A new shop in Old Town Fairfax hopes to spark fresh joy with its shelves of vintage wares.
With its eclectic, handmade items, the vintage shop is appropriately located down a small alleyway tucked behind the Vietnamese restaurant East Wind, offering the impression of a hidden gem.
Though narrow, the hallways of the store managed to fit local residents, Old Town Fairfax Business Association members, Fairfax City Economic Development Authority officials and Fairfax City Mayor Catherine Read.
“This kind of business is the kind of business that Old Town Fairfax has been missing,” Read said.
Lucy Loves is an outgrowth of the Fairfax Funky Flea, an outdoor flea market that operates on the last Saturday of every month from April to November. Owner Sharon Buttram says she and longtime friend Kathy Hackshaw decided to launch the now-popular flea market in 2021 after bonding over a mutual love of hunting for vintage odds and ends at thrift shops and estate sales.
“I love mixing old stuff and new stuff, and I like making it current,” Buttram said. “…I don’t want my house to be a museum of old stuff. I like to mix it up and be really eclectic in my approach. So we just thought we should do a flea market. We love going to flea markets.”
Lucy Loves currently sells a mix of items like clothing, jewelry and pottery from 16 commissioned local vendors, many of whom Buttram recruited from Fairfax Funky Flea. But in the future, Buttram hopes to also use the cozy space for community gatherings.
“I’d also like this to become a cornerstone of the community as well as an event space,” Buttram said. “Like, if you want to have a conversation about something, let’s have conversation nights. I think after a couple of years of isolation with Covid, we were starved for person-to-person [interaction]. We want to touch things…Everything you see here, you can find online, but it’s a different experience when you go, and you can touch it, and you’re supporting somebody small.”
Read sees Lucy Loves as “exactly the kind of business that people want in a historic downtown.”
“They want some place where they can go to lunch or go to dinner and wander around and pop their head into shops and spend 30 minutes looking at everything in the shop,” she said.
According to Read, Fairfax City has been working to attract more businesses and shoppers so it can better compete with major shopping centers like Fairfax Corner, Mosaic District and Tysons Corner Center.
“I think Lucy Loves is the beginning of seeing more of this kind of retail want to come to our downtown,” Read said. “This is a very promising turn of events for the City of Fairfax because we want to attract visitors. But we also want our residents to stay here. We want our residents to dine here, shop here, attend our events here and to support businesses just like this one.”
In the future, Buttram envisions collaborating with George Mason University students to further engage them in the creative process.
“I’m really excited about a bigger partnership with GMU, and I’ve talked to them about doing workshops for students in their makerspace,” Buttram said. “But I’m also talking to them about even [giving] makers on campus that want to sell things [an opportunity to sell here].”
But for now, Buttram is proud of what she’s accomplished, finally cutting a ribbon on a shop named after her grandmother — “an original thrifty soul” who loved everything, she says.
“I’m really proud of the shop and the turnout today and of all my friends and family in the city,” Buttram said. “I love doing it here in the city. I’ve lived here for 30 years, and it’s just my absolute favorite place here in Virginia. So to have this here is the culmination of all the things I’ve wanted and then to have all my friends come out and support me, it’s been really meaningful to me.”
“This is a small shop, and I fully expect that one of these days, they will outgrow this space,” Read said. “But for now, having a space that’s over full of things is a good thing.”
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