When I was eight-years-old my mother bought out the entire contents of a jewelry factory. This included vintage glass beads, crystals from Czechoslovakia, 1930s enamels from Japan, findings and buttons, not to mention heaps of costume jewelry from the 50s and 60s. I grew up with beads under my bed, in my garage and in pretty much every crevice of our house. Now, 32 years later, the remains of that purchase sit in my family’s store in Brooklyn, Union Max, together with vintage clothing, housewares, toys and an ever changing selection of treasures from tag sales and thrift stores.
There are wonderful benefits to owning a vintage store. For one thing, there is no guilt involved with shopping. If a purchase doesn’t work out it just goes in the store. There is a constant influx of new merchandise flowing through my closet and I never have to buy any clothes for my children. We just go to the store and sift through the piles of children’s clothes. My home is decorated with antique treasures but when I get bored of an item or my style changes, off to the store. Going to a party means finding a dress from the $5 rack and then picking out costume jewelry, a handbag and shoes to match. The store has become a haven for me as well as jewelry designers, stylists and antique lovers. People are shocked by the amount of vintage beads and jewelry we have in the store and delight in the unique finds my family has amassed over the years. For those like me, who enjoy the thrill of the hunt, there’s really nothing like a vintage store.
— Ilana Greenberg, a native of Brooklyn, is the Creative Director of GD:USA Magazine. Union Max is located at 110 Union Street in Brooklyn. Store hours: Thursday-Sunday, 1-7, or call for an appointment.