Tanya Schuttenberg is the “Thrift Queen.” She sells cast-off clothing from yard sales and the bottoms of bargain barrels to costume-hunting co-eds and vintage aficionados alike at her aptly named Nord Avenue store. Schuttenberg’s favorite part of the job is helping people find clothes they treasure at a low cost. Pausing occasionally to assist customers looking for specific curios, Schuttenberg (whose husband is distribution manager at the CN&R) spoke of her vintage obsession.
When did you get interested in vintage?
I’ve always loved vintage stuff, and I always loved going to yard sales, rummage sales and estate sales. It’s just such good quality. It’s amazing that stuff from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s is still popular. I don’t know if it was the era: It was a fun time, but at the same time it was a time of turmoil. They were coming out with all kinds of crazy wild things, colors and styles. Now the designers are going back and taking things from the past. It’s so exciting that you can still find those things because every year it gets harder and harder to find vintage clothing items and accessories. They get more and more rare.
Who are your favorite customers?
I love all the college kids because they have such great energy. They’re so positive. They just want to have fun. The guys don’t want to shop everywhere in town for a ‘70s outfit and to find a wig or glasses to go with it. It’s so cute because they get excited about dressing up. We girls can dress up any day of the year, but they get excited about putting on a wig and a crazy outfit because it’s so different. They’re getting out of their comfort zone of what they usually wear. I try to be people’s personal shopper if they don’t have a friend or a girlfriend along.
What are some of the wackier theme parties you hear about?
There are so many different ones: ‘70s, ‘80s, cowboy and schoolgirl. They come up with the different names like “pimps ‘n’ hos.” Every so often I hear new ones, like comic book characters or cartoon characters of all different eras. Some people use their imaginations: things that start with a “P” or an “S.”
Do you ever have your own theme parties?
No, I just live vicariously through everyone else during the school year.