Tag Archives: best vintage shops

shop spy: hotel de ville in los angeles

Hotel de Ville on Best Vintage Shops map by Finely Crafted
Illustration by Cindy Tomczyk

It’s amazing how many looks can be achieved with two lenses and a frame. Like our clothing, shoes, and hairstyles, eyewear evolves radically with the times. The Los Angeles optical company Hotel de Ville is dedicated to preserving vintage glasses and designing new silhouettes that salute memorable moments in fashion.

Hotel de Ville
Photo via Hotel de Ville.

Whereas a chain optical store may turn away vintage glasses or ask you to waive its responsibility for any damage, Hotel de Ville specializes in old specs. Its services include mending broken frames, making Rx lenses, adding tint and mirror coatings, and even creating one-of-a-kind glasses for the fashion and entertainment industries. It also has its own brand of vintage-inspired frames, like these:

Hollywood Boulevard and Newmar, two original frame designs by Hotel de Ville.

I’m inspired by the way HdV employees use their blog and Instagram feed not just for self-promotion, but as a visual record of remarkable eyewear. They post mainly historical images of musicians, actors, models, and even comic characters who, even if I don’t recognize them, tell me something about their era and story through their shades. This may be just a clever sales strategy, but to me it feels personal, as if true fans are swooning along with me over Twiggy’s avant garde glasses.

Photos via Hotel de Ville's Instagram feed.
Photos via Hotel de Ville’s Instagram feed and blog.

I was in LA last week for work, so I popped into the Beverly Boulevard boutique to snap a few photos and get my Tura cat-eye glasses adjusted. They’ve been sliding down my nose all summer–the blazing Atlanta heat must have warped the aluminum!

Salesperson Sylvia made a quick frame adjustment at no charge. While she coaxed my shades back into a head-hugging pose, I admired the small but glamorous showroom that evokes both an antique apothecary and a starlet’s dressing table. Follow me after the jump for photos of the interior and inventory.

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shop spy: city issue in atlanta

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

As the only freestanding midcentury specialist in Atlanta, City Issue is Mecca for local Mad Men fans. A full-time vintage dealer since 2000, owner Jennifer Sams has enviable knowledge of the modern design movement and cross-country experience with finding exquisite pieces. I photographed her Inman Park shop and asked her to dish on topics to titillate the growing mass of midcentury style seekers: her favorite cities for antiquing, the best buys for starting a collection, and more.

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

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shop spy: atlanta vintage books

Best Vintage Shops in Atlanta map by Finely Crafted
Illustration by Cindy Tomczyk.

Last year, during a day of thrifting in antique-rich Chamblee, Georgia, an unassuming used bookstore I’d passed dozens of times suddenly lured me in. I wandered Atlanta Vintage Books aimlessly at first, but after exploring two levels of rare, collectible, and plain ole used titles on every subject, I was filled with manic inspiration tugging me in ten directions. ESP? Yes, I’ve been meaning to look into that! A 60s typography book that looks straight out of Mad Men? Obviously, Don Draper would want me to have that. Teen dramas with sherbet-colored spines? I need photos of those for my vintage design file.

Atlanta Vintage Books

Bob Roarty says his 7,000-square-foot bookstore is like “Cheers without the beer,” a place for locals of all ages and interests to gather and make connections. I see what he means — couples read cozily in the nooks, and college study groups sprawl on the well-worn furniture. But I’ve always visited solo, making exciting connections with the books themselves. To me, it’s more like the best used music stores, where the inventory surprises you, the titles strike chords with your personal history, and the staff eagerly guides you toward a meaningful purchase.

Five roaming shop cats, the salvaged sofas, and the conspicuously absent coffee bar let you know you’re not at Barnes & Noble. “A place like this has a character to it, a personality, and a comfort that you don’t get in a new bookstore,” says employee George Walters. While I love the convenience of loading up my digital cart on Amazon, I agree that real, distinctive, curated shops like AVB have a firm (if a tad musty) place in society. I’m not alone, because sales have increased every year since Bob and his wife, Jan Bolgla, bought the business in 2007.

Atlanta Vintage Books

Some inventory is available online, but getting a taste of the shop this way is a flavorless morsel. Hunting used books is a sensory experience that must be enjoyed in person. For instance, the online books’ descriptions include their blemishes (worn covers, rubbed type, etc.), which in the virtual environment sound like red flags. But the books’ bruises, dog-eared pages, scribbles, and scents are actually part of their history and charm. I hope you’ll wander into Atlanta Vintage Books soon and come out with your own story to share. Please give Callie the cat a tickle from me.

3660 Clairmont Road // Chamblee, GA 30341 // 770.457.2919