New Westminster’s vintage scene just got a new addition, and it’s nothing like the Salvation Army or Value Village.
Gemini Rising Vintage carries a curated collection of second-hand clothing from the 1920s right through to the ’90s. Owned by Marriki Schlifer, the 27-year-old has been selling vintage clothing online through Etsy for seven years, and making the jump to a brick-and-mortar location was something she’d been eyeing for some time.
“It became kind of a hobby that turned into, ‘Oh, I really want to do this,’ and I just fell in love with the process and being my own boss,” Schlifer told the Record.
When looking for a location, New Westminster presented as the logical choice, she said. Schlifer lived in the Royal City for several years, and compared to similar storefronts in Vancouver, the rent was reasonable. Plus the city itself fit with her vision for Gemini Rising.
“It still has all the old buildings, and I think that blends itself very well to the vintage vibe. There’s other antique stores and people are coming to town already looking for that esthetic,” Schlifer said.
New Westminster is no stranger to thrift shops. In addition to the big two – Salvation Army and Value Village – there are several stores around the city selling second-hand clothes, but Schlifer doesn’t see that as a problem.
“The same thing could be said about furniture and yet there’s vintage furniture stores doing really well in New Westminster,” she said.
“If you have something different and special and good, people do recognize that quality.”
Located at 43 Sixth St., Gemini Rising is one of two spaces that used to make up Renaissance Book Store (the other half is home to Mila + Paige, another clothing store). Using salvaged wood and old book shelves she found in the basement, Schlifer made herself a cash desk and clothing racks. She carries mostly women’s clothing, including wedding and prom dresses, plus sizes, accessories and shoes, and a small selection of men’s clothes.
“I do pick based on quality and the style of things. I’ve been selling online for seven years before this so I’ve kind of honed down online what people are looking for. I’m more focused on what’s special, and not your everyday minimal pieces. I like colour. I like things that are loud,” she said.
Schlifer got into the business when she was in school earning her bachelor’s degree in fashion design. She and her classmates would go thrifting during their lunch break, and one day Schlifer started selling some of her finds online.
Today, most of the clothing she sells come from private sales.
Gemini Rising opened two weeks ago and so far, business has been good, Schlifer said.
The biggest challenge so far, she said, is getting used to the retail work and the inconsistent pace of it all.
She says her online business is still her main source of income, but she hopes to one day have a solid enough customer base at Gemini Rising to hire an employee so she can focus on balancing both shops.
“This is long-term for me,” she said. “I’ve already been doing this for seven years, so this is something I’m very passionate about.”
For more information, go to www.geminirisingvintage.com.