I love vintage stores. I hate their smell. I don't like shopping in basements, garages or sketchy back rooms. I'd rather not stumble blindly through dimly lit spaces, crashing into disorganized racks of retro garments.
So for me, 69 Vintage was literally a breath of fresh air. Not only did it lack that "vintage store smell," but it was also bright, open and quaintly decorated. Retro furniture and props like an old-fashioned 80's boom box added charm and nostalgia to the space.
But what I found most unique about 69 Vintage was their devotion to personal attention. Owner Kealan Sullivan says they are as much about selling a service as they are about selling merchandise.
"We provide an outlet for creativity and expression," she said. And to ensure that that creativity and expression is given full reign to flourish, the girls at 69 Vintage will fix and alter clients' garments. "I once hand-altered a customer's dress hours before her Sweet 16 party," Sullivan said.
The personal attention still goes way beyond alterations. This is helpful for vintage shoppers such as I. Though I consider myself fairly competent when comes to putting pieces together, it's been rumoured I once emerged in public wearing a pair of beat-up cowboy boots and a flapper dress. I guess we all need a little help sometimes.
And help is what 69 Vintage delivers. "What we try to do is give the customer a vision," said manager Maggie Groat. "We help them find what works for them, how to alter it, add a belt, or pick out jewelry or shoes."
And there certainly are plenty of items to pick from. I believe the drooling began when I noticed the huge selection of women's dresses. My favourite was a retro ice-blue pleated dress priced at $45. I also noticed a great assortment of shoes and boots. A pair of hot pink flats for $30 caught my eye, as well was a pair of black cowboy boots (best not paired with a flapper dress) for $56. I also tried on a fabulous 1980's jean jacket ($40) that looked like it came straight from the set of the old "Degrassi Junior High."
The men's pieces were equally as drool-inducing. Though I don't think I could pull off the 1970's blue checkered sport coat ($50) I noticed walking in, I only wish my prom date had been cool enough to ditch the tux for it. That or a great pair of purple corduroy Levi's for $40.
Though Emily Haines and the boys from Broken Social Scene are familiar faces at 69 Vintage, the prices are comparable to other vintage stores. The average item is $50. "There's not much over $150," Sullivan said. "And I always have a $10 rack."