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How a pair of dreamers intend to stand out in Snohomish

Doug Ramsay photo

Shop owners Dianne Burrington (left) and Virginia Rogers share a laugh in front of their new shop, “Once Upon a Time,” in the old Alcazar Theater on First Street in Snohomish.

SNOHOMISH — The exterior of Once Upon a Time, Snohomish’s newest antique store on 609 First Street, is rustic, even archaic, but that’s part of its charm.
It’s in homage to the 125-year-old building’s history as the former Alcazar Theatre in particular, and our American heritage circa the early 20th century in general. Its proprietors, Dianne Burrington and Virginia Rogers, first met while standing in line at an estate sale, which is when they learned of their mutual love of collectibles. They tag-teamed to become business partners.
Burrington, once a custodian for the Snohomish
School District, said running Once Upon a Time is her dream job and that she’s loved antiquing since childhood. 
“It’s been on my bucket list,” as she put it. 
Building owner Jim McGinty, a Snohomish resident since the 1970s, said he decided to rent it to Burrington because of “the first impression” he had of her. He spoke of “the passion and ambition” she demonstrated from the onset. With a replaced roof and a recently added concrete foundation, McGinty went out of his way to preserve what was once The Alcazar, which had its opening night on Nov. 11, 1892, so for him to believe in Burrington and Rogers speaks volumes about them.
When asked what sets Once Upon a Time apart, Burrington pointed out how — barring a couple of exceptions — most of the competition “has gone from antique to ‘boutique’.” 
Her store provides supplies for an enterprising person such as rarities and necessities for a variety of projects, be it lanterns, barn doors, egg incubators, rowing oars or spare parts for furniture (re)construction.
A source of pride was a coat rack with thread spools which were recycled into hooks.
With its assortment of old trunks, gold mining pans and cupboards for canning, there’s an old western sensibility to Once Upon a Time and that’s because Burrington was raised on a farm that grew berries and wrangled horses.
There’s also intriguingly what she referred to as “the men’s section,” where aspiring blacksmiths will find ample material to work with, such as casting molds and giant iron wrenches. One could call it a creative outlet for arts and crafts where “the prices are fair.”
In addition, there’s a small but delightful library with vintage magazines, atlases and encyclopedias, as well as books about the legendary musician, John Lennon. Rogers is responsible for that. She’s also an expert quilter who specializes in linens and can advise people who want to sew.
Finally, there’s fine china and porcelain figurines of avians tastefully placed along the establishment to round everything out.
Burrington plans on expanding Once Upon a Time, so that by the spring of 2018, it will be larger and more plentiful than ever. 
Once Upon a Time is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
The shop is located at 609 First Street in Snohomish and the building is recognizable with large signs from bygone eras tacked onto it.
The shop is on Facebook at


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