A vintage item has rich history — a grandmother’s rocking chair, a cocktail dress from the ’50s, a typewriter. Vintage is a kind of vantage point for conscientious shoppers who buy local, and vintage shops are part of an enthusiastic and artistic subculture in Spokane.
On Small Business Saturday, the American Express’ sponsored holiday shopping day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, six shops basked in success and shared their stories of fond Christmas memories. The store owners also shared their support for the other stores, located within a five-block radius.
“We say, ‘Hey, have you been to Two Women Vintage?’ We send people over to Artemis … I don’t care what anybody says. It’s smart business,” said Pink Salvage Gallery business owner Lana Neuman.
That encouragement is what rallied a successful campaign and event, the Holiday Shop Hop, hosted Nov. 16 and 17. The female owners of each store reported successful business then, on Small Business Saturday, and have high hopes for the holiday season.
I see First Avenue as vintage block, with a distinct difference. Monroe Street is antique and vintage, both in style and definitions of what constitutes as vintage. To me, Monroe Street caters to the antique shopper, whereas First Avenue has repurposed, resalvaged and retailored clothing from a few decades past.
At Carousel Vintage, 110 S. Cedar St., Jenny Stabile owns a collection of fine, one-of-a-kind vintage items in mint condition that come from the middle part of the century — ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Her idea of “vintage” pertains to items about 30 years ago. During Small Business Saturday, Stabile appreciated the push from American Express and could see an improvement in people’s awareness of the idea to shop local.
“People are becoming more aware of the campaign itself,” and “[it] made people aware of shopping local from wherever they are,” Stabile said. Stabile explained how vintage can “fit” into a personal style. Since an item is one of a kind, it can be easily added to any outfit.
The holidays are a time to dress up, Stabile said. Her favorite holiday memory is about clothes, especially regarding sleepwear her mother sewed. Stabile has eight siblings and they would wake up Christmas morning to newly sewn pajamas hung by the Christmas tree, which goes to show style and comfort are always in season.
Originally from Tucson, Ariz., Dianna Chelf began selling vintage as a hobby with her daughter Fielding. Chelf solders bottle cap necklaces for their store Two Women Art & Antique Shop, 112 S. Cedar St. Chelf also considers vintage to be about 30 years old. The Chelfs recently moved their star from a barn out on the Palouse, and are hosting Two Women Barn Bazaar on Dec. 1. Chelf has had many enjoyable Christmas memories. She said she enjoys celebrating a more traditional Christmas holiday.
Amby Designs, 111 S. Cedar St., has been open for seven weeks but has blended into the vintage neighborhood near the corner of First Avenue and Cedar Street. Amby Designs is up-cycled, repurposed and urban rustic furniture décor and gifts “for a beautiful unique home,” and is owned by Amy Charbonneau and Abby Franklin. Multiple items are available under $10 for stocking stuffers. Unique items sold include tables, a menora, bench and tables made from recycled bowling alley lanes by AlleyCraft.
Molly Anderson, an assistant at Fringe & Fray, 1325 W. First Ave., owned by Grace and Ryan Johnson, explained how the owners refurbish and redo a lot of design. The store is based on a percentage system where merchandise is donated with a cash return or 20 percent in store credit.
Anderson explained that the store owners wanted to open up a thrift shop that was in-between, a store that was like a boutique but was cheap and affordable. Anderson is also one of eight kids and holidays always brought in loads of cousins, who one year put on a Christmas play for the family.
The transformed Empyrean that closed down at 154 S. Madison St. a few years ago has been an excellent, historically registered space for Pink Salvage Gallery. Owners Chris Lynch and Lana Neuman work with a team of talented individuals who contribute to business, make beautiful items by hand and have ideas on salvaging, such as taking a metal piece and turning it into a dining table. Pink recently celebrated a customer appreciation party where supportive members were lined up out the door back to the store’s double doors.
The store hosted an evening that showed a clearly supportive and tight-knit connection between the customers and the owners. Pink’s building used to be a fur trade store, where furs and hides were delivered and kept in a vault, now used as part of the store’s many glittery displays for the holiday seasons.
“Vintage is anything that has a story attached to it from the past,” said Kris Mack, owner of Artemis at 1021 W. First Ave. Artemis stocks with local art (Catherine Freshley paintings on the wall), Elf shoes, Leland furniture from Portland along with some clothing items, Veda Luxe jewelry and other items that are new to the eye as nostalgic as the story each item embodies. The ornamental display conveys that.
Mack describes the sweet, nostalgic look from ornaments from 1950s because of rich colors, a comfort in a mass-produced world where colors are bland. The ornaments symbolize a look back to childhood memories of the holidays.
Mack experienced a convergence of two beautiful traditions growing up — her father, from North Dakota, is Lutheran, and her mother is Jewish and Moroccan. So she traditionally celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas.
“That in itself is special,” she said.