Back from a month-long trip to Italy, where he scoured street markets in Rome for baubles, scarves and anything that might fit into his suit-case, José Sanchez is ready for summer. His shop, Wistaria Vintage, a lesser-known treasure trove of pre-owned clothing, accessories and small furnishings on the edge of Mt. Airy, has been open for more than a year. But for Sanchez, it’s a work in progress.
“I’ve been interested in vintage clothing since I was a teenager,” says the 30-year-old. “I wanted to have my own business and work for myself. The building had been mostly vacant for years, and it was calling my name.”
The shop—which features handpicked fashions from the ’40s through the ’90s as well as jewelry, sunglasses, casual menswear and a few consigned items—shares the property with a carriage house Sanchez calls home on a block brimming with Philadelphia history. (Cliveden, the site of the Battle of Germantown, and the Johnson House, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, are just a few doors away, and nearby is the Wyck House, whose association with the famous Wistar family inspired the name of the shop.)
When Sanchez moved in, he outfitted the space with reclaimed items from the neighborhood and his family, including his great-grandmother’s antique mirror. A shoe rack is made from old metal fencing, and hats are hung on antique candlesticks. (“Most people don’t notice,” he says. “But the only thing new is my computer.”) He even carries a few housewares and small furnishings from time to time—pretty much anything that might be considered “vintage.”
“It depends really on the age of customer and what they think vintage is,” admits Sanchez. “But a large part of my business is young kids. To make anyone feel really old, the ’90s is starting to be vintage.”
This profile appears in the summer issue of G Philly magazine. Pick up a copy at your favorite LGBT-friendly destination in the region or subscribe online. You can also visit Wistaria Vintage: 6375 Germantown Avenue, Mt. Airy, 215-789-9953, wistariavintage.com.