The vintage scene in Pittsburgh is extensive. Luckily, for vintage lovers like myself, there is a biannual celebration uniting the finest regional vintage. On Saturday, April 6, the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer will open its doors at the Teamsters Hall Local 249 in Lawrenceville for its 13th season and third Home Show.
Vintage connoisseurs and Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer founders Bess Dunlevy, Jason Sumney and Michael Lutz create a welcoming, inclusive, home goods vintage experience. They select valid vintage small businesses that offer unique furniture, vinyl records, art, fashion, collectibles, textiles, glassware and much more. Lutz said it best in Rick Sebak’s “Nebby” episode profiling the mixer, “It’s a party and everything is for sale!”
There are many reasons to opt for vintage wares over traditional retail stores. It is sustainable, durable and reasonable on the wallet. “You can buy affordable vintage stuff that has been around for decades and will be around for decades,” said Sumney. Vintage shopping is also an exercise in cultivating your personal style. “It’s a learning experience to see all the different styles from the past that you can put together in a new way and make it your own for your home,” said Lutz.
Whether this is your first home-inspired Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer, or you are a regular, you can benefit from the below insider tips courtesy of Dunlevy, Sumney and Lutz.
Carve out Time for Shopping (and Conversation)
“Take your time. There are two floors of sellers, and it often gets busy,” said Bess. “One of our sayings is ‘kitsch, conversation and collectibles’ and the conversation between visitors and our sellers is really special.” Lutz adds, “Circle through and see everything once, and then think in your head what you want.” However, if a truly unique piece catches your eye, consider buying it immediately. It may not be there when you return.
To keep your energy high, the Mixer has local businesses onsite to provide nourishment. Badamo’s Pizza will be serving pizza, Espresso a Mano will be brewing coffee and Allegheny Wine Mixer will be serving cocktails.
How to Haggle
Haggling or bargaining prices is common in the vintage community; however, there is an art to it. “I always go in feeling out the seller,” said Bess. “I think you get a vibe right away as to whether someone wants to rap with you about something or not.” Quick tips for haggling:
- Wait to haggle toward the end of the show
- Bring cash to promote the conversation of bargaining
- Buy multiple items from the same vendor – vendors reward loyalty
- Be respectful; do not insult the seller’s prices. Kindness goes a long way. Remember vendors are small businesses earning a living.
Bring A Large Vehicle and/or Large Reusable Bags
Bring the largest vehicle available to you. There is free parking behind the Teamsters Building. If you do not have access to a vehicle, bring large reusable tote bags. You never know what you will find at the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer (“like a giant animatronic rabbit!” Lutz chimes in); prepare for the unexpected.
If you need to unload your treasures and return, the Mixer offers free re-entry.
Start in the Basement
The basement tends to be less crowded. It is where the vinyl lives along with an assortment of other vendors. It is a great place to start shopping.
Dress to Impress
The Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer has evolved into an inclusive fashion event. Feel free to turn up the vintage volume on your style. “A lot of people see the Mixer as a place to be inspired; a safe space for people who are into vintage,” said Lutz. “Let their freak flag fly!” adds Sumney.
Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer tickets can be purchased on the day of the event at the door (April 6th).
Early Bird Shopping (8:30 AM to 10 AM) – $15 for adult, $5 for kids under 12
General Admission (10 AM – 5 PM) – $5 for adult, Free for kids under 12
A portion of the Home show’s proceeds will be donated to the American Porphyria Foundation. Jason Sumney, was diagnosed with Porphyria, a hereditary disease that affects the nervous system and organs, in 2014.
Shop vintage and show your support!