Yesterday’s RAVE’s rapid growth in Greensburg has surprised co-owner Patty Wolfe.
The store, which specializes in antiques and vintage items, opened with 15 vendors in November 2021 in a renovated space in the former Schaller’s Bakery building on Highland Avenue. The number of vendors grew rapidly as more parts of the building opened in the ensuing months.
“We went from 15 dealers to 115 dealers in one year,” she said.
Now, Wolfe’s has one thing in common with other similar stores in the area: waiting lists for vendors to come in.
The popularity of vintage and vintage stores, which offer vendors a space to sell their unique items, seems to have been growing in recent years. An annual survey by the Ashford Institute of Antiques found that anything Art Deco has strong sales in 2021 among buyers aged 20 to 40.
Young people or couples are increasingly visiting Tarentum’s diamond antiques and gift shop, owner Dianna Roney said.
“We’re not sullen grandmas,” she said.
Clothing, textiles such as scarves and bags, and mid-century modern pieces are also popular among the same age group as well as those in their 40s and 60s. Furniture is a hot item as brick-and-mortar shopping resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Los Angeles Times reported in March 2021 that young adults are discovering estate sales and used, vintage or antique items, while a January 2022 Washington Post article noted that supply chain issues are driving an increase in used furniture sales .
Ellie Christopher of Hempfield, who has several booths at the L&L Fleatique off Route 30 in Adamsburg, has seen it all.
“When we reopened, it’s been non-stop since then,” she said, adding that customers lamented the lack of inventory and supply chain issues at large retailers. “Covid is bad, but I think it’s helped these types of businesses.”
Vendors rent booths in buildings and make money from sales. They’re so diverse, every square foot has just about anything you can think of – antique jewelry, coins, ornaments, furniture, souvenirs, dolls, clothing and collectibles, among many other items. It’s the type of stuff that’s popular on TV shows that thrive on finding something unique or obscure.
“Once most (suppliers) get in here … they do well and want to stay,” said Melva Ginther, manager of L&L, which has about 160 suppliers. “Word of mouth is the best advertising.”
The stores repurpose old buildings. L&L has been present for 23 years in the building that was once home to Davis Furniture. The new life means increased vibrancy in the area around the store, attracting customers who might be exploring more of the town or grabbing a bite to eat.
Miller’s Crossing Fleatique in Irwin and Beechview, which opened in 2015 and 2018, each have more than 100 vendors. The Irvine location was once a market and most recently a used furniture store.
“Irvine filled up pretty quickly when we opened,” said Jim Miller, who owns the businesses with his wife, Kristen Miller.
At the Millers location, sales have grown about 15% a year for the past few years.
Owners have reported a younger group of customers coming in recently, and vendors are getting younger, offering merchandise that appeals to different generations. Visiting such a store creates a sense of nostalgia, no matter which era holds a special place in the hearts of customers.
“Memorials are an antique store thing,” Ginser said.
Customers were looking for something that reminded them of their childhood—a record with a favorite tune, or something they saw at their grandparents’ house, and she and the Millers agreed.
“They’re buying our grandmother’s old utensils,” Ginser said. “Because it’s done better. It’s still around. There’s so much stuff out there now, you’re lucky if it lasts a year.”
The East Sixth Avenue building where Diamond Antiques was formerly a wallpaper and paint store. The multi-vendor style gives people who might have collectibles or have a crafty hobby a chance to connect with clients, Ronnie said.
“There are many, many women out there … who have always dreamed of being a shopkeeper,” but it can be hard to do on your own, she said.
A customer at Yesterday’s RAVE recently excitedly brought home a rooster biscuit jar – an item she had been looking for. Wolfe, who owns the business with her husband Rick Wolfe, said customers come from out of town and the parking lot is usually full.
The business has become a passion for the couple.
“It was fantastic,” Patty Wolfe said. “We’re enjoying what we’re doing now.”
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Tribune Review. You can reach Renatta by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .