Stepping through the doors of Era Vintage & Sustainable Goods is a bit like stepping back in time, and that's exactly what the owners of the store want you to feel.
The new store, located in the lower northeast corner near the former Sears wing inside Georgian Mall, recently hosted its official grand opening on Aug. 16.
The store boasts ever-changing racks of vintage and pre-owned clothing, toys and other unique goods that the owners hope will bring shoppers a sense of nostalgia as they make their way through the store.
Anthony Pesino, one of four partners responsible for bringing Era Vintage to the city, tells BarrieToday the group of owners met at pop-up sales over the years and decided to come together after realizing they all shared the same work ethic and dream to open a physical store.
“We went all around the Toronto area and were close to getting a lease in a few places, but we could have been one in a thousand vintage stores there," he says. "We started looking outside of the GTA at areas that might be under-serviced for this booming business of vintage, clothing, sustainability."
Although they did come across a few other potential locations, they ultimately selected Barrie. Most other cities the group looked at already had a few vintage-type stores, says Pesino, while Barrie — as best they could determine — did not.
“What was the kicker is we never thought we would be in a mall," he says. "Malls are pretty pricey in the GTA, but that would’ve been the best place for us to be is in a mall. You don’t really have to generate foot traffic. It’s here already. When one of the partners saw there was an opportunity here, we got the ball rolling quickly.”
Although the store includes a large array of vintage, pre-owned, sustainable clothing, the store also has a variety of different vintage toys, posters and other items.
“If you look into our store, we have a lot of clothing, but we wanted to separate ourselves from a lot of the vintage stores in Toronto that are all clothing," says Pesino. "A couple of the vendors already were doing some things outside of clothing like vintage toys, comics, cards … just items that will bring you back and are very nostalgic to some people.
"A lot of the younger generation come for the clothing, but then when you see some of the older people come in, they will see an ALF toy from the '80s that they can relate to," he adds. "It’s a store that encompasses a lot of things. We are hoping when you walk into our store, it brings you to a certain time, a memory, a place. We try to make the store a whole experience … from the music to the movies and shows we have on the TV.”
Since opening the doors earlier this month, the feedback has been incredible, Pesino says.
“The most rewarding thing that has come for me personally is hearing the excitement of some customers that we are here and that this kind of store is here," he says. "They’ve told me they’d go all the way to Toronto just to get some of this kind of stuff, so to have it here, they say, is amazing. The amount of return customers we have is exponentially increasing. I have seen people five times already and we haven’t been open long.”
The hope, Pesino says, is that in time more people will spread the word about the store, and the importance of sustainability.
“It’s (already) happening now. It’s pretty amazing," he says. "The growth and feedback we are getting … it is different, it is kind of cool. It’s here to stay.
"This generation is going to save the planet. They know to wear reused clothing (because) it saves the landfill.”