Sitting on the porch of their shared Sixth Street building Saturday, Jacob Ooley and Andrea Engelsberg managed to catch a quick smoking break to discuss the previous night’s festivities. First Fridays sent a buzz throughout the arts district, bringing the area to life from a sleepy summer.
For both Ooley and Engelsberg, being downtown — particularly in their quaint and charismatic neighborhood — brings a sense of community. Their two affordable vintage stores, Cellar Door Vintage and Annie Boomer Vintage, occupy the same charming bungalow renovated for retail space. Along with their neighbors, GROWop and The Roose Parlour and Spa, Sixth Street has a laid-back and friendly vibe, without competition.
That’s what drew both to the neighborhood within the last year.
“We chose downtown Phoenix because of its diversity and how people are doing their own thing,” Ooley said. “We started with a booth at the A.R.T.S. Market, and Kenny from next door told us about this place and recommended that we move in.”
It felt like a perfect fit for Ooley and his wife, Eyndia, who moved from Indiana.
“In the arts district, and specifically this street, no one’s pompous. There’s a really awesome community vibe down here,” he said. “It’s weird because when we first moved in, we thought it would be territorial, but it’s been a phenomenal experience.”
Ooley’s store, Cellar Door Vintage, opened nearly seven months ago and has since found a niche in housing an array of eclectic and cool items to choose from. T-shirts of ’80s bands, leather jackets and neat printed garments hang throughout the store, along with conversation-starting knickknacks and trinkets.
The atmosphere is familiar and inviting, akin to dropping by a friend’s house.
“We didn’t want it to feel like people were entering a store and that they couldn’t touch or look at things,” he said. “The whole idea of opening a store started because me and my wife wanted to share nostalgia from our childhood.”
As for the clothes, Ooley leaves it up to the customer to find pieces from the mix of styles available at his store.
“We don’t shop for things that we would wear but what other people would want,” Ooley said. “The whole idea of the store is to give creative people a place to shop. We’re not going to tell people what they should buy, because they can dress themselves.”
In the adjacent space, Engelsberg’s store, Annie Boomer Vintage, is adorned with feminine flair. Frilly sherbet-colored dresses mixed with furs, feathers and glittering jewelry occupy the main room.
Engelsberg has had two previous locations downtown along with an online store specializing in vintage apparel.
With a background in fashion, she began selling vintage garments on eBay as a hobby. After it became lucrative and she started accumulating more pieces, Engelsberg decided to show her vision in a brick-and-mortar store.
“The store is super girly. I sort of like outrageous statement pieces. I do a lot of dresses; I love sparkles and glamour,” Engelsberg said. “I just love the amazing work that went into making amazing pieces from the ’60s.”
That mid-20th-century appeal is carried throughout her store, particularly in her cute, boudoir-like dressing room housing lace lingerie.
When attending estate sales or browsing thrift stores for potential finds, Engelsberg looks for eye-catching textures, patterns and fabrics.
“I’m constantly on the hunt for clothes,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve always loved vintage and I enjoy looking for more.”
Engelsberg noted that downtown has an independent, youth-driven style.
“You see everything here. You’ll see a willingness to take risks in downtown you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the Valley,” she said.
“It’s just the most vibrant, walkable area in downtown Phoenix,” she said of her location. “The support throughout the neighborhood has been great. It’s a good fit for vintage.”
By working together in sync, Engelsberg, Ooley and their neighbors have created a one-stop destination for all things related to vintage culture.
A neighborhood sidewalk sale will be held Saturday, Sept. 14, from noon to 7 p.m.