By Margo Greenman
Some of my favorite articles of clothing have come from thrift or vintage shops. There’s just something so satisfying about finding that perfect secondhand sweater or gently-used pair of leather boots that makes hours spent combing through racks of once-loved clothes worth it.
Jordan Tart, owner of Stadium District staple Pure Vintage Clothing, knows the value of a good vintage find all too well. “I’ve had this store for 20 years,” says Jordan. “But it was in my family for 20 years before that. My brother and I grew up in the business of junking. Even my grandmother on my dad’s side was an antiquer. It’s always been in our blood. We were either going to love it or hate it, and we ended up loving it.”
Before taking over the “family business” at the young age of 16, Jordan’s parents operated the storefront under a different name. However, during Jordan’s early teen years, her parents struggled to keep the store open. Not because business was bad, but because they were busy raising two middle school-age children.
“When [my brother and I] were in middle school, we played a lot of sports, so my parents were busy with that,” recalls Jordan. Too busy to open the shop themselves most weekends, Jordan’s parents turned to teenagers from Stadium High School to manage the store, until eventually deciding to close it, but only temporarily.
In need of a remodel, they used the closure as an opportunity to gut and redecorate the entire store before asking their then 15-year-old daughter if she would like to take it over. Without much hesitation, Jordan eagerly said yes.
Today, Jordan operates the store and its affiliated Etsy page with the help of her brother. But in 20 years, she says the store hasn’t changed that much. Despite a few cosmetic updates to the storefront, the items offered at Pure Vintage Clothing have always been a handpicked selection of easy to wear, classic styles — which includes the store’s sought after Levi’s rack.
Low price points and timeless vintage styles have made Pure Vintage Clothing a favorite among Stadium High School and University of Puget Sound students and fashion forward adults alike. But if you want to peruse the racks at Pure Vintage Clothing, you’ll want to plan ahead. The store is only open on Saturday. “People have to make a conscious decision to come and find us,” says Jordan, “which is kind of cool. It kind of builds to the mystery.”
And it’s a mystery you definitely want to solve. With a wide selection of men’s and women’s styles, including Pendleton coats and flannels, vintage tees and sweatshirts, stylish leather shoes and even an assortment of classic Seahawks gear, there’s something for everyone. In fact, you may even be tempted to walk out of the store donning your new purchase.
Of course, if you can’t make it in on a Saturday, you can do what many of Jordan’s out-of-state customers do and visit Pure Vintage Clothing’s Etsy page, which features more than 2,000 items ranging from jackets to jeans to belts to ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jordan started the Etsy page after a customer who worked for the Brooklyn-based e-commerce site suggested it to her. Today, Jordan says with such a big inventory, most of her time is dedicated to running her online shop, but her favorite part of the job is still meeting and visiting customers face to face in the store.
“Every week there’s a new person coming in with a story of something they bought here 10 years ago,” she says. “People come back and tell me how special the store has been to them.” And for Jordan, this makes keeping the shop open worth it.
For someone who has breathed and lived vintage her entire life, selling secondhand clothes is more than just how Jordan chooses to make a living. “I’ve always worn used clothes,” she says. “If I can get it used, I prefer it. There’s a lot of great stuff out there, and the quality of the past is way better.”
In addition to loving yesterday’s styles, Jordan is a big supporter of the economical and environmental advantages that secondhand shopping offers. “People say fast fashion is the number two polluter behind oil,” explains Jordan. Luckily, for conscientious shoppers looking to limit their environmental imprint — and save a few bucks at the same time — Pure Vintage Clothing offers an alternative to the mall. “I try to create a place where people will buy things that they’re going to keep for a long time,” says Jordan. “And every week there’s a new person coming in with a story of something they bought here 10 years ago and still love.”
With so many students coming and going, Jordan says Stadium District is a very transitional neighborhood. But over the years, Jordan has gotten to know her community well. “People come back and tell me how special the store has been to them,” she says. And for Jordan, there’s nothing more special than that.