Hands up, who loves a bit of a shop while on holidays? Some of our most treasured purchases have been from a small, boutique out of town. These great finds are the genesis of our ‘Your Local’ series featuring the fashion haunts that people drive out of their way for…or sometimes fly for! Along with providing a bit of vicarious retail therapy we also hope to celebrate the small guys and encourage the support of local businesses. Please do share your secret hot spot with us for future posts! But first, we head to one of our favourites in Maitland, New South Wales…
We chat with Vintage Iris – owner, Rachel Bischoff
Can you explain the name?
I knew I wanted to name it after my grandmother, Iris and a friend suggested the ‘Vintage Iris’ as about ten years ago everything vintage was very popular. So the “vintage” is just the name of the store, nothing to do with what we sell.
How did the business come about?
I was a cake decorator for many decades and I was always a shopper. I had a cake shop in Lithgow and started selling jewellery and shoes on the side and it grew from there. When we moved back home to Maitland, I opened up here as Vintage Iris.
What can you find in Vintage Iris?
Everything is gift-based- I even consider the clothing to be potential gifts. There is no demographic here, everything is a broad range for all ages but everything that comes through the door, I have to love it. I can’t question it, it must be love first. It’s not about what is going to walk out the door the quickest, it’s about what I love.
Who is the customer you think of when buying for the store?
Sometimes I look at things and think of someone specific who would love it. If it’s caught my eye first, I take a photo and send it to that person and they will say “must-have, get it”! It is usually family members but first and foremost I have to love it.
How regularly do you get new stock?
Weekly. We have great price points, dresses from $59- they move fast! From October onwards, it’s almost daily new stock.
Where is your customer from?
Local is my bread and butter. We do have Newcastle girls and Sydney girls come in though, and I will also ship non-breakable items from my website.
Do you get inspiration from anywhere else?
It’s all mostly from nan. Going to Newcastle to see nan, she would have a little trinket or something special and I would always ask, “nan, where do you find this stuff?” and it all stemmed from her collecting unique things- and on a daily basis, someone will tell me my store is full of unique items. I’m not a brand chaser, you can get those anywhere. I like to concentrate on brands that only sell to boutiques where possible. And comfort is important! Australian designed and ethically sourced is important to me as a buyer. We’ve made phone calls to some of our suppliers and were satisfied with what we told. They were very transparent in explaining the work conditions and their national standards.
Do you have a regular sale period that people could make the trip for?
Not a set period but we do have a VIP list who we notify first for specials- anyone can sign up for it. Its roughly change of seasons but generally, we let the VIP’s know and they head in.
Our favourite item from Vintage Iris? This Danish silk scarf pictured below. The triangular design makes it really easy to style and we love the shorter length tassels on the trim as they’re less likely to tangle.
You can find this lovingly curated store at:
Shop 1 /128 Lawes St (80.33 mi)
East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia 2323
Read more YOUR LOCAL features here.