The traditional vintage store is getting an upgrade to catch up with savvier customers

Fashionista’s Maria Bobila reported on how the brick-and-mortar vintage store is reinventing itself for a new generation of customers who are savvier about not just technology, but the brands they’re searching for. She talked to Amanda Dolan and Meagan Colby, the owners of ‘90s-teen-dream boutique Spark Pretty and Gerard Maione, co-founder of What Goes Around Comes Around, about what vintage shoppers want out of a brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Here’s what we learned…

Curation is everything: In a time of countless vintage-hawking Instagram shops and “online resale growing at a 35 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate),” curation sets apart a business. “It’s not just a secondhand store or a bunch of designer stuff on the racks,” Maione told Fashionista. “Every single piece is selected as the best of the best in the world.”

How we define vintage: True vintage can be a hard-to-define thing when, let’s be real, ‘90s Tommy Hilfiger feels vintage. Last May, Racked reported, French designer clothing consignment site Vestiaire Collective launched a vintage division. In a promotional email, “vintage” was defined as “pieces designed at least 15 years ago.” Hermès Kelly bags in a rainbow of colors and Comme des Garçons were featured on the site.

In Fashionista’s story, Maione defined vintage as more of a cultivated, case-by-case thing. “What’s vintage? Does vintage have to be 25 years old?” he said. “Can vintage be a few years old? This Chanel bag is discontinued, it’s now a vintage bag. I think for us, it’s just elevating to a level and curating a selection down to a deeper place.”

Make it an experience: “Curation, a distinct point of view and an experiential atmosphere appear to be a winning combination among brick-and-mortars,” Fashionista writes. Spark Pretty feels like your dream ‘90s bedroom tucked away in an East Village storefront. It’s that immersive experience — Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Madonna posters on the walls, a gleaming disco ball, and a VHS playing all create an atmosphere that even the most curated Instagram can’t quite capture.

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