FLEAKIN' OUT WITH SAILORMADE VINTAGE
A history seeker, a collector of connections, and a purveyor of interesting finds: for Sarah Austin, SailorMade is about adventure, and the things you find while pursuing it. Her shop is the culmination of her wanderlust, from the nostalgic to the unusual and everything in between.
What does SAILORMADE VINTAGE mean to you?
For me, SailorMade is a vehicle for discovery and connections. There's something new I get to learn from every find, whether it's about a place, an era, or some fad of long ago—pole-sitting? streaking? pet rocks?—I can zoom out to see a big-picture of the connection between knowing a bit about the personal history of an item and then passing it on to a new owner. It's like a mini time-travel adventure in every sale.
QUICK FACT #1
Vintage gadgets with a story.
QUICK FACT #2
Goods from a landlocked sailor, finds that celebrate old things found in in new places.
QUICK FACT #3
Vintage for the people—affordable, awesome.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH COLLECTING.
Growing up, I spent summers at our family cottage that was chock- full of weird old stuff. I loved finding impossibly old-fashioned things in drawers or tucked away in the rafters, and inventing stories about where it all came from. Four generations worth of souvenirs from long-defunct roadside attractions, musty books, cast iron skillets, a taxidermy squirrel and deer, hand-carved fishing lures. Compared to my everyday house, it was just magical. Somewhere along the line I realized I could find exactly that kind of stuff adrift at thrift stores and estate sales—I salvage those awesome items and connect them with new adoring owners.
How did you get your start?
I’ve loved yard sales and thrift stores since I was a kid. We didn’t have a lot of money, and dollars went a lot farther on secondhand! In college I spent almost every Sunday morning at Eastern Market in Washington, DC, which has a great array of vintage, art, and food vendors. After college, I ran away to sea, and in my seven years sailing (yep, that’s where the name comes from!) the rest of the crew might be sleeping off a hangover, but if I had a day of shore leave, I’d be up early to poke into junk shops and seek out flea markets in any port we visited.
what kind of finds does sailormade specialize in?
I deal in stuff with stories—things that will reflect their collector’s imagination, memories and sense of humor. I seek out flea markets and estate sales the way some folks hunt down microbreweries or skateparks. Since I look in a lot of places, my finds are pretty eclectic, but I snap up a lot of art. It’s the easiest way to add a bit of retro flair to your home. Your very favorite piece of vintage clothing might only get worn a few times a year, but that framed yarn art of a bunch of celery? The Spinal Tap poster? Those will make you smile every damn day.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF?
More than I care to admit! My loves are rhinestone costume jewelry from the 50s, nautical books, old black and white photographs of families that aren’t mine, inadvertently creepy baby dolls—and when I travel, I look for tiny vintage felt pennants of the places I’m visiting. My favorite finds are always the unexpected—a beaded Victorian capelet in the housewares aisle at the ARC, sweet New Wave band posters at an old lady estate sale, an excellent cursive typewriter at a shuttered barber shop. Those ones remind me to always keep my eyes peeled.