by Jillian Netherland | photography by Brewster Burns

In 1977, Dan Poulin opened the gates of Orphan Annie’s Antiques and welcomed the public into his antique object wonderland for the first time. 45 years and three shops later, Orphan Annie’s array of treasures continues to mesmerize customers throughout LA and beyond.


A growing appreciation

Poulin’s passion for collecting rare trinkets began at a young age, finding beauty in the oft-overlooked little things.

“Growing up, I had a dresser next to my bed and kept the bottom drawer as a space to save little trinkets I would find or people would give me,” Poulin recalls. “I couldn’t tell you what was in there – I’m sure nothing of value – but I was always drawn to the look, colors, and quality of older things, which made up my early collections.”

As Poulin grew up, so did his love for collecting antiques. Poulin put this avocation to work, opening the first Orphan Annie’s in a non-heated building in Lewiston. Though these humble beginnings provided the launch pad for Orphan Annie’s as a business, it wasn’t long before Poulin and his antiques outgrew the location. When a building in Auburn became available, Poulin packed his treasure trove and moved Orphan Annie’s to the iconic Court Street location that is known and loved today.

“I started off with one small room, then graduated to taking up an entire floor,” Poulin shares, reflecting upon the store’s growth. “One floor expanded into two, then became three, then in 2002, I purchased the building and opened the wall between the original two separate stores inside – leading to the full store you see today.”

While the spacious storefront on Court Street remains Orphan Annie’s flagship location, Poulin’s talent and eye for legendary antiques cannot be contained to a single building, leading to the addition of Orphan Annie’s Furniture Warehouse Auburn Novelty Shop. Located at 122 Turner Street, this second venue boasts an additional three floors of storage capacity.


Everything in its place

One would think managing two buildings filled to the brim with antique clothing, jewelry, glass, pottery, furniture, and so much more would be a head-spinning challenge to organize, but not for a pro like Poulin, who has his method down to a science. For example, cameo pins have their own shelf within a dedicated pin section, whereas cigarette cases and lighters are in a separate section of the store. Another section of the store is dedicated to sterling silver items, while more expansive categories, such as glass, are divided into subcategories like molded glass or cut glass.

“We have lamps strewn throughout the store for ambience, but everything else is in its own place,” shares Poulin. “It makes it easier for me, and the customers, too.”

Old Bottles at Orphan Annies Antiques in Auburn Maine
Old buttons at Orphan Annies Antiques - Court St. Auburn Maine
Orphan Annie's Auburn Maine Antiques
Things to match your style. Orphan Annies

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure

With a several decade career in collecting and selling antiques that span centuries in age, it’s only natural that at least a few items would shine bright in Poulin’s memories over the years. 

A fan himself of Barnstone Osgood, Poulin purchased cabinets from the upscale gift shop – known for its crystal – but had his eyes set on something more colorful.

“They had a wonderful, elegant art deco lamp in the window, and I would always stop to look at it,” Poulin recollects. “After many years, I finally bought it.”

Poulin’s affinity for the items at Barnstone Osgood didn’t end there. When the store closed its doors permanently, Poulin purchased the store’s showcases as well as a number of non-crystal, art deco style chandeliers.

“Two of those chandeliers went on to be purchased by a couple in New Jersey, whose house was later featured in Architectural Digest Magazine,” Poulin shares. “The photos showed the two chandeliers from my shop hanging over their dining room table.”

Poulin still proudly displays two of these fixtures in the windows of the Court Street storefront – their significance shared between Poulin and a local family with a special connection to them.

“The family that once owned Barnstone Osgood stopped in to share how happy it made them to see the chandeliers hanging in the window display,” Poulin shares. “It reminds them of when their father owned the building and the store.”


Once in a lifetime

In addition to memorable objects, Poulin has also experienced his share of memorable customers, including celebrities. One such customer was Kate Pierson of the B-52s, who left Poulin an autographed picture after purchasing a pair of reverse-painted lamps – items that were just as meaningful to Poulin as the visit from Pierson.

“The lamps had glass domes, and was painted on the inside backwards, so when you look at the seam, it looks correct,” explains Poulin. “The seam looked like a boat in the middle of the ocean, looking out onto waves. I haven’t seen lamps like that since.” 


A world of curiosities at your fingertips

Whether you’re an antique connoisseur yourself, seeking eclectic house goods or unique collectibles, or simply interested in seeing Poulin’s captivating selection of curated antiques in person, Orphan Annie’s is a must-visit location on any LA bucket list. The thought and care put into the window display alone adds value on which no one could assign a price – step inside, decompress while getting lost in the magic, and maybe find your own special treasure to accompany you home.


Orphan Annie’s Antiques

Auburn |