A new app called “LA Vintage Map” is bent on bringing shoppers to the local vintage scene in Los Angeles, and to vintage shops this means new business.
The map launched last week with a roster of 220 businesses and is available on the iOS store as well as its dedicated website LaVintageMap.com. Shoppers can scour listings by area, category or name, viewing store hours and contact information in the directory.
Although the pandemic was a death knell for several vintage stores in L.A., new ones have emerged and famed flea markets like The Rose Bowl Flea, Los Feliz Flea and Silverlake Flea have grown substantially (even adapting virtually amid the pandemic).
Given the shifting grounds and new resale reality, LA Vintage Map founder Liisa Jokinen, who is also behind NYC Vintage Map and vintage search engine Gem, has a relatively simple mission.
“The map helps more people to find the vintage and thrift stores plus flea markets in Los Angeles. It helps people to discover new stores they haven’t visited yet and also encourages them to explore new neighborhoods,” Jokinen told WWD. “After having a look at our maps, many people comment: ‘I had no clue there are so many stores in L.A. and New York City.’” Her hope is that the map will bring a surplus of visitors, shoppers and followers to the featured stores.
Hot on the vintage scene are businesses like Archive Atelier, Chelsea Von Mach, Ciao Cherub, Wilder, Western Gifts, ReDress and The Gorky L.A.
Each has its niche, Jokinen said, with Western Gifts, for one, dealing rare workwear pieces sourced all over Europe and the U.S., while ReDress is the “first rent-the-rack store for individual sellers” in her words.
Wilder specializes in archival denim, Archive Atelier is like a mini antique atelier, Chelsea Von Mach is the editorialized brainchild of a former stylist, The Gorky L.A. is for the artsy minimalist and Ciao Cherub appeals to Instagram-inspired fashion devotees (but make it vintage).
Many of the spots were handpicked for launch by tastemakers like Ari Seth Cohen, founder of Advanced Style (a blog devoted to the style of the senior fashion set) and L.A.-based stylist Sissy Chacon. Both wrote blurbs in devotion to their favorites shops.
Jokinen said reactions to the map are already positive, with owners especially proud of the placement at no cost to them. While Gem’s business model is based on affiliate marketing programs, LA Vintage Map has no revenue stream and is instead a service to business owners. Today, Gem clocks about 460,000 monthly users for its search features.
“Interest in vintage and secondhand market is growing so a map like this is definitely needed,” Jokinen said. “I don’t know of any other similar apps in the world so both LA and NYC Vintage Maps are unique in that sense. We love promoting brick-and-mortar stores, small businesses and flea markets because they make the cities interesting and lively.”
Vintage shops are, of course, just a small piece of the retail landscape. As 2022 kicks off, many fear recovery for the industry overall is a long way out.
“Brick-and-mortar retail will continue to recover in 2022,” Ben Johnston, chief operating officer at Kapitus, a small business loan financier, told WWD. Businesses with overseas sourcing will see continued friction points, he said. “At Kapitus, we expect 2022 will bring a welcome sense of normalization as the virus dissipates, inflation weakens and some supply constraints are resolved. However, many uncertainties remain for America’s small businesses in the retail sector, and we have no doubt that the coming year will prove as eventful and potentially more opportunistic than those of recent past.”
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