You might not have seen this shop walking down the block, but the Elmwood Village is its home. The Old Bag Online is an Etsy shop based right here on Elmwood, specializing in vintage bags, purses, shoes, and more. Elmwood Village, say hello to the owner of The Old Bag Online, Mary Finn.
Elmwood Village Association (EVA): Tell us a little bit about how and when you started your business and how it has grown. What drew you to the market of vintage clothing and accessories?
Mary Finn (MF): I have had a lifelong obsession with style and a passion for unique and well-made bags, shoes, and clothing. Construction and materials are something I carefully examine and are of utmost importance to me. I have been thrifting since I was a little girl and my mother taught me much about quality as we shopped together. I have been involved with this for about 50 years and have learned much in the process.
About 5 years ago I decided it was time to get back to what I love. The nice thing about good vintage items is that the fashions may have changed over the years, but good style is always in fashion.
EVA: Tell us a little more about your inventory. Where does it come from? What are your selection criteria?
MF: I shop at estate sales and thrift stores, but more importantly I have established a network of out of town sources in New York, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. These additional markets bring items unique to the area and help me to keep my items unusual. I also have a European connection for my EuroTrashItaly shop, also on Etsy which features all Italian items.
I try to keep items to a 20 year or older range, but will consider mixing in something a little newer if it meets my criteria for well-made construction, unique design, and fine materials.
EVA: In what way has the Elmwood Village neighborhood influenced your business? What’s your favorite thing about the neighborhood?
MF: I have lived in and around the Elmwood Village for over 40 years. I would say that my tastes have evolved with those of the businesses in the area since this is where I have shopped all these years.
I love the fact that I have always been able to walk to get whatever I need. The Elmwood village is my small town in a big city.
EVA: What’s something about your business that Elmwood should know?
MF: We have local pick up and a selection of items for everyone!
Buying vintage is a form of recycling. We are such a consumer society. It always amazes me what can be found out there that was barely or never used.
EVA: Online shopping seems to become increasingly popular. What’s your experience? What do you find to be the benefits (or drawbacks) of an online store compared to an actual store, let’s say, on Elmwood?
MF: Although nothing compares to touch and feel, a well presented online store can be a very relaxing shopping experience. Etsy is a great venue. There is so much available and of such good quality. It also allows me entrance into a global market which a brick and mortar venue can not easily do.
EVA: Can you give us a sneak peek at any plans you have for the future?
MF: I have been working on ideas for some type of brick and mortar retail location in the near future which would be in or near the Elmwood Village. I would love to have some foot traffic and window shoppers.
I also am looking into having some quarterly events, participating in some local events, and perhaps pop-up locations.
Check out the Old Bag Online at Etsy!