The Retrophile Files: Establishing the New Cool at Brooklyn’s Sunday Love
A window-chalkboard is one of the hot sellers at Sunday Love in Brooklyn, N.Y. The quirky, vintage finds and repurposed furniture store has been helping to establish the new cool.
While a good number of my fellow New Yorkers are still entranced by the “Ikea effect,” I am happy to report that a growing number of compadres have snapped out of their stupor and are now seeking vintage furnishings. Enter Sunday Love, a small retail establishment based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that can fulfill a retrophile’s home décor needs.
What’s to love here? Quirky vintage finds and repurposed furniture that’s been created in a workshop cleverly placed on the sales floor. We recently chatted with Greer Keeble, one of the owners of Sunday Love, to learn about her retail mission.
DeDe Sullivan: How long have you been in business and what motivated you to open your doors?
Greer Keeble: We have been open for two years. It started with my husband, Scott Martin, myself, and his father Ned Martin, who is an artist. We all wanted to be in business for ourselves. Currently, Ned is solely concentrating on his art so now it’s just Scott and me running the show.
DeDe: What’s the story behind the store’s romantic name?
Greer: Scott and I were in a long distance relationship for a long time and Sundays were the day that we dreaded because we had to leave each other for the week. When Scott moved back to NYC we decided to open this business and Sunday Love was a name that I thought fit perfectly. It represents us being together. It sounds cliché, but Sundays are about love for us now.
DeDe: And don’t forget work too since, you are open on Sundays. OK, when did you get the “junk” bug?
This chair was made in the Sunday Love workshop and goes nicely with other vintage items co-owners Greer Keeble and Scott Martin have managed to scare up. Because they try to keep prices reasonable, items don’t stay in stock long.
Greer: The great thing is that both of us have been shopping vintage since we were teenagers. Well before we knew each other, we both were frequenting thrift stores. Mostly, it was clothing, but as we grew older furniture and other small home décor caught our interest.
DeDe: Was anyone in your family in a similar business?
Greer: Sort of. My mom used to work with an interior decorator in Cleveland and she refinished furniture for her to decorate homes. I learned a lot of different techniques from her.
DeDe: So that is how you learned to upholster furniture—I can see you put those skills to great use by looking at some of the items you repurposed for the shop. Do you have an overall retail and pricing philosophy?
Greer: Sure. We started Sunday Love with a goal to combat the whole New York expensive vintage idea. We wanted to say “hey, you can have an amazing apartment, even if you’re a normal person.” Our philosophy and goal has always been to have the coolest product at the best prices. If we get something cheap, we sell it cheap.
DeDe: Explain the eclectic mix of merchandise in your shop; everything is so kitschy and fun. Is there a particular look or style you adhere to when you are picking inventory or is this all a happy accident?
Greer: No, our product is no accident. We are very picky and purposeful with everything that goes on our floor. We both have very similar styles and ideas of what is “in.” We like color and patterns. Everything in our inventory needs to be special in some way. We will spend a good chunk of change on a Hoof Canteen because we know that customers will talk about it while in the store with friends or after they leave. People know that they can find strange things in our store and unique gifts. We also make a lot of our product too, so we are selling our idea of cool. We just hope that people out there agree with us.
DeDe: I love your idea of cool. Like the great table you created (see photo below) that pairs finished blond wood with a rusty, chippy green base. The contrast is great. What is the “oddest” item you sold?
A table created in the Sunday Love workshop repurposed an old cast-iron stand with a top.
Greer: The oddest thing we have sold is . . . whew there’s so much. Maybe a complete top set of human teeth mounted on a hard, cardboard backing. A dentist’s daughter bought them. Every time we shop for the store we try to find what we call the “Wow Item.” Something that people see and say “wow!” We also have an old breast pump here right now dates back to the ’40s/’50s . . . Its’ hilarious.
DeDe: I would think being a small, independent retailer in New York City is tough; you have to really have a fresh perspective, which Sunday Love does have. What is the magic bullet item that sells as soon as it hits the sales floor?
Greer: Yeah, there are things that we know will sell right away. We used to make anatomy tables. As soon as we put them on the floor they were gone in a week, tops. Basically, it was a refinished side table with an early century anatomical drawing. Urban Outfitters now sells the exact same drawing so we stopped making them. We are convinced one of their spies came in and took a picture of one of our tables. Who knows, but we had to stop and keep reinventing the wheel. Our chalkboard windows are a top seller, too . . . shhhhh.
DeDe: How do you keep the shop stocked? What combination of things do you do to keep the merchandise fresh? Is it hard keeping things affordable?
Greer: We shop constantly and we are always making furniture and small décor. It’s hard to keep things affordable, but we try our best and usually get compliments on how reasonably priced our stuff is. You have to constantly stay ahead of the trends. Things we used to be able to buy are just too expensive to resell in our store. Old Crates were cheap two years ago. We could sell them for a decent price. Those days are gone.
DeDe: Where are you from? Why Brooklyn?
Greer: I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and my husband is from Baltimore, Maryland. I moved here working in fashion and Scott for music. There’s no way we could’ve made this happen anywhere else and people would’ve liked it.
DeDe: That is what I appreciate about Brooklyn. Brooklynites make an effort to support local businesses if it offers a great service or product. Where do you source the materials for your repurposed creations? Do you dumpster dive? Work with other businesses that salvage pieces?
The current “wow” item at the shop is the Hoof Canteen. Almost every customer that comes into the store has stopped and talked about it.
Greer: We don’t dumpster dive. Although we are not about to pass up any old wood someone’s tossing from an old Brooklyn brownstone there renovating. We have a few secret people we get some of our odds and ends from. We buy a lot of furniture in bad shape and fix it up. We also buy anything that catches our eye and inspires a design. If we see something that would make a cool top for table, we snatch it up. You really have to look for the right pieces. I may find something that Scott thinks is a piece of crap. But after I turn it into an amazing coat rack, he changes his tune.
DeDe: Tell me about your best find ever—the how and why.
Greer: I would have to say it was the first Hoof Canteen. I just knew right away that this was special and people would talk about it. I was in Seattle shopping and I stumbled upon it. Almost every customer that came into our store stopped and talked about it. The crazy thing is . . . a woman ended up buying it for her 5-year-old son. Not sure which is odder . . .
DeDe: She must have been preparing him for the zombie apocalypse! How totally bizarre! Do you sense any upcoming retail trends brewing; are customers starting to inquire about a certain style or item?
Greer: If I told you I would have to kill you.
DeDe: OK, if you had to pick another career what would it be?
Greer: A professional lottery winner.
DeDe: Amen sister! Me as well! Before we wrap this interview, drop a few words of wisdom on us!
Greer: A dream starts with a simple idea and ends with motivated action. Grow balls.
To see more photos from Sunday Love, visit DeDe’s website Vintage and Flea.
Sunday Love is located at 624 Grand St. in Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211. Store hours are: Tue. -Thurs. 11 a.m. -8 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Closed Mondays. Contact them at 347.457.5453, via e-mail at email@example.com or visit its website at http://sundaylove.biz/.
DeDe Sullivan is a retrophile with a particular fondness for junktiques; discarded vintage treasures whose aesthetic worth far exceeds its monetary value. Her blog, VintageandFlea.com, documents her junking and antiquing adventures. This includes sharing her favorite places to score unique items, the history behind unusually finds, along with display and upcycling ideas. Have a question or story to tell? Shoot her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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