Apt528: Virtual Vintage from Chicago

Apt528: Virtual Vintage from Chicago

Jason Loper
Feb 15, 2013

Store History

  • Founded: 2009
  • Founded by: India Shannon
  • Headquarters: Chicago

India Shannon has a crush on color. One stroll through her web shop, Apt528, makes that very clear. In addition to an eye for color, India can also spot a quality mid-century piece from a mile away, a knack that benefits anyone browsing her store.

Name/Title: India Shannon; owner, buyer, picker, whatever

Open date: Apt528 opened September 2009 in Boston before packing up and moving to Chicago in August 2010. 

Inspiration for opening: Giving affordable design to renters (and owners!) while supporting amazingly talented designers. As a renter by choice, I don't think you have to own a place to make it a home. At the same time, you don't want to blow your budget decorating a temporary home nor do you want tons of dust collecting on owls and Polaroid cameras to move from apartment to apartment. I'm all for making the everyday items you use look awesome so they're both form and function. So, that's what we peddle - colorful vintage and quirky handmade that can actually be used. 

Merchandise source: When it comes to handmade, we take submissions, but mostly I find people online. I usually start by Googling a product that I need for my apartment or for a gift. I figure if I'm looking for it, someone else probably is too. Then I spend a few months stalking the designers before I ask them to join the store. With the dawn of Etsy, it's easy to find cool stuff, but if I'm still following the same people months later and wanting to own their products, I know they're a perfect fit for us. I also love going to Renegade Craft Fair. Often, I've already followed the artisans online so when I meet them in person at Renegade, it's like being united with a long lost family member! For vintage, thrifting and craigslist will always be my first loves. I like the thrill of finding things on craigslist and hoping you're the first to email, or of stumbling like a maniac to grab a hidden gem in a thrift store before someone else sees it. Since moving to Chicago, I've also become a fan of estate sales. Of course out here estate sales are an art so I'm still trying to learn some of the tricks of the trade!

Best selling item: Right now, people are in love with our wood jewelry by Vectorcloud. We started out only selling her mid-century inspired wood clocks (image #5 above). Then we decided to add her jewelry to Sublet, our monthly, limited-quantity sale where we sell things (such as jewelry) that we wouldn't normally offer. But it turns out people liked the jewelry so much that we added it to our regular inventory. The designs are so neat - from a retro TV brooch with room to insert your own picture, to an old-school camera. Plus they're unisex so everyone can wear them!

Your favorite item: I'm a color addict so I think I'd have to go with a tie between the new pillows we just got in from Mokuyobi Threads and any of My Zoetrope's illustrated calendars and notebooks (image #4 above). If it's color saturated, I'm all over it! 

Favorite store (other than your own) Hmm... My most frequented store would have to be Home Depot. I know the employees and they know me. One of them even snuck an orange apron to me one day. It was so covert that I felt like I was buying drugs or getting top secret intel! I rarely buy something for the house anymore but when I do, I get it from Etsy. I'm all about supporting the little guy! 

Apt528 is currently an online-only shop. India is looking for a new storefront in Chicago to set up a brick and mortar shop. Until then, you can also catch her at events like this weekend's TVB Pop-up at DANK Haus

For more about Apartment 528:, visit their store page over at Marketplace.

(Images: Apt528)

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