It was Oct. 6, 2017 when Barb Harrison opened the doors of Minerva Vintage at 472 Queen St. E., only five days after she retired from 40 years of work as a local steel plant employee.
Sault ladies, if any of you want a change from buying mass-produced clothing off the rack, and want to show off some high quality, in-perfect-condition vintage clothing made of strong, good old-fashioned material, Minerva Vintage is for you (though there is some men’s clothing available at the shop too).
“It’s a little bit of everything. There’s also dishes, accessories, jewellery, everything except vintage furniture because I don’t have the room for furniture (though there are some fine, old world wooden display cases in the store),” Barb told SooToday, Minerva Vintage being the subject of this week’s SooToday Midweek Mugging.
One of the more eye-catching items for sale on the shelves is a 12-inch tall go-go girl drink mixer dating from the 1960s.
But, let’s get back to the clothing.
“My mother always shopped at church sales and garage sales and my grandmother sewed, she did alterations, so I grew up vintage because I could get high quality clothing for next to nothing prices,” Barb said.
During her time at the steel plant, Barb opened a vintage clothing store in the Sault in 1999, but told us “the city was just not ready for it at that time.”
“I had kept a lot of my stock from the previous store I had because it’s hard to find good vintage clothing...it’s getting harder and harder to find.”
With Minerva Vintage’s opening, Barb said she’s living her dream.
“I could have worked for another few years (at the steel plant) but I thought if I’m going to open a store, I’m going to do it now.”
Barb said many of her customers are from the younger set.
“I think more of the next generation wants quality things again...to find good women’s clothing, it’s hard, and vintage gives you an alternative. Everything in this store is one of a kind, a lot of it is 100 per cent wool, 100 per cent cotton, instead of modern polyester and spandex blends.”
“Some of the items now are partly made of ‘unknown fibre.’ What’s an ‘unknown fibre?’” Barb said incredulously.
The majority of the women’s clothing items at Minerva Vintage are from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Barb said, though some of her older items date from the 1930s, a small handful of others as recent as the 1980s.
Why the name ‘Minerva?’
Minerva, Barb explained, was the name of a warrior woman in Greek mythology who was equipped with wisdom and ready for battle.
“I picked her name out of a book and I figured if I was going to open a small business I could use wisdom and be ready for a struggle,” Barb chuckled.
“The business is doing very well. I’m very happy with it this time around.”