On Taylor Swift’s new album, she says “No amount of vintage dresses give you dignity.” Dana Hanson, owner of Concetta’s Closet, may be the exception to that. Concetta’s Closet, New Hampshire’s sole vintage-only store (meaning no consignment) opened in Newmarket, NH in early October. The shop is beautiful, tucked away on a picturesque New England main street. When you walk in, the distinct smell of vintage clothing hits you and it’s oddly comforting. Beautiful artwork hangs on the wall (all local artists that Dana loves to showcase), racks of clothing are all around just begging to be sifted through. Rows of shoes and purses are displayed and vintage decor brings the store together.
It seems like Dana has been doing this forever. She discovered Etsy (a website where you can buy and sell handmade or vintage items) in 2008 when she was planning her wedding. She ordered a hairpiece from Twigs & Honey, and she was hooked. In March 2010, she opened up Concetta’s Closet on Etsy and started selling her collection of vintage goods, most of which happened to be housewares. Dana’s first sale was a vintage lamp, but she soon discovered that housewares don’t have as much of a niche on Etsy as clothing do. So she started seeking out estate sales. “Most of the people [who have estate sales] are simply looking to get rid of stuff,” says Dana. “They aren’t looking to make a huge profit. I love the thrill of the chase. No feeling compares to finding beautiful dresses from the 1940s in a pile of WalMart crap.”
Dana invited me to come along with her for the day on a vintage hunt. It was amazing. “There are certain must-haves for a day of vintage hunting,” explains Dana. Coffee was number one. Once we had that squared away, Dana told me that having a smart phone is absolutely necessary, too. “Having internet access on the road is so important. It allows me to quickly answer questions that customers have. I can also look up labels I find on dresses to see what era they came from.” As does anyone who has an internet based business nowadays, Dana understands the importance of social-networking. “Being able to keep up on Twitter (she has over 1,000 followers!) and Facebook is detrimental to business.” Change for tolls is a must, as we probably went through about four of them. Comfortable shoes, too. Most of the day was spent on our feet rummaging through hundreds of dresses.
Since the opening of the store, people have started to seek Dana out to get rid of their vintage. We went to a private sale in Portsmouth, NH, in which a woman was selling some of her personal clothing. She had roughly twenty or so dresses hanging up along her mantle. Dana’s face lit up. “I get giddy around vintage,” she said. “Sometimes I try stuff on. I can’t help it. I fall in love with pieces and sometimes I talk to the clothes.” Much to my surprise, Dana went right for the summer dresses. I asked her why she was buying summer dresses in November, and she told me that her biggest customer base comes from Australia. “They’re in summer right now. I never have a problem buying clothes out of season because other countries are going to snatch them up.” Big in the United States right now? “Mad Men-esque dresses.”
The dresses that Dana did buy were brought back to the store and put on the dress forms. They were given an intense check, and low and behold, there was a little wear and tear. Dana brought them to her personal seamstress, who does great work in repairing her precious vintage. Some dresses have stains and things of that nature, and Dana does her best to get those out by soaking and hand-washing. Customers are always made aware of anything that is “wrong” with any clothing.
Dana’s dresses range from $20-$250. A lot of factors go into pricing. The era of the dress (the older it is, the more expensive), what kind of condition it’s in (cost of repairs), how far Dana had to go to find it, wearability, and size. Most sizes are smaller, because well…people were smaller back then. Sizes 8 and up tend to be more expensive because they’re harder to find.
Dana’s favorite era to wear-a (couldn’t help myself) is anything from the 60s. “In that time, the youth was allowed to express themselves, and women didn’t have as many restrictions or expectations. You can see it in the music, clothes, and art.” At 35, her least favorite is the 80s, not surprisingly. “My mother wore those clothes,” said Dana. “I wore those clothes! Been there, done that.” Dana is a huge advocate of mixing modern clothing with vintage. “The best rule of thumb is to pick a few classic pieces of your own modern wardrobe (a classic heel, a great pair of slacks or a pencil skirt) and mix it with a focus piece, perhaps a 60s Pendleton blazer or a 50s beaded cardigan. The possibilities are endless! Mixing and matching is the key.”
Being in the vintage business isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, though. Dana, who was raised in New Jersey and later moved to Brooklyn, whips out the New York attitude if need be. “I know what I want, and I go for it. I’m determined. I’m what you would call a no-nonsense bitch.” If something feels shady, be that with models, buyers, business owners or photographers, she’s out - and don’t count on hearing from her again. “I have a ‘don’t-waste-my-time’ mentality that allows my business to succeed,” said Dana. “I don’t take vintage too seriously - vintage is supposed to be fun - but I take my business very seriously.”
You gotta go see Concetta’s Closet. Chances are you won’t walk out empty handed. At the very least, visit the website and take a look around. Got a gal on your holiday shopping list who loves vintage? Gift certificates are available in-store and online all year round. Concetta’s Closet is open Wednesday - Friday 11:00-7:00, Saturdays 10:00-5:00, and Sundays 10:00-4:00 and is located at 106 Main Street, Newmarket, NH.
- mollymckenna posted this