If you haven’t been to Zap Props and you live in Chicago, you’ve got to make it there. Its a 32,000 square foot antique store and prop house located on the South Side of Chicago, famous for providing props to most of the Hollywood movies filmed in Chicago.
Zap Props is owned and run by William (Bill) Rawski a tall, friendly, slightly grizzled talk-a-mile-a-minute enthusiast who started out repairing Pin Ball machines and then over time switched to buying and selling just about anything. In 1981 he opened Zap Props so that he could rent out his wares. In the time that he’s been open he’s rented out props to movies such as The Road to Perdition, A League of Their Own, Transormers 3, and many many others.
This guy is a true picker and he loves sharing war stories and wisdom. He regaled us with a story of buying a huge pallet of beer cans on the cheap, stacked to the sky, and then slowly selling them individually over time, some to collectors for hundreds of dollars each, and others to restaurant franchises like Fudruckers and The Tilted Kilt.
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When we visited, we were completely blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the place. Its three floors, stacked high and deep, of every vintage item you could possibly imagine. There’s a room full of weapons, rows and rows of tables and chairs, more porcelain signs than you can shake a stick at; everything you can imagine.
The first floor contains a print shop, a woodworking studio, and miscellaneous vintage and antique items for sale. If you’re there to purchase, the first floor is probably what you’re looking for. Its packed so deep that its honestly hard to get around. The organization of the first floor is jampacked and haphazard. But while you think you’re in a junk room, upon closer inspection its rather organized. The basement is full of mostly more industrial and furniture. There are rooms and rooms of porcelain signs. Bill makes American Pickers look like a joke. The top floor is strictly for prop rental. This room has some of the truly unique pieces, as well as items that can be seen in feature length films.
There were a lot of items there that I would love to have, but I always have to pinch myself and remember that I’m buying to sell. But for someone looking for that must have piece, this is the place to go. A good time was had by all.