Interview with Area 52 Vintage!

I’ve been shopping at Area 52 Vintage for 5+ years and it’s by far my favorite antique mall booth of all time. It’s a serious time capsule with so much attention to detail. Imagine my absolute delight when the sisters who own Area 52 opened up a shop on Whurl as well last year. Everytime I post photos from my trips there I get lots of comments asking about it so I thought I’d give Melia, one of the co-owners, a chance to answer some questions about instagrams’ favorite antique mall shop!
– How long have you had Area 52? What inspired you and your sister to open it?

Area 52 Vintage was born in the early 1990s. Not by that name then, but the first stage of it’s birth. Annette and I had this crazy idea that we could take our love for mid-century modern and sell it here and there. Both of us needed some extra money. We’d figured out where to easily get merchandise a couple of years earlier. At that time in So Cal you could load up a truck in one morning it was so prolific! Back in the early 90s there was no online vintage selling. Brick and mortar was it! eBay was born in 1995 and so was my first online account. I changed User ID names over the years but one of the main ones was Junk To Funk. I sold everything known to man while figuring out my brand.
We have been at The Orange Circle Antique Mall since 1995. Space 112 in the basement, back in the corner was the start! Took a brief break in 1999 when I moved to Temecula in Riverside County. We came back as Area 52 Vintage (that was our space number) and the current name is a spoof twist on the military’s Area 51 in Roswell. Always somewhat of a mystery as to what you’ll find in our space!!

– How do you curate your shop so perfectly?! It’s like a 1969 time capsule!

We lived it! I was born in 1958 and Annette in 1968. 100% native to So Cal!! We shared a bedroom in Santa Ana so our groovy love got going there. I had sssooooooooo much flower power, some psychedelic posters and a few mini skirts. My little sister could not get enough of them! Annette being so young, worshipped it all because her big sister had it. I know it inside and out because it was my life. I was raised on Rowan and Martins Laugh-In, Adam 12 and The Brady Bunch. By the way……I was Marcia and Annette was Cindy! No rules other than its gotta be shocking, bright and original vintage!

– What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve ever found for Area 52?

Holy smokes I would not know where to start on some of my favorite pieces I’ve found over the last 25 years. The biggest and by far the most lucrative is a gargantuan poster collection Annette and I purchased in 2004. It was over 120,000 vintage posters from the late 1960s to 1978. Think Farrah Fawcett Red Bathing Suit (10,000 total) in original covers with tags or Alice Cooper velvet flocked black light (2,000 total). Seriously killer find. Jaw dropping in magnitude and scope. Only crazy groovy people would have tackled it. I could talk to you for an hour just on that one haul! Credit goes to Annette for finding it and talking me into it. She is great at finding merch!
Honestly I could go on and on about groovy finds and places they were found. I have a photographic memory and most of prime pieces I can tell you where they were when I found them. My favorite pillows are an identical ROUND trio……..about 16”, late 1960s, all shag carpet, ….one gold, one marigold and one avocado green. I still want to hug them every time i see them! Found at an Estate Sale in Sun City, perched on a retro bed for $2.00 each!! Way crazy!! 10 years ago I was in a RivCo thrift store and out walks a worker with a big box. Before she put it down I saw it was loaded with Franciscan Starburst dishes. Snagged the box for 5 bucks!

– What are your thoughts on the demand for vintage in 2018? Have you seen a steady incline in sales or has it been up and down over the years? I think about this a lot since I think vintage-lovers are lifetime customers but at the same time vintage always feels trendy. 
The thing that is way cool about vintage is that we are mostly selling memories. Things hold memories for people. The thing that has helped me most over the years has been always to remain nimble. Don’t get stuck anywhere. I moved from mostly mid-century into groovy psychedelic about 10 years into it. Part of it was just fine tuning my brand but the biggest part is understanding trends change as populations grow older. Generally the older people get, the more purchasing power they have. They want to buy THEIR memories. Things they had or their parents had. And Hollywood has helped. Think Mad Men! I was not raised in the 1980s with Rainbow Brite, Hello Kitty or Cabbage Patch. But 35 year olds were. The changing trends are just memory trends. The current political climate has also brought a resurgence of interest of the hippie era. It has brought about some awesome current art, weaving in many of the ideas and images from the 1960s. I love the merging of the now and then.

Make sure to follow @area52vintage on Whurl & Instagram

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