Off the Beaten Path
Located on King Street East, Vintage Soul Geek’s beaming bright windows and high ceilings invoke an airy, spacious aesthetic for this retro walk-in closet. Sparkly accessories adorn exposed brick walls, storefront mannequins are perched in faux-fur hats, and wall-papered shelves are stocked with antique artifacts. The former Art Council of Hamilton building creates the perfect turn-key canvas to showcase Vintage Soul Geek’s prized jewels.
When owners Connie and Nik Bulajic purchased the retail space in February 2015, Vintage Soul Geek had been operating for five years at local tradeshows, and gaining an online following. Tired of the corporate grind, Nik decided to quit his day job as a lab technician and finally open that vintage shop his wife had been dreaming about since adolescence.
But Hamilton’s downtown core wasn’t necessarily their first pick. At one time, the now revitalized neighbourhood was considered the wrong side of the tracks. “As a lifelong Hamiltionian, there was never a reason to get off the bus here,” says Nik. “But now people are learning you can feel safe travelling past Ferguson Avenue.”
History in the Making
The vintage boutique features thousands of Connie’s curated gems and family heirlooms that date back as far as the 1800s. With three generations of fashion collectors, most of Vintage Soul Geek’s racks are dressed with private collections, while the remaining are hand-picked items from estate sales.
“Sometimes there are special pieces that people have been holding onto for a very long time. They don’t want it going to some thrift shop, they want its next destination to be a final resting place,” says Nik.
The bottomless treasure trove feels like a whimsical time-warp, a cozy spot to stretch out in on a rainy afternoon, while Etta James’ “Stormy Weather” sets the tone. From couture frocks, pedal-pushers and ornate jewellery, to graphic tees and Ziggy Stardust leotards, the eclectic collection draws diverse crowds looking to express their spirit-era. “I’m more of a slimy 1970s, moustache, unbuttoned plaid shirt and polyester pants, kind of guy,” says Nik.
Frocks and Frills
Stepping into Vintage Soul Geek, it’s hard to miss the dazzling wall-to-wall display of costume jewellery. And that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the 800 pounds of sparkling hardware living in storage. The family crown jewels are what distinguish the store from the crowd of thrift shops cropping up throughout downtown Hamilton. “Hamilton vintage isn’t cookie cutter. As the scene continues to grow, thrift and consignment shops are having to carve out their own edge,” explains Nik.
Along with a versatile selection of high-end frocks, Vintage Soul Geek’s chic but affordable apparel and accessories can fashion customers into a modern Grace Kelly for under $100.