Everything Old Is New Again'I think there are stories connected in everything, and I like to be the conduit of those stories.'
When Holly Rhode was a teenager, her mother wanted a particular coat. Rhode noted this. She saved her money, and when the next gift-giving occasion came along, she gave the coat to her.
"She was so thrilled that I had remembered," Rhode says.
That event was the one that tipped her from being someone who just liked to wear vintage clothing in her formative years to someone who would eventually buy and sell pre-loved finds for a living.
"I think there are stories connected in everything, and I like to be the conduit of those stories," she says. "I like to be the person who gets the thing into the next person's hands."
Being someone who likes "things that people want to collect and save," Rhode loves the stories she learns in Chicago and its environs. She wanders everywhere — from Logan Square, where she lives, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she can get a mini-vacation with an old friend.
In her neighborhood, the tales are plentiful. These are stories of old and new, of gentrification and change, and they illustrate a locale that is constantly evolving. One of her favorite neighborhood eateries is Lula Cafe. When Lula opened, it was a lone outpost of fresh food in an area devoid of innovative cuisine. Now Logan Square is dotted with English-style pubs and classy cocktail and wine bars, Rhode says. "It is really confounding that we do not have to leave the neighborhood to get these things."
Another close-to-home inspiration for Rhode's continual quest for objects with meaning is Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. This museum focuses on the work of self-taught (meaning not professionally trained) artists.
"I like it there because you get to see things you don't otherwise get to see," Rhode says.
Among other things, Intuit has an exhibit replicating the workplace of legendary Chicago outsider artist Henry Darger.
"It is astonishing. This table with all his ephemera — paints and magazines and brushes," Rhode says. She took her childhood friend, Amy O'Neill, to Intuit, and enjoyed listening to O'Neill — who is an artist herself — tell stories about creating works of art and drawing parallels between her own studio and Darger's.
Rhode recently founded Lucitebox, an online vintage retailer that focuses on clothing from the 1940s through the 1970s, what she calls "classic vintage for the modern ingénue." She finds her inventory all over Chicago and beyond.
Rhode started Lucitebox after working what she calls "a series of dumb temp jobs." When she decided to hang her own shingle, she says she started "collecting things in a different way. I was not buying things for myself anymore."
Her recent breakaway trip with O'Neill to Milwaukee was filled with fun memories and lots of good food (can't skip the cheese curds), but she resisted the urge to look for vintage goods. Instead, she took in the city's history, the murals painted on the sides of buildings, and the new developments that have honored the city's past.
She did see lots of new second-hand boutiques on the city streets, however, and is planning a return trip to Milwaukee soon as an excuse to head north to pick for vintage finds.
Check out Holly's Chicago.