Elizabeth Sweigart spends her days surrounded by hundreds of items, each with its own story to tell. The 26-year-old said she’s always been drawn to old things, whether it be a vinyl record or antique piece of clothing.
It still shocks her, she said, that nearly four years ago she opened her own vintage shop in Greenport selling many of those items.
“It was pretty spontaneous,” Sweigart said.
Originally from Texas, she moved to New York in 2008 to study art at Marymount Manhattan College. In 2013, her father, Michael Sweigart, converted space at the former Suffolk Times building on Main Street, which he owned, to start the new business with his daughter.
The array of items for sale ranges from children’s toys to dishware, chairs, lamps, records, men’s and women’s clothing and jewelry.
“I believe there’s a little something for everyone,” Sweigart said. “I think people come in here looking for something and then walk away with something they did not expect to find.”
Sweigart and her employee, Ria Anasagasti, both said they particularly enjoy dealing with the clothing.
“My favorite part is getting new loads of clothes in and unveiling them and getting to tag and inspect them,” said Anasagasti, 21. The Mattituck resident has been working at the store for almost two years.
“I love everything about the shop,” she said. “Every day is an exciting day at The Times Vintage.”
The small business has also spread its vintage vibe to other shops in Greenport. For example, Ms. Sweigart recently created a window display at Crazy Beans that fits with the café’s retro theme. The items on display there are available for sale to Crazy Beans customers.
Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market on Front Street recently started a Vinyl Night, which takes place every Thursday in January and February, with the help of The Times Vintage’s vast record collection.
“There’s a really tight community of small-business owners in town,” said Ian Wile, owner of Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market. He said he was bouncing around the idea of a record night as something fun the community can do during the winter months and reached out to Sweigart to see if she could set up a pop-up in his store.
He said it ended up being a fun night and was a good way to cross-promote the businesses for people who might not know the scope of items the vintage shop sells.
“She’s got an incredible record selection and great barware and some really cool stuff that crosses genders and ages,” Wile said.
He also called Sweigart a “strong community member,” recalling a time when he and his staff wanted to attend a tiki-themed night at the bar Brix & Rye but had nothing to wear.
He called Sweigart to ask if she had anything suitable in the store and within 10 minutes she came over with a box full of Hawaiian-themed shirts and dresses that the staff and even some customers could buy to wear. He said that was something he’ll always remember as a business owner — and the customers will, too.
“I think Greenport really embraces the community so I don’t see myself having the same kind of experience in a larger city,” Sweigart said.
She said she has a lot of repeat customers and one of her favorite parts of owning the business is getting to know each person who browses around her store.
The items that end up in the shop come from all different places and many are dropped off by locals.
“We never know what we are going to get in but it keeps it interesting,” she said. “We help find homes for these things that are special.”
What Sweigart said is different about running a vintage shop is that everything in the store is one-of-a-kind. She calls it a “meant-to-be moment” when a customer finds a piece of clothing they love in their size or a unique piece of jewelry or furniture.
She hopes to refine her business by providing a greater variety of men’s vintage wear, for example. She also hopes to expand her business by planning pop-ups on the South Fork, hosting more summer events involving local artists and musicians and said that perhaps even a mobile shop is in the near future.
For now, during the winter months, her shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday.
“It’s a place where people can come and be entertained and maybe walk away with something they love,” Sweigart said, adding she thanks the community for its continued support. It has always been her dream to have her own vintage store but she never thought it would happen so early in her life.
“I feel very lucky and thankful,” she said.