Swap Meet Royalty: A Look At San Diego’s Own Vintage Clothing Dealer

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On a cold October morning in 2020, I found my nose deep in piles of vintage clothing at Kobey’s Swap Meet. As I walked around with my coffee in hand and a curious nature, I turned to a salesman who was displaying a vintage Britney Spears t-shirt. As I continued to look around, I found myself grabbing slip-on dresses, mini skirts, and a sheer black Halloween-worthy dress, which I haven’t worn yet. As I grabbed a beautiful black mesh dress with red accents and floral details, I decided it was time to get some self-control so I walked over to the seller to pay. Finishing a little chat with the seller, I picked up my items and said a final thank you. As I finally walked away, I realized I hadn’t caught the name of his store. Turning my head back, I saw the name of his shop on a small notice board: Revival Era Vintage.

I had no idea that my shopping addiction would take over me and become a frequent attendee of Kobey’s Swap Meet. Always meeting up at the Revival Era Vintage booth, I struck up a conversation with the saleswoman and eventually became fascinated by her involvement in the world of vintage clothing, resale, and the city’s sustainable fashion community.

With fashion at your fingertips, meet Heidi Cantrell, the designer of Revival Era and San Diego’s own vintage clothing retailer. Drawing inspiration from old movies, TV shows and eccentric musicians, Cantrell was influenced by the style of the 20th century.

“I would say my style comes from the looks of the 90s and 70s with a western touch, influenced by my hometown. Combining eras is a lot of fun and creates such a unique look. Some of my style inspiration comes from my favorite ’90s shows like “Dawson’s Creek”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “90210”, “It’s the 70s Show”, “Charmed” and “Dazed and Confused “. One of my favorite artists who I think has the best looks from the 70s and 90s is Mazzy Star. A lot of my other inspiration comes from other vintage sellers in San Diego that focus on different eras, like pieces from the 40s and 50s. “

Hailing from a small town in California, she didn’t start exploring her sense of style until she entered college. Feeling lost in academia – like all college students – she decided to follow the path that she felt was true to herself.

“I was a full-time student working two restaurant jobs and changing major every two semesters. I was lost and unsatisfied with the direction of my life. Soon after, I quit my job and came across a real estate sale by my house. I stopped trying so hard to find something to do with my life and did what came naturally to me.

With her adventurous nature and her desire to start investing time in the world of vintage clothing, she began to explore the world of resale and what it had to offer her.

“Shortly after quitting my day jobs, I ran into a real estate sale by my house. I have always felt relaxed when saving and found so much joy in conservation. I spent all my money in an old lady’s closet and spent a few months registering on Depop to pay the rent and the bills. After taking off from my Depop, I started to broaden my style by modeling outfits for my shop. Back then, Y2k was emerging as a term within the vintage community and a lot of people dismissed the fact that it should even be a thing. With consistency and motivation anyone can start a store – quitting your daily job helps too! The fast-paced fashion industry pushes a style agenda on the masses and I have fallen into their trap for years. They also use unethical labor-intensive practices and cheap fabrics made from chemicals, meant to decompose quickly. Vintage clothing lasts forever, lets you choose your style, promotes sustainability, and small business – what could be better than that ?!

Striving to grow his small business, Cantrell began to expand his networking beyond small pop-up events and into store clothing racks.

Cantrell said, “I started selling at the exchange meeting about a year ago, thanks to other sellers pushing me to go offline. It has helped me build more followers, connect with like-minded people, broaden my style, and connect in the community. Selling in person is the best way forward as a vintage seller. Now I mainly do smaller markets, Instagram sales and in-store sales at Day to Day Vintage in North Park. My favorite part of storing racks in stores is seeing how people react to selections in an upscale setting. Working for yourself can be overwhelming, but you get to choose how everything is done. You decide how to get clothes, what platform to sell, and be part of the best community out there. I have noticed that you can’t think too much about what you are selling, if you choose cool things other people will notice. Being authentic in your style will always transcend your customers and your brand. If you are committed to your brand and have confidence in your ideas, no one will ever think otherwise. Don’t be afraid to take risks, stick with your style, and meet as many people as possible when you start your store.

With her bold personality and quirky nature, Cantrell has grown her fashion community in San Diego to something she never imagined possible. Being in a community where resale is fairly male dominated, she has created a safe space for herself and her small business to thrive as a woman.

“I accepted late in my college career that I would do this 100% after I graduated,” Cantrell said. “It’s unpredictable and exciting while still leaving me a social or independent work space, depending on my mood. There are many different avenues and boredom is never an option.

Photo courtesy of Luis Montejo


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