Downtown welcomes latest vintage retailer

Two strangers became business partners when they launched Vintage Love in downtown Syracuse this summer.

From pop-up shops in flea markets to a trendy storefront, Vintage Love is the newest vintage retailer in Downtown Syracuse.

Vintage Love co-owner, Shauna Diliberto, created and ran Maeflowers Vintage, a pop-up shop of curated clothing, for 18 months. She said she was nervous to set foot into the business world so she gave the idea a trial run.

Photo: Kayla Boyd

“It went from loving to hating really fast for me and I was sick of schlepping my racks around and making fitting rooms in the middle of flea markets,” Diliberto said. “I knew my end goal was to open my own store, I just didn’t have the resources to do that.”

Diliberto met her business partner, Susan Hodell, at City Market in Armory Square in July 2015. Hodell’s pop-up shop, Driftwood and Glitter, consisted of vintage home goods, furniture and décor. Hodell said she was also ready for a more permanent location, but she knew she couldn’t do it on her own.

“It’s really exhausting carrying everything around like couches and chairs and dressers,” Hodell said. “It’s hard to picture it in your own home when it’s sitting on the street.”

The two strangers decided to combine their skills of spotting the latest vintage trends and create a long-term pop-up shop last November. They successfully ran it for about two months and shortly after they took an even bigger step and decided to open up a real store.

“I reached out to Sue who I didn’t know at all and took a huge leap of faith,” Diliberto said. “We got the retail fever and we knew it could be so much better if we were able to do a buildout and do it the right way.”

After their landlord, Troy Evans, gave them a deal on rent and committed to supporting their vision, Diliberto and Hodell said they couldn’t say no, so they opened a permanent shop at 201 E. Jefferson St. on May 12, 2016.

“Our landlord really believed in us and he was very likeminded in the sense of thinking that small local businesses can make Syracuse a fantastic place again and get more people downtown,” Diliberto said.

The windows were a huge selling point for them and before they redid the space it looked like a basement, she said. They tore up carpeting and laid down their own flooring. They also had their landlord and his crew take the ceiling out.

“I wanted a clean, modern aesthetic against a very vintage style so together they would create a contrast,” Diliberto said.

Since they opened only a few months ago, the vintage fashion duo has attracted many different shoppers to their 1970s aesthetic store. Maliha Mohiuddin, a local style blogger at The Hare and Style Blog, recently purchased a vintage peacock chair. She said she loves the vibe of the store and appreciates Hodell’s eye for vintage home goods.

“Half the time that I miss coming in a piece that I want is already gone. People love her stuff; she really knows what she’s doing,” Mohiuddin said. “I have to resist coming in all the time.”

Shavonne Sagcan, a photographer and stay-at-home mom, said Vintage Love has great variety and social media posts help her know what’s in store if she can’t make it downtown.

“It’s just beautiful to be inside, it feels like a step back in time a little bit,” Sagcan said. “It’s a unique space in this part of town.”

In addition to their various vintage goods, Diliberto and Hodell also collaborated to create the collection Local Love. It is an assortment they designed together of T-shirts, tote bags, prints of Downtown Syracuse and candles. Everyone involved in the production of Local Love is a local vendor.

Vintage Love also holds occasional DIY classes. The first one was on June 22 and for a flat fee of $40, all materials were included for customers to come in and build their own air plant terrariums. The class sold out.

“I think the space lends itself really well for some creative outlets,” Diliberto said.

She also said she would love to see more thrifters open up their own stores and create a vintage community in Syracuse. Diliberto said she wants to see downtown be a one-stop shop with multiple vintage venues.

“I’m all about collaborating. I really believe that competition breeds competition; business breeds business,” she said.

Vintage Love is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Many of their products are available to view at or on Instagram: @maeflowersvintage and @driftwoodandglitter.

“I was very fortunate that Shauna asked me to go on this adventure with her,” Hodell said. “It’s really exciting to be at this stage of downtown coming alive.”

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