Rather than a traditional storefront or website, a new Richmond retailer chose a different route to drive sales: a vintage mobile camper.
Love This, which sells jewelry, accessories, bags and soaps from a renovated 20-by-8 1969 Airstream Globetrotter, began peddling its wares last month at festivals and markets around Richmond.
Owners Rupa Singh and Amber Lantz said the choice has attracted both the socially conscious shoppers and vintage camper enthusiasts.
“I think people are just really intrigued by a mobile shop,” Singh said. “There are so many Airstream enthusiasts that are around. They want to talk about the parts and what the renovation was like.”
Singh and Lantz found the gutted camper on Craigslist and bought it from a Harrisonburg, Virginia, family. They paid about $3,500 for it. They patched up holes in the aluminum, painted the trailer and put in hardwood floors.
“The family who owned it had gutted the Airstream and so no one else wanted it,” Lantz said in an email. “Luckily for us, a gutted Airstream at that price was exactly what we needed.”
Singh said the Airstream was a perfect fit for Love This’ emphasis on handmade and fair-trade products.
“Putting products in a beautiful home that was handmade was perfect,” Singh said.
She and Lantz sell mostly jewelry, which they get from all over the world from companies that incorporate some kind of social mission in their businesses. Love This’ products include sandals made in Uganda and earrings made from bullet casings in North Carolina.
Singh and Lantz met while working at Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown.
“We’re both passionate about being conscious consumers,” Singh said. “We’ve always stuck to the idea of working with socially responsible brands.”
They first pitched Love This in 2013 at the i.e. Start-Up Competition. They went on to raise about $8,000 in an online crowdfunding campaign, got another $2,000 from friends and launched online sales in May 2014.
Love This made its first stop May 9 at the Good Day RVA Festival at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. It has also dropped by for events at ART180 in Jackson Ward, Union Market in Church Hill and a market on Addison Street in the Fan. And the company has plans for stops in downtown for First Friday and in Lakeside.
Eventually, Love This would like to truly hit the road Kerouac-style, but for now it will focus on building a following in Richmond and finding a place it can set up shop every day.
“We want to have a place where people can always find us,” Singh said. “We really want to get Richmond on board. We’d love to get a storefront someday.”