The world of vintage goods is colorful, quirky, cool and maybe right around the corner. If you haven’t ventured into that world yet, there are at least nine good reasons to give it a go.
1. Get a distinctive look.
Even if your housemates are also vintage shoppers, you’re not going to end up with the same Ramones t-shirt. Nope. No accidental twins. No “here’s-our-uniform-this-season” look.
2. Get back to your hunter-gatherer roots.
The Chippewa Valley has a terrific selection of vintage stores. Just the same, you may have to work a little bit to find something that works for you – the perfect hippie inspired earrings, for instance. It’s the opposite of going to the mall or even to the grocery store. But who walks off with a bag of groceries feeling like they’ve just made a conquest?
3. Go off grid, or maybe just off rack.
There’s a little bit of “sticking it to the man” when you go vintage. You won’t allow the corporate world to decide what you wear simply by limiting styles to what’s trending now. If you want to trend 1965 instead, go right ahead and do it.
4. And then there are hats.
If you happen to be a hat wearing person, you know what I mean. Some of us want to wear hats, or shave with a folding, straight edge razor, or mix cocktails from our bar cart. In other words, if you have a special interest, you might need to go vintage in order to pursue it.
5. Mix it up, generation-wise.
Most antique items are at least 100 years old, but vintage items are at least 20 years old. This means vintage items reflect life as lived in near generations. Depending on how old you are, you could both channel your grandmother and confuse your mother when you buy that vintage lamp. You could collect vintage vinyl and discover your father singing along to them. Or you could find yourself sifting through books that you remember reading under the covers by flashlight as you stand right along side an enthusiast of a younger generation.
6. Own a piece of the past.
Chances are, you won’t be buying a piece of the Sputnik satellite, but your vintage finds were significant to someone. Some child loved that Gilligan’s Island lunch box. If you buy it, you own a little bit of cultural history and some personal history as well.
7. Starve the dumpster.
Buying vintage keeps good stuff from becoming garbage.
8. Support your local economy.
Let’s say there’s a woman from Durand who’s settling a family estate. She hires an auctioneer from Menomonie to run the auction. A picker from Mondovi attends the auction and purchases a kitchen table. The picker sells the table to the owner of a vintage store in Eau Claire, who sells it to a family in Altoona. The family is now happy with their awesome vintage table. The woman from Durand, the auctioneer from Menomonie, the picker form Mondovi and the storeowner from Eau Claire are also happy.
9. Keep local treasures local.
The vintage dress you admired in a shop down the street was most likely worm by a woman who lived within 100 miles of Eau Claire. That funky aluminum Christmas tree was saved for years by a family in Chippewa County. That plaid sport coat was proudly worn by a general surgeon who worked for a local hospital. All of these great items can stay in the Eau Claire area. Or they can be sold to people in New York, Los Angeles, Munich, or thousands of other cities that are not Eau Claire.
There you have it: Nine good reasons to go vintage. Here’s a final one: There are amazing vintage shops in and around the Chippewa Valley, offering just about any type of vintage item you could want. Find a few of them and give them a try!
Sue Derfus owns Spaced Out Furnishings (spacedoutfurnishings.com), a vintage shop specializing in mid-century modern and vintage industrial decorating styles. It’s now located in the 200 Main Gallery in downtown Eau Claire.