Vintage Frills brings colorful retro clothes and housewares to Avondale


AVONDALE – Jen Kelly has spent 20 years working in retail, always with the dream of opening her own boutique.

After being fired from Uber last year, she decided it was time to take the plunge to start a business around her obsession with vintage clothing. His shop, Vintage Fantasy at 2846 N. Milwaukee Ave., open Friday.

“It was always in my head, in a very small corner. I really didn’t think it was possible. I was like, ‘I’m just going to do this. It’s good. I will benefit from my advantages and reductions. I’m around nice clothes, ”she said of her retail jobs. “But after COVID, that’s when I had the time to understand that this is really what I want to do.”

Vintage Frills is full of clothes Kelly finds at estate sales – from ’70s dresses to’ 90s sweatshirts – as well as quirky kitchen and other household items. It is also supplied with Vintage royalty jewelry, vintage clothing Choice Edition and retro furniture.

Credit: Mina Bloom / Block Club Chicago
Inside Vintage Frills, 2846 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Kelly said that since working in retail she has been drawn to vintage clothing and accessories.

“I love the fact that… not only does each piece have its own story, but it’s really quality merchandise,” she said. “Much of it is made in the [United States]. It stands the test of time. [With] fast fashion is all about these other countries and it doesn’t last at all.

When it comes to vintage clothing, Kelly said she isn’t looking for specific shapes and sizes, but rather pieces that match the vibe of a certain era. She chooses each item for the store.

“I love finding 70s stuff because it really speaks to millennials, 90s stuff because it speaks to Gen Z,” she said.

Most clothes and household items are arranged in color-coded alcoves, like the blue bedroom and the red bedroom. Kelly said she learned the technique while working for fast fashion giant Old Navy.

“When people come in they are really intrigued by this aspect. Each room has its own vibe, ”she said.

Vintage Frills sits on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue that has struggled to attract retail and development, but is starting to rebound.

The Kay Shoes building located at 2839 N. Milwaukee Ave. is being redeveloped into apartments and shops on the ground floor. The Bric a Brac record store moves to 2843 N. Milwaukee Ave., and the owners open an adjoining café. A developer has received approval to rehabilitate a vacant six-unit building located at 2901 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Credit: Mina Bloom / Block Club Chicago
Some of the housewares from Vintage Frills, 2846 N. Milwaukee Ave.

While Kelly is thrilled to have landed in a growing pocket of Avondale, she said that was never the plan.

South Sider has always wanted to turn a pink school bus into a vintage mobile shop. She was also considering opening a boutique in Hyde Park, just 10 minutes from her home, but the rents were “astronomical,” she said.

She shifted gears when she ran into the Avondale storefront while driving through town with her sister one day last year, she said.

It helped that the store already had the partitions she was looking for.

“My plan was to have tiny pieces for each color story. This store literally had four lockers. I was like, ‘Oh my God, where did that come from?’ “, did she say.

Vintage Frills is open daily from noon to 5 p.m., except Tuesday. Kelly also recently launched a mobile store, called The vintage fleet, who will visit the city districts.

Kelly said she and her family are moving to the North Side as she settles into the life of Avondale store owner.

“It’s really, really cute, and I really like it,” she said of the neighborhood.

Credit: Mina Bloom / Block Club Chicago
Jen Kelly, owner of Vintage Frills, 2846 N. Milwaukee Ave.

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