New era for vintage furnishings store

Era Vintage at Modern Artifacts

Diana Mathews tested the market with a pop-up shop. (Photos courtesy of Diana Mathews)

An online vintage store is putting down roots in Church Hill.

Era Vintage, which until recently was a web-only retailer selling mid-century cookware, furniture and lighting, will take over a storefront at 2241 Venable St. Owner Diana Mathews said she wants to be up and running by March, in time for the first anniversary of the website’s launch.

“I think people in the neighborhood are ready for something like this,” Mathews said. “There aren’t any options for furniture or home decor in the area right now.”

Diana Mathews

Era Vintage owner Diana Mathews says she was “born in the wrong decade.”

A $10,000 grant from a Bon Secours East End development program will help Mathews finance the build out. She already has most of the inventory: cutlery, couches, credenzas and more.

“I’ve been able to do this without falling into debt, which was one of the reasons why I started with a website and not a brick-and-mortar store,” Mathews said.

Mathews stores and occasionally shows pieces at a warehouse in Chester, but she said the Church Hill storefront should be more convenient for most of her customers, although she’s shipped smaller items to customers in places as far away as Montana.

The planned Era Vintage location at 2241 Venable St.

To test the market, Mathews ran a pop-up store in Carytown’s Modern Artifacts in November and December.

“I’ve been really pleased with the turnout,” Mathews said. “Obviously, people only need so many china cabinets, but I’ve seen a few repeat customers.”

Mathews, who used to manage downtown gallery Quirk, said her fascination with vintage pieces dates back years.

“I was born in the wrong decade,” Mathews said. “I’ve always been really interested in fashion and design from the ’60s, and my collection just kept growing over the years. When it got to be more than I could store, I started Era Vintage.”

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