The Vintage Advantage
By Ellen Mayer
To many, vintage shopping sounds like a daunting activity—a commitment of time and energy. It sounds like you’ll be faced with cluttered clothing racks, gratuitous tulle, outdated sizing, and judgmental hipster shop clerks, and like it might be easier to peruse the Urban Outfitters bargain basement instead. Here are four local vintage shops that are worth a visit, despite it all. We’ve done half the work for you, so take the plunge.
22 College Ave., Somerville, MA
Just down the street from campus, Artifaktori is the obvious first choice for vintage shopping. You’d be surprised, however, how few Tufts students have ventured inside. Perfect for the inexperienced vintage shopper, the shop is small, clutter-free, and well organized, with very helpful staff. The store does have men’s clothing, but its highlights are the inexpensive costume jewelry collection and the women’s dresses and skirts. The latter are more expensive, but they are also the kinds of styles that Urban Outfitters imitates for double the price.
1704 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
Every college girl this side of the Charles should know about Raspberry Beret. It’s a consignment shop where you can find a designer skirt for $40 or a vintage dress for $24. There is usually only one vintage rack at the back of the store, but the selection is always wonderful. Organized by era, the rack tends toward retro housedresses and velvet evening gowns. Right now, they also have an impressive collection of ’60s A-line plaid wool skirts. The store also puts together seasonal collections. Last winter, they had a rack devoted to vintage Christmas sweaters, and they’re currently displaying vintage Halloween costumes outside on the street.
Great Eastern Trading Company
49 River Street, Cambridge, MA
Just a few blocks from Central Square, Eastern Trading Co. is less convenient but definitely worth the trek if you’re Halloween shopping. A messy and eclectic mix of vintage items, belly-dance accoutrements, and general costume gear, the store has something for everyone, if you can find it. With some rummaging, you’re likely to uncover vintage suede fringe skirts, beaded ’80s blouses, pretty coats, and cowboy button-downs. The store also has an extensive mask and hat collection. Prices are all over the board, but tend to be college-budget appropriate; there’s even a $10-and-under rack. The owner, as eccentric as her wares, is friendly and helpful (no pretentious hipsters here). Be warned that it takes persistence and a good eye to locate the gems among the clutter.