Contributed by Jessica Pollack
If you ever find yourself walking near Queen and Roncesvalles , the most common thing you'll see lining the sidewalks is antique chairs, desks, armoires and so on. But on the south side of Queen you may be pleasantly surprised (if you aren't already a steady customer, that is) to find a rack of vintage goodies and a slew of retro carryalls perched on the sidewalk outside of Stella Luna.
After 12 years, this vintage treasure is happily nestled in its community, with many local, regular customers and a following beyond the west end that spans from fashion and vintage enthusiasts (of the layman variety) to fashion editors and stylists.
I have been stopping into Stella sporadically for years now and never seem to be able to leave empty handed, although on my most recent visit I was devastated to find the light blue jumper I wanted was too small and the three-quarter length tunic with multicolored stripes that caught my eye was too big (seriously, if any of you are petite and a size 24 or 25, go look for a blue jumper with full length pants and a button-up, sleeveless bodice - it's adorable!).
Why, you ask, would anyone make the trek to Queen and Roncesvalles when there are so many more central vintage stores? The reasons are plentiful. For one, owner Crispian Underwood stocks the store exclusively with hand-picked items spanning from the 40's to the 80's. "Quality is a priority" says Janice Coupland, who shares the space with Crispian. This isn't your average "denim and poly" Kensington vintage; pieces are carefully selected, well-preserved and thoughtfully organized by color.
Stella is also well-stocked with of-the-moment accessories: costume jewelry, shoes, hats, sunglasses and bags, which are so popular they boast a fan-base that extends to New York, Los Angeles and London. I still covet a vintage Dior clutch that I bought at Stella Luna years ago for little over $20.
Still not convinced? Aside from displaying fabulous seasonal items on the store's small, main floor, below the surface is a vintage goldmine. Stella Luna has a basement full of amazing formalwear, off-season items and other special pieces - customers shopping for an occasion rarely, if ever, leave Stella empty-handed.
To add accessory to ensemble, so to speak, the price tags are Stella Luna's piece de resistance. While Stella accepts cash only, tax is included and prices range from $6 for a pair of earrings to $68 for the most intricate evening gowns. More importantly, and most uniquely I think, prices are extremely consistent for a store that carries items carefully selected by Crispian and Janice in a labor of love. All the dresses I tried on recently were $28 and skirts were $24. Bags consistently sell for $24 and shoes go for $26. "Customers don't have to think about the price", says Janice. "If they love it, they take it".
With an extensive stock of individually-selected vintage pieces and prices like these, it's no wonder Stella Luna has attracted such a loyal clientele while maintaining its position off the beaten track.