New store Ohio Vintage— A family passion for the old
- Published: January 10, 2013
The Murray brothers are unusual in the world of vintage goods. They’re young — Josh is 29, John-Marcus 30 — but they’ve already been buying and selling old items for about 15 years, since they were in high school. And even after a decade and a half in the business, the brothers stand out when they set up a booth at a flea market.
“We’re still the youngest ones there,” said John-Marcus, who lives in Yellow Springs.
The Murrays come by their passion honestly. They grew up in South Charleston with an uncle and grandparents who bought and sold antiques, and began selling vintage photos and postcards in high school, then online. John-Marcus spent some time in the antique business in New York City, but both are now public school teachers, with Josh teaching third grade and John-Marcus high school. And in December they realized a long-standing dream by opening up their own shop, Vintage Ohio, above The Winds Cafe at 213 Xenia Avenue, in the space formerly occupied by Basho.
The shop, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, will offer a 20 percent off sale this weekend, Jan. 4–6.
Yellow Springs seemed a good fit for their shop, which Josh, who lives just north of the village, describes as specializing in “industrial, urban, eclectic” items. They keep an eye on trade publications to stay current with what’s hot among vintage goods, and do their best to find items that are “decorative, but functional at the same time,” according to Josh.
For instance, the store currently has a selection of old suitcases that people can use as decorative options for storing photos. And the old metal swimming lockers stacked up also have potential as a unique choice for storage. The Murrays are proud of the old drafting table they obtained from a factory that closed down, and they recently sold, for $1,000, a 1930s table from a Clark County post office, an item that can be re-purposed as a kitchen counter.
That price is on the high end of their goods, which range from $1 to more than $1,000, “but most are under $100,” Josh said.
Currently the store features costume jewelry, vintage t-shirts, old postcards and photos, old maps, lamps, clocks, LP records, brass candlesticks, dinnerware and furniture, along with unique finds such as a gumball machine from the 1960s and a buoy from the SS Armco. They figure they have over 1,000 items that could be classified as either antiques or vintage, from the 1950s, 60s or 70s. As well as selling, they are always looking to buy items.
The brothers plan to refresh their inventory continually, with objects they find in flea markets, antique stores, barns and through long-term contacts. Even if they didn’t have a store to maintain, they’d be stopping to check out potential finds, according to John-Marcus.
“Whenever we’re on vacation, we stop at antique stores,” he said. “We’re always buying.”
For Josh, the pleasure of selling vintage goods is honoring the quality and craftsmanship that are more apparent in older items than recent ones. And he enjoys the continual hunt for something different.
“For me, it’s a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find,” he said.
And both men appreciate imagining the stories behind the items they sell.
“There’s the mystery,” Josh said. “Where has this item been? Who used it before?”