A turning point came in 2014 when they set up shop as a vintage pop-up at the V.O.D. boutique in Dallas. “The response was so overwhelming, it took us aback,” Ms. Boufelfel said. “It was a ready-to-wear customer who didn’t know how to mix it — they weren’t women who would walk into a vintage store — and they would say things like, ‘Your styling has inspired me to wear an original ’30s dress and not feel like it was a costume.’”
An early fan was Emily Bode, who bought clothing online from Desert Vintage — she went through a phase of buying Edwardian whites — before founding her own line, which is known for its vintage and antique fabrics. “There’s not that many people who sell vintage in such pristine quality and who carry Celine, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and obscure designers and rare and fragile pieces from the 1800s and 1920s,” Ms. Bode said.
She met the couple in 2016 when she bought a red silk skirt from their booth at A Current Affair, a traveling vintage clothing show, and they soon became close friends. “At that point, there weren’t that many people our age in the vintage game,” said Ms. Bode, who was driving home from a quilt auction in New Jersey. “When we were at auctions, we were pretty much the only people there under 40.”
It was when she opened her Bode store on Hester Street in 2019 that she started lobbying for them to open a shop nearby. “It was so clear it works for us, and we have a similar customer as Desert Vintage, one who has a shared love for antiques and histories,” Ms. Bode said.
After looking at several locations around Chinatown and the Lower East Side, they signed a lease at 34 Orchard Street. Ms. Bode’s husband, Aaron Aujla, and his business partner, Benjamin Bloomstein, who own the furniture and interior design studio Green River Project, were enlisted to transform the space.
“It’s kind of like doing a portrait of someone,” Mr. Aujla said of the design process. “Over the course of the last five to six years of traveling with them, having them at every Bode show, every store opening, I really know who they are as a couple and as an entity, as a business. I wanted to paint this picture of them as romantics and historians, and their vision of the past as holistic and beautiful and contemporary and relevant.”