Since 2000, Tammy Ziegler and her business partner, Stephen Connacher, have relocated their Hamilton vintage shop twice. The first move was a few shops down from their original location on King Street, but their most recent decision was a big jump to 308 Ottawa Street North.
In an effort to avoid dug-up roads, traffic congestion and the uprooting of trees that will accompany the city’s looming Light Rail Transit project, Ziegler and Connacher decided to move out their vintage collection before it bites the construction dust.
“We were in a really old section so they’re going to be digging all that up and underneath the road are going to be really, really old sewer pipes so you know they’re going to be in our section for a long time digging and it will be awful,” explained Ziegler.
Always in tune to their customers’ needs, the Out of the Past duo asked shoppers back in January whether the move would be the best next step. The responses were supportive even though this meant the shop would be further away from the downtown core.
The Ottawa Street opening at the end of February was met with excitement, especially from locals who were excited to see a vintage store open in the area. While the name is yet to be painted, the characteristic cat emblem in the storefront window has been inviting regulars and new shoppers in.
The Ottawa Street North community is known for its extensive collection of fabric stores, but the street is also home to record stores, bakeries and new restaurants. Out of the Past may be the newest addition, but it’s an already established and recognizable brand in the city.
For some people, the move made little impact as they rely on the vintage store’s online presence on Instagram to find pieces and place them on hold. Out of the Past picks their favourite and most unique finds to share on the daily, creating a more convenient model for shoppers that are unable to regularly visit the store.
Connacher first started the Out of the Past Instagram account back in 2013 by posting pictures of customers in their vintage clothes, but it soon evolved into a successful online marketplace. Not everything placed on hold will be sold, but it brought out more new people to their store.
Today, Ziegler recognizes her regular customers and long-time friends of the store, mostly by their unique attire and the friendly experiences she’s had running the vintage shop over the years.
The shop has been open for nearly two decades, but both Ziegler and Connacher’s love for vintage and antiques began way before the beginning of Out of the Past.
Connacher, who grew up in Hamilton, had his own vintage shop in the 1980s in St. Catharines. He and Ziegler met at a church sale and they started selling antiques together at the Saint Lawrence Market in Toronto before opening the first Out of the Past store in St. Catharines in 1993.
“I didn’t have a job when I was a teenager because my parents had an antique store. I actually got them started because after I would [sell] at flea markets I would say ‘c’mon let’s get a table’ and I nagged and nagged,” explained Ziegler.
Eventually Ziegler’s parents became interested in starting a store on their own, and when Ziegler got her driver’s licence, she would spend her Saturday mornings driving her mother around yard sales.
Ziegler decided to go to Brock University for a Bachelor in Administration and she became a certified management accountant for a while before deciding her heart was into starting her own vintage shop.
“I’ve always been into it. I love digging for junk, like a treasure hunt, right? It’s fun and why not have fun doing what you like,” said Ziegler.
Ziegler hunts for her treasure and primo pieces at other thrift stores, yard and church sales, but now Out of the Past mostly relies on vintage wholesalers. Thousands of pounds of clothing are sorted through at a facility, and every week or two Ziegler picks up hard to find pieces to add to the Out of the Past collection.
Even when travelling, hunting for vintage is on Ziegler’s mind. She’s sourced pieces from Montreal to Halifax and Los Angeles. For Ziegler, hunting for vintage is addictive. She enjoys shopping for items for other people.
“Part of the fun is the reward that you get from finding people who are interested in the products that you’ve sources. And trying to find interesting things that’ll excite them,” explained Ziegler.
Ziegler’s goal is to find the perfect unique items that will make her customers rummage through racks of vintage clothing in awe. No matter where Out of the Past is, the store will continue to be on the forefront of the vintage community.