Kiese and Tressie both wrote for, to, and about those of us who carry Blackness with us everywhere we go. The thin white woman beside me folds her legs all the way up and gathers her knees to her chest. Her elbow is in my way and it nearly pokes me. “I’m so tiny,” […]
The Real Deal: All Things Vintage
Claudia and Lucy are the owners of All Things Vintage,
a shop in the Glenview\Diamond District. They are also an interior designers and a recently retired middle school math and science teacher, a German émigré and a New York transplant, a hippie and a firecracker, a dynamic, live improv duo with the catch phrases of a sitcom and the vintage fashion knowledge of historians.
Stephen Texeira, a local photographer,
told me about their shop claiming it to be the best vintage shop in Oakland. He is a loyal customer, finding pieces for his shoots in their store and raving about the two of them as lovely women. He also featured Gloria in his Oakland Neighborhoods Project, as a representative of the Glenview District.
When I step into All Things Vintage, Lucy and Claudia are dressed in vintage with a wide-rimmed pink hat and a Jackie Kennedy deal with the lace, respectively. Lucy is behind the desk, also vintage, drinking coffee from a dainty teacup that is a replica of the one she offers me.
“Estate sales were how we furnished our homes…from the 70’s on. We went to the Alameda antique market pretty much every month” said Claudia. Lucy piped in, “ not in the winter and not if it looked like it was going to rain or if we didn’t feel like getting up.”
These two women are the women of novels. They are friends. They carry their history with them. They wear their stories on their bodies. They play. They know how to enjoy life, each other and the people around them. Claudia tells me she used to stage houses for a living. The store shows it. Down to the detail, the place is vintage. Cloth spills out of a light pink cabinet upstairs, the bathroom has a shelf full of vintage perfumes, set up like the powder room of a high society lady.
The ladies have an easy banter between them. People wanted to know if they would be back for the next antique market. Claudia says they would tell them, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” This led to the start of an email list, (“an inspired e-mail list,” adds Lucy) which grew to over five hundred and came in handy when the two of them decided to get a physical space. All Things Vintage took up residence at 3506 Woodruff St in July 2007 and opened their doors to customers for one weekend a month: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. About three years ago, the ladies decided to open for two weekends a month, Saturday and Sunday. Claudia tells me the story of how the two of them met: “My first and her only husband introduced us…we met and the husbands slowly became history and Lucy and I have remained friends.”
Lucy goes on to say that she has a retail background, having worked in Bullocks in LA and Macy’s in the Bay Area. Her mother was the person to introduce her to the world of fashion, as she was a volunteer at local thrift shop through her work with the Brooklyn Planned Parenthood. Her mother would have gotten a kick out of their store, she said. She’d have walked around the store and touched things, ask if they were making money, pick out a piece here or there and say, “oh good goods.”
Similarly, Claudia’s mother got her into fashion. Her mother was always a put together woman. There were no jeans in Claudia’s house and her mother didn’t wear make-up. Though she was a woman of sayings as well and one of her favorites was, “go put on some makeup. You look like buttermilk and spit.”
The store is not just a place to go buy vintage clothing, but a space full of stories and expertise. All Things Vintage is a beautiful story about two women’s parallel paths, their similar connectivity to their mothers through fashion, a friendship forged over forty years ago and a shared dedication to expression and community.
Lucy and Claudia can pick up any item in their store and tell you what decade it comes from, discuss the terminology and trends during that time, the fabrics used, the brand names that were popular, and what stores carried these garments.
Not only is shopping at All Things Vintage like walking into another era, but the quality standards for the pieces they sell are very high. All pieces are fixed, washed and ironed before being put out on display.
The ladies at All Things Vintage are part of a growing Fashion enclave on the boarder of the Glenview and Diamond districts of Oakland. Robin Denston of Recapture Designs (recapturedesigns.com), vintage, custom and redesign seamstress of Deborah Deborah, Deborah Kimble and designer Tina Martin of STML Design and Sagebox Studio are their neighbors.
Visit them in the store and lookout for their upcoming Etsy store. If you want to sell pieces and cannot come during open hours, feel free to contact either Claudia or Lucy to set up an appointment.