Germantown: Wistaria Vintage Perpetuates the Past

Shop owner, Jose Sanchez, shows one of his recent vintage discoveries.]

The wisteria vine was named in honor of famous Germantown native, Dr. Caspar Wistar.

Buying used clothes, often called “thrifting,” has become fashionable, but many people often confuse the term thrift with vintage.

Wistaria Vintage, located at 6375 Germantown Ave., is a vintage shop where the mission is to correct this common misconception.

“There’s a difference between vintage and thrift,” said Wistaria Vintage owner Jose Sanchez. “I’m not just filling the racks. Everything I’ve picked out myself and there’s a purpose to.”

Though vintage is a relative term and depends on an individual’s age, Sanchez, 30, said he believes that real vintage is usually anything from the 1960s and older.

“It’s scary to think, but some kids think the ’90s is vintage now,” he said.

Though he does carry a few modern pieces from the ’80s and ’90s, Sanchez said that clothing from the ’60s and ’70s seem to be the most popular decades. More recent quality vintage is also easier for Sanchez to discover than older pieces.

“I haven’t quite gotten into the real ’30s and ’40s vintage yet because that stuff is much harder to find,” he said.

Shop owner, Jose Sanchez, shows one of his recent vintage discoveries.

Sanchez does consign clothing, so residents from the neighborhood are welcome to sell used items to the shop. Though he said he encourages consignment, less than a quarter of the store’s content is consigned. The rest Sanchez has discovered himself. He said he scours flea markets and thrift shops regularly, often traveling around Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

“I go just about anywhere that I can find things,” Sanchez said. “I’m always on the lookout.”

But it’s not just the clothing and accessories that are reminiscent of another time; Wistaria Vintage also offers a small assortment of trinkets and furniture. There is even a pair of antique movie theater seats originally from an old theater in Philadelphia. The store evokes more of a boutique atmosphere and the physical appearance complements the store’s contents.

“It’s a very small space,” Sanchez said. “So I had to be very creative.”

The clothes are stored in open closets that are made from old doors Sanchez salvaged from the neighborhood, and he also refurbished the original wood floors. The paintings currently featured on the walls are the 1960s’ work of artist Gary Adamson.

Most of the clothes at Wistaria Vintage were made in the United States.

“I really tried not to have anything modern,” Sanchez said.

Though Wistaria Vintage is only in its fifth month, prospective plans are already in the works. Sanchez would eventually like to promote local artists’ work in the store and also start to feature more high-end and designer vintage. There’s even the eventual possibility of a second store location in Center City.

“But that’s way in the future,” Sanchez said.