River Otter opens in West Town, joining the growing number of vintage furniture stores in the neighborhood


WEST TOWN – A vintage furniture store with a focus on brighter, post-modern sofas, chairs, desks and more has opened in West Town.

River Otter, 918 N. Ashland Ave., is owned by Andy Alguire, who started buying and reselling furniture on social media a few years ago while working as a video producer.

Alguire’s pieces range from a Bouloum lounge chair and a pair of lips sofa to more traditional chests of drawers, lamps and tables.

“I just try to have unique pieces,” Alguire said. “I just buy things that I like and are fun. Some of them are very rare. Some of them aren’t. I just try to get things that others don’t.

Alguire opened his brick-and-mortar store after two years of a pandemic-driven resurgence in vintage furniture as more people spent time at home and supply chain issues delayed new items.

“COVID hit, and luckily I was already riding, operational. And it’s been like a crazy boom time for furniture…. Everyone was at home, and if you kept your job, you had a little extra money. Everyone needed an office. Wait times for a couch were a year from West Elm or Crate and Barrel or whatever,” Alguire said.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
River Otter owner Andy Alguire relaxes on a Bouloum lounge chair at River Otter, his new brick-and-mortar vintage furniture store.

River Otter is the latest vintage store to set up shop in West Town, near Ashland Avenue.

Place! opened across the street last year, joining Converso, Circa Modern, The Stoop, Dovetail and others nearby.

Alguire said he sees the area as a kind of vintage neighborhood where customers can browse each store back to back, depending on what they’re looking for.

“It’s not competition. It’s more camaraderie,” Alguire said. “It’s like a destination where people can come, and we’re all doing our own thing. We’re all at different price points. We’re all doing our own thing, sort of managing our own vibe. And now people can come shopping in the neighborhood, there are many good shops.

“Me making a sale, it’s not like it’s taking the sale from someone else.”

Alguire said response to the store has been strong in the few weeks it has been open. While demand for vintage furniture has waned a bit from its pandemic peak, he said customers remain interested in durable, one-of-a-kind pieces.

“With COVID, I think there’s a new openness to buying well-made vintage stuff,” Alguire said. “What I always tell people is that if you’re well educated about the things you buy, you can buy something, have it, love it for as long as you want, and sell it for whatever price you want. you paid. …These things retain their value.

River Otter is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and by appointment.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
River Otter, 918 N. Ashland Ave., West Town
Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago

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