By Sam Ueda
If you haven’t noticed that vintage clothing is taking over, you’re living under a rock. If you have noticed and are looking for a place to buy some, a short bus ride will take you to downtown Newmarket, where you will find Concetta’s Closet, a peek into the rich history and rebirth of vintage clothes in a modern setting.
Concetta’s Closet is owned and operated by 35-year-old Newmarket resident Dana Hanson. Once a New Yorker working for MTV, she ditched the Big Apple hustle three years ago and started some New Hampshire noise a year and a half later. Now, Concetta’s Closet is well established and selling some seriously cool stuff. I met with Dana to talk about how she got her start, vintage terminology, and what you should be checking out for your fall and winter wardrobe!
Main Street Magazine: Give me the when, why and how of this store.
Dana Hanson: It’s not a long story, but a funny one. I moved here from New York, had the online media experience, and couldn’t find a job for two years doing anything even closely related to that without traveling to Boston and having to commute that hellish ride. So, I went to my attic and realized that I had boxes of vintage clothing from when I was a kid up until now. A lot of the stuff didn’t fit me (two kids later, the whole nine yards) so I started selling it on Etsy, which is a platform to sell vintage clothing as well as crafty items. It took off, so I did that for about 8 months. Then my husband had the great idea about finding me a spot. I was petrified of actually opening up a brick and mortar store because it’s a huge endeavor. It’s a lot of responsibility. I’ve never been an entrepreneur, I’ve never owned my own company, I’ve always worked for big corporate conglomerate companies, but it does run in my blood. My father owned a business for 25 years, so I dug deep down inside and found the willpower to actually sign a lease and get it started. And here I am, almost exactly a year later.
MSM: On a national and local scale, what do you attribute to the rise of popularity of vintage clothing?
DH: It’s really more of a global scale. My number one customer is Australia. There are boxes upon boxes that go out every day. Number two is the U.K. Vintage fashion has always been trendy to me, but I tend to think that it’s shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire or Pan Am that are starting to let people know that vintage style and clothing is not for costumes and special occasions, that it can be worn every day.
MSM: What do people like to buy around here?
DH: UNH students come here a lot and there is a huge range of girls that I sell to, in terms of their style. I have the hipster crew who love 80s rompers and 70s secretary blouses, flirty floral skirts from the 70s and 80s. The younger crowd tends to lean more towards styles in the 90s.
MSM: You sell 90s?
DH: I don’t, I refuse to. I graduated high school in 1994. I couldn’t tell you what I would hand select to sell as vintage just because I wore vintage clothes in the 90s.
MSM: What about the men’s section?
DH: (Laughs) The ever-dwindling section of men’s… We have one shelf of ties and hats. There are a few really cool guys’ shirts. The reason I don’t do men’s clothes so much is that if you are not super into vintage clothes, and wear the suits and button down shirts and slacks, men’s vintage clothes will come off as costume-y. When I think of men’s clothes, I think of Ron Burgundy. It’s polyester suits, bell-bottoms and funky shirts. And not to mention, men sometimes like to wear their clothes until they’re falling apart, so when I do receive men’s clothes, they are very old and worn out.
MSM: This is an important one that people should know – what’s the difference between vintage, consignment and thrifting?
DH: In my eyes, consignment clothing is a store where the owner does not own the clothing; people off the street and in the neighborhood will bring them their clothing, which encompasses all types of modern and vintage clothing, new or used, to resell. The owner takes a cut of the price, and so does the owner of the clothing.
Thrifting is a new term that has become a complete buzzword as of the last two years I think. Thrifting is going to a store that takes donated clothes – usually used, sometimes new, sometimes vintage, usually not washed or taken care of. I will say that finding vintage clothing in thrift stores is not what it used to be. People that own these thrift stores know that there are people looking for vintage clothes, and it drives the prices up. Everybody’s looking to make money. For those thrift stores that are charities, if they want to find vintage clothing and sell it on their own platform, that’s fine, but sometimes I think, especially sometimes the younger crowd can get confused about the difference between vintage and thrift clothing.
A vintage clothing boutique, in my definition, is a curated collection of clothing of past eras. The reason I say curated is because anyone can open up a vintage store, buy bags of bulk vintage clothing, sell them all, and not care about what they look like or what story it tells. I guess I may be different than some other vintage boutiques because I care a lot about where my clothes come from. I am constantly washing and sewing, bringing things to the dry cleaners. These clothes matter to me because 90 percent of the pieces I get in are from private sales. I basically know from who and where each piece of clothing in this store comes from. The best part about what I do is actually meeting people who were related to the people who owned the clothing and I can let that person’s memory live on through another young lady. There are so many beautiful dresses to be worn and enjoyed for decades to come. Why throw things out?