Antiques are a glimpse into the past, and no one can tell you that better than Rita Starnes, owner of Fourth Street Antiques in Old Town Temecula.

“The ones you can still use today or that you can re purposed for something else today are really wonderful. They’re wood, they were made well, they’re beautiful,” said Starnes.

Temecula used to be known as an antique capital, and it’s hard not to smile when you dig into Rita’s trove of treasures. The Old West feel of her antique mall that takes customers back in time is symbolic of a changing Old Town that’s seeing bigger businesses like bars, restaurants and hotels that are replacing smaller shops.

That stark contrast of her store, now squeezed between big buildings, is fitting of how booming cities have to balance the old and the new. Temecula is one of the fastest growing cities in Southern California, and new, bigger businesses catering to tourism can make antiques shops like Rita’s less visible.

“Things evolve based on population. And I think the city of Temecula’s done a great job trying to preserve a lot of its original heritage, but with growth comes bigger commerce. And it’s just kind of like the way it happens,” said Jerry, a Temecula resident.

She says over half the antique stores that used to be in Old Town weren’t able to keep up with rising rents. She owns Fourth Street and has been able to stay afloat thanks to a loyal clientele. Tourists from all over still find her door, and when they do it shows you that her shop still has a place in the ever-changing landscape.

“Every piece is unique, and there’s only one of each piece which makes it special. You know that not everybody has the same thing at home when you buy it here,” says a tourist named Pat.

It’s hard to put a price on things that are one-of-a-kind.