At some vintage stores you feel like you’re pulling off a heist—you find a pair of iconic sunglasses for $10 and keep your poker face until you get outside and start smiling. Like good fishing holes, however, you keeps their names and locations to yourself. Then there are the stores that are open secrets, like Mister Freedom in LA. Everybody knows how good they are and they’re frequented by industry types trying to find the perfect canvas coat to knockoff or Japanese collectors ferociously hunting for a pair of 1940’s Red Wings. For certain design-obsessed types money becomes irrelevant (though it helps if you’ve got the corporate Am Ex).
Stock Vintage, set in a late 1800’s building on East 13th Street, is the type of place where you know what’s there is going to be good—and priced accordingly. Melissa Howard opened Stock in 2006, and there’s evidence of the telltale signs of a talented hoarder: stacks of clothes on every available surface, talk of buying trips, and rumors of an overstocked warehouse in Brooklyn. The store turns over a lot of boots, leather belts, flannel shirts, and canvas bags. There are also unique items like a 1920’s LL Bean tartan coat or a 1950’s Wrangler chambray shirt. Melissa has a keen eye for menswear, functional antiques, and interior design. Her collector’s habit still kicks in when a favorite piece is purchased: “Sometimes,” she says, “it’s difficult to say goodbye.”