If you think virtual vintage shops have shot up recently like dandelions on an April lawn, you’re not wrong. Lockdown has spawned a bumper crop of online retailers who sell pre-loved home goods, to the delight of folks trying to furnish a home when in-store shopping is banned. On top of convenience, the appeal of vintage furniture and accessories is its sustainability, says Larisa Mancini, who earlier this year launched @shoppe.clover, an online furnishings and decor shop.
“It cobbles together reusing with the ethical aspects of supporting local businesses,” she suggests. Then there’s the added charm of personality, and origins. “You get a taste for the stories that come with the pieces,” says Mancini, “and how they have been passed down.”
Mancini’s entry into online selling met with immediate success, and she now posts weekly collections of items on Instagram.
“Stuff often sells within a couple of days—if they don’t sell there, I try other sites,” she says. “I am still new, so I’m experimenting with what works.” She currently offers curbside pickup and delivery for a fee.
Mancini’s experience as a public relations/social media co-ordinator for several years with décor/design retailer HomeSense, taught her how to make a piece “stand out in a crowd.”
It’s a useful skill with items in the estate sales she sources from, which are often not well styled. “You need an eye what will look beautiful in a different setting,” she says.
It also helps that Mancini’s partner has some woodworking and refinishing skills, and that she herself has “a little bit” of experience with refinishing and reupholstering. She hopes to work more with those and other trades once the world returns to normal, and to do vintage shows or weekend pop ups. In the meantime, she’s learning and networking.
“I’ve been able get acquainted with several other shops. I think as long as you are selling desirable pieces that are true to your own style and you kind of have the social media thing under your belt, you have a good chance of success,” says Mancini.
Katrina Huang opened Viridi in the summer of 2020, when the process of looking for cute plant pots prompted her to create a line of sustainable, handmade rattan and spun-bamboo pots.
While waiting for stock, Huang began thrifting interesting vintage pieces, which she decided to sell. Instagram posts, she says, quickly began to gain “way more traction” than she had expected.
Her site now includes attractive, functional retro items, along with the original line of pots. Spaces that incorporate vintage beautifully, and interviews with the people who created them serve as inspiration for shoppers.
Vintage is popular across Canada. In the Vancouver area, for example, writer, traveller, and pop-culture junkie Waheeda Harris points to spots in her home province like @LyricsVintage and @Stepback_ca as great sources.
Toronto-based PR maven Jennifer Thompson loves spending weekends looking for vintage furniture, accessories, and art for the converted church in eastern Ontario she’s renovating. (Follow that adventure on her @SilverSteepleHouse Instagram account.) She can’t wait, she says, until she can visit Finnegan’s Market in Hudson, Quebec, where she’ll wander happily among antiques, collectibles, and hand-crafts.