Ssome of the best in the area vintage purveyors have pooled their collective talents and tastes as treasure hunters for decades at Teleport Vintage + Co.
The store, located just north of downtown Spokane in a historic building (many may remember it as the original home of Stella’s Cafe), opened in early March and has already seen a surge of community support, says owner Paul Forster.
“I don’t know if it’s the hype for a new store, or if the community is really hungry for a store like this,” Forster says, “but the reception was completely and utterly humbling, and it feels good that people are liking and enjoying it. To me, it’s just a store I’d like to go shopping at.
Forster has been a figure in the local vintage scene for many years and has long known that if he ever opened his own shop, he wanted to ditch the typical vendor-mall-style model of renting designated floor space at d other sellers. At Teleport, each partner instead agrees to a set split of their sales (vendor keeps 70%, Teleport gets 30%), and each vendor’s inventory is mixed throughout the space, rather than in individual booths, to provide a more cohesive shopping experience.
“All of these people have their own strengths, and they all bring something a little different to the store,” Forster says. “Merchandise inside Teleport is highly curated by the team. All of these people have a great eye and have a community outside of Teleport that helps them find their stuff.”
Teleport clothing vendors include Fay Ripley of Red Leaf Vintage, Tony Brown of Vagabond Soundtrack, and Mike Kay of Time Machine Workshop. A good portion of the inventory also comes from Forster’s vintage stock.
In addition to clothing, several sellers specialize in homewares like textiles, industrial lighting, and mid-century furniture, while others upcycle and customize vintage pieces. Teleport is also a storefront for locally made natural skincare line Kani Botanicals and Spokane-based leather goods brand Westward Leather.
Forster says one of the main benefits of the store’s partnership model is that he can simply call sellers when, for example, inventory of denim shorts cut in certain sizes is low, or if t-shirts vintage graphics fly off the shelves.
“[Vendors] don’t get that in other places they sell,” he explains. “Property is not about people’s spaces; they don’t know how to come in and say, ‘You’re out of this, you need more of this.'”
Ffortunately for both Vendors and customers of Teleport, vintage fashion is experiencing a major resurgence of interest.
“I really know that vintage is the most popular it’s ever been at this point. Over the last five to seven years, vintage has exploded; and a big part of that, I think, is people are more aware that fast fashion is bad,” says Forster.In the apparel industry, fast fashion describes inexpensive, mass-produced, trend-driven pieces often made by low-paid laborers in bad work conditions.
Yet with high demand for cool old-world clothing, there is also a shortage of goods – vintage sourcing in the Interior Northwest has become increasingly competitive – and higher prices for popular decades or rare and unique pieces.
Sourcing, says Forster, “is a never-ending process because it’s not like normal retail where you buy new products and you can still buy them to fill your shelves.” In vintage, “you never know when you’re going to have the next thing”.
Forster has worn and collected vintage fashion since he was a child, having adopted the lifestyle and appreciation of older, high-quality products from his parents and grandparents.
“I grew up diving into trash cans as a kid, and my mom and grandma dragged me into estate sales and thrift stores,” he says. “My grandfather also knew the value of a dollar, and I learned that very quickly, and how to reuse and recycle without wasting.”
While Teleport stocks rare items like 1950s leather motorcycle jackets and hard-to-find WWII workwear, there are also t-shirts and jeans $15 below new prices. Retail. With its diverse mix of vendors, shoppers can find all manner of clothing from most decades of the 20th century.
Compounding vintage lovers’ growing desire to boycott the unsustainable practices and ethics of fast fashion, Forster says the influence of celebrities on younger generations has also helped spur vintage fashion’s latest resurgence.
“Clothes – everyone needs clothes, and a lot of people now understand that they can go out and find those pieces and almost turn your body into a canvas,” he says.
“The clothes you put on your body are a statement, and there’s a lot more nuance to vintage.” ♦
Teleport Vintage + Co • 917 W. Broadway Ave. • Open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. (Monday/Tuesday by appointment) • Instagram.com/teleportvintageandco