Thrift store Thriftgeek sells unique, antique

Elise Foley

Thriftgeek from Elise Foley on Vimeo.

Video by Elise Foley

Thriftgeek opened April 24 as a result of two months of hard work, 15 years of friendship and a lifetime of collecting “tchotchke things.”

The new store, 522 Davis St., is cluttered with old things and new art. Owners Susan Ganem, 43, and B.J. Negrete, 44, decided February they would leave careers in wine, dog boarding and cement – to name a few – and open a store. Both longtime collectors – Ganem of items like salt-shakers and Negrete of furniture and art – each purged her own belongings to stock the store.

The result is a colorful collection of vintage wares and Negrete’s original artwork. There are books, flasks and camping lamps. Vintage signs hang on the walls, surrounded by paintings and old license plates. There are two racks of clothing, stacks of ruffled tuxedo shirts in every color and piles of white sailor hats.

“It’s all about funkiness, vintage, unique and great stuff,” Negrete said. “I’m not so much into the new stuff. But if you want old school charm… we’ve got it.”

Everything is priced based off of comparable items on eBay, with most items coming in at slightly lower prices than they go for online. The most expensive item, a set of leaded glass windows, is priced at $600, while the cheapest items are sold for $0.25, Ganem said. Eventually, there will be a “free box” with items to give away, she said.

“We want to have something for everyone here,” Ganem said. “If you’re looking for a new, unique gift or something you don’t see every day, something vintage, something so old-school that you wouldn’t see it anywhere else, that’s what we’re here to do.”

They originally hoped business would spread through word of mouth, but Ganem said finding the location on Davis Street shifted their direction.

“People will see us and then they’ll come in just because they see us instead of knowing about us and finding us,” she said. “So instead of being a destination, you’re going to stumble upon us.”

Evanston resident Dianne Fox did. She said she first noticed the store a few days ago when she was riding by. The sign caught her eye, and she came back Thursday and purchased a table, bag and watering can.

“I love shopping in resale, retro, antique-y stores, but I don’t like to spend a lot of money,” Fox said. “Everything here is reasonably priced. I will be coming back often.”

The business made 50 or 60 sales in its first five days, with most of the items sold between $5 and $20, Ganem said. For now she said she’s only hoping to break even with the new business.

“As long as we can make our nut every month, we’re going to be OK,” she said. “If we can not go further into the hole in these first couple of months, that’s a victory.”

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