Friendly competition among a mother and her two daughters to see who could set the most lavish holiday tablescape gave way to a new business: The Vintage Pantry Co.
“We always included vintage items,” says design and merchandising director Blair Lee. “The idea for a business like this started there.”
The store officially opens on Oct. 14 and is located at 1731 Marsh Road at the Marsh Triangle Shops in Wilmington, Del.
The Vintage Pantry Co., per their catchphrase, offers “one-of-a-kind vintage finds and everyday entertaining essentials,” including items like tea towels, furniture and items to set a table. The family is also working with local artisans.
“It’s really important that we be part of the community and support the community,” Lee says.
Local crafts range from hand-poured candles from Moderncity + Main, unique terrariums by Twig Gardens, homemade soaps and lotions by Earthen Vibes and chunky woolen blankets from Meraki Wool.
“We didn’t want to have just a typical antique store. We wanted to be a store that offers things for anyone’s taste,” she says.
Lee says their vintage or vintage-inspired items are things that remind them of something that can be an heirloom or from a past decade or era. The women have been collecting vintage items from estate auctions, flea markets, yard sales and consignment shops for years.
“Vintage items make up a significant part of our inventory since that’s where we all get the most inspiration,” says Lee. “We go off of intuition and pick up the items that speak to us and our aesthetic.”
The trio—Kim Patterson, CEO; Leah Shank, social media manager; and Lee—started seriously working on the business in April. After Patterson left her job in the corporate world, she was interested in doing something more creative, Lee says. So were Lee and Shank, who work in insurance and banking, respectively.
“We want to fill that void that we don’t have at work, that creative piece of us. We need to have an outlet for that,” she says. “It’s fulfilling for my sister and me to explore that part of our personalities and have that creative outlet.”
Originally, they considered an online business.
“But, the more we talked about it, the parts we love the most are the design pieces—putting together vignettes or displays, showing people how they can use vintage items in new and interesting ways,” she says. “Brick-and-mortar lends itself more to that.”
They shifted gears and began looking for a space, eventually finding the property in Marsh Triangle Shops.
“We knew we wanted to stay in Delaware,” says Lee. “My mom and sister are local and we wanted to be part of the Delaware community. There aren’t many stores like ours here, or not many we could find, so we thought the market was pretty open for ours.”
While there are home goods stores in the state, Lee says that what they offer is unique.
“We’re trying to inspire customers, show them how they can use some of those heirloom and vintage items and how to mix it into contemporary items,” she says. “We fill a gap here that I haven’t seen in many stores.”
When the idea of the business started, Lee says they all agreed to one thing: quality.
“My mom, my sister and I—we have pretty different tastes and we all have our own unique style,” she says. “The one rule we all agreed to was that we wouldn’t have anything in the store that one of us wouldn’t love to have in our own homes. I think that’s going to help us relate to customers.”
Lee is excited to bring their products and style to local shoppers, and she is looking forward to forging a legacy with her mother and sister.
“We have this family of really strong women,” she says. “This venture is going to be, I think, so exciting because I get to work with my mom and my sister in something. I’m excited to share something with them.”
1731 Marsh Road, Wilmington, Del. (302) 884-7575, www.thevintagepantryco.com
The store is open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.