.

What Cheer, on the other hand, is anxious for Christmas, with a Santa statuette greeting visitors as they walk into a hall so narrow that those with backpacks must walk single file to avoid knocking anything over.

This South Angell Street and Wayland Square store wins the award for charm. It calls its vintage photographs "ephemera" — slightly more sophisticated than the choose-your-own-relatives gimmick employed by Curiosities to entice customers to buy photographs of random people. Many of What Cheer's photographs look like they belong in your grandparents' high school yearbooks. Did they even have yearbooks back then? Others are artful Rhode Island relics, like the self-explanatorily titled "Providence Boys w/ Kittens."

The shop also features a room full of records, a postcard collection organized by U.S. state and books from the 1960s and 1970s with titles like "It's Fun to Fondue." It also features something that may not exist anywhere else: a shelf full of "cinnamon and sugar shakers."

Though not an antique shop per se — I don't think anyone has figured out how to classify it — Friend's Market on Brook Street deserves honorable mention. Along with onions, candy bars and everything else in the world, there's also quite the collection of quirky dishware.

Oh, one more thing. A word of advice before you frequent any of the above establishments: As humans, we tend to forget that buying something we don't need, even at the highest discount, is still more expensive than buying nothing at all. Do with that what you will.


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