Local shops are riding the vintage trend

Local shops are riding the vintage trend
Scott Daniels

Genevieve Beatty is the owner of Genevieve’s on Second in Dover.


Two area businesses are riding a trend that has been growing for the past couple of decades: the popularity of second-hand furniture and household items. Though both stores are in the same category, each approaches the way they choose what customers find in their stores a little differently.

Genevieve’s on Second is in Dover while The Retro Ward makes its home in Navarre. Both places are generally quite busy. Though each is different, each owner agrees on what’s hot.

“People are looking for mid-century modern, Danish modern, clean lines,” Genevieve Beatty of the Dover store said. “And it’s across the age spectrum, from young couples in their 20s on up into folks in their 80s.”

“Mid-century modern, for sure,” Michelle Ward at The Retro Ward said. “For some people it represents that kind of ‘Mad Men’ aesthetic, and others are recreating what they knew from their childhood. They have good Christmas memories with family, and those backgrounds are a part of their memories. Then there are older folks who remember what their house looked like years ago and want to recreate it.”

It’s easy to understand for Ward, who said she finds herself drawn to the styles of the mid-20th century naturally.

The long-running hit series, “Mad Men,” had a major impact on the market. ”You could see that happening,” Beatty said.

The show was noted for its extreme attention to detail in its costuming and set decoration.

“I have a lot of customers in their 60s who are looking for kitchen stuff from when they were starting out,” Ward said. “And many people are looking for vintage Christmas decorations, the kinds of things they remember or have seen in movies or on TV.”

Retro Ward has a bright 1950s drive-in feel with floor space packed with chrome, blonde wood furniture and bright colors. A space is dedicated to vintage clothing and accessories. Radios, cake savers and cocktail glasses are tucked among scarves and the odd rotary telephone. She has trouble keeping chrome dining sets in stock.

“I started out eight years ago,” Ward said. “I’d finished college, and this is something I’d always wanted to do. This building was available, and I thought I’d rather try and have to close in six months than never do it and say, ‘Man, I really wish I had opened my own store.’”

Beatty has been open for three years. “We’ve always done flea markets and rental booths,” she said. “We thought we were ready to expand and just happened to find this building for rent. We took the leap.”

Beatty said customers also are thinking of a bigger picture when buying second-hand. “They’re thinking of the planet and how they can minimize their impact by recycling what is already available. Of course they also want clean lines, so that’s part of why mid-century is so hot as well. And it just works in a lot of homes,” she said.

Both stores are large. At Genevieve’s on Second, the building stretches over the full lot, and all of it is filled with furniture spanning 100 years of styles. Accessories, jewelry, clothing and household items are in the mix, along with thousands of vinyl record albums.

Beatty said Genevieve’s is always busy. “We’re open four days a week, and we’re busy all four days,” she said.

Both also are offering pieces that are either ready for a complete paint redo or finished. Ward has a lower floor stocked with painted furniture, and Beatty offers a line of chalk paint for do-it-yourself recyclers along with scattered finished pieces.

Many of the stocked pieces are unusual, something to keep in mind as Christmas approaches. “In vintage pieces you can find great gifts that are unique and not something you’ll find at the mall,” Beatty said.

Ward, who also offers a stock of vinyl, is always trying new things, looking to find just the right buyer. “I had an amazing vintage dress here, but it was tiny, like a double zero. And a tiny woman came in who needed a dress for a party and tried it on. It actually had to be taken in a little, but she looked amazing, like she’d stepped out of a movie,” she said.

Genevieve’s on Second is located at 226 W. Second St. in Dover. The Retro Ward is at 5 Canal St. E. in Navarre.

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