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The Vintage Bazaar at DANK Haus Delivers Retro Kitsch and Mid-Century Mod

By Patty Wetli | February 16, 2013 9:56am

LINCOLN SQUARE — If Etsy took physical, as opposed to virtual form, it might look something like The Vintage Bazaar.

On Saturday, TVB, a pop-up flea market brings its roving band of vendors to DANK Haus, combining "Mad Men"-cool with garage sale grit.

"There's some retro kitsch and a lot of mid-century modern," said Libby Alexander, founder of TVB. "Not everybody likes the same thing. I try to put together a group of vendors that appeals to the widest audience."

Alexander and Katherine Raz launched TVB in 2010 — Raz has since moved on to other ventures — migrating from venue to venue, including stops at Logan Square's Congress Theater, Uptown's Aragon Ballroom and the Renegade Craft Fair.

At DANK, thrifters will find 25 vendors whose merchandise ranges from elegant home furnishings to nostalgia-tugging housewares guaranteed to provoke at least one "Oh my god, my grandma totally had that" response per minute.

TVB regulars will recognize "fan favorites" like Manly Vintage, which specializes in exquisite 20th Century furniture, alongside newcomers that include Richard's Fabulous Finds, which showcases vintage men's clothing and accessories.

The spectrum of vendors represents the vast diversity of vintage itself — technically defined as merchandise more than 20 years old.

"It's huge and it's very personal," Alexander, 34, said of the vintage movement.

Some thrifters are collectors, looking to add to their storehouse of vintage cameras, for example. Others are what Alexander called "purists," people who stick to items from a particular era.

Alexander, who hails from Springfield, Ill., and now lives in Andersonville, grew up haunting garage sales and antique shops with her mom and grandmother, a practice that carried over into adulthood.

"Going to a thrift store was a way to live within my means and still have style," she said.

She's currently rearranging her aesthetic around a black marble pedestal table that was a gift from her grandmother.

"It's pretty intense. It's changing my whole life."

Chad Spaulding, owner of First Born Vintage, reassures vintage rookies that the style doesn't have to dominate one's decor.

"You can have a normal house and incorporate vintage," he said. "You can have an Ikea rug, things from CB2 and West Elm and vintage and mix it all together."

Like most vendors, Spaulding is a thrifter himself and understands the concerns those new to the scene might have about items being over-priced or reproductions being passed off as originals.

"The more you come to these things, the more you train your eye," he said, advising shoppers to closely examine all the items in a given booth to determine whether a particular piece seems out of order.

Though some vendors are willing to haggle, Spaulding said all have done their research in terms of what their merchandise is selling for elsewhere and priced accordingly.

"I'll haggle with you, but at some point, I found it, I bought, I moved it," he said.

Nicole Hughes, proprietress of Bombshell Shocked, which features women's clothing, deals with a different kind of sticker shock when it comes to customers.

"The proportions are different and the size numbers are different," she said. "A size 6 now would be a 10 or 12."

A self-described "petite woman with an hourglass figure," Hughes tells shoppers that what they lose in self-esteem, they gain in fit, with vintage clothing more accommodating of curves.

"It's a chance to be creative," she said of the appeal of vintage garments versus, say, The Gap. "You don't see yourself coming and going."

The Vintage Bazaar runs Saturday, Feb. 16, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave. Admission is free.