PASADENA – Craig London once sold a dining set to grunge rock legend Kurt Cobain. His brother Mitch, sold memorabilia to Muhammad Ali, back when their Pink Plum Antiques shop was located on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.
But even when he flashes back to the Hollywood days, London and his brother know the decision to move their shop to Pasadena 11 years ago was the right move.
“This has been a great location. We love the city and our neighbors,” he said. “We moved here because my wife wanted to have kids. Hollywood isn’t the best place to raise your kids.”
In Pasadena, the store was able to expand from a small one specializing in selling mid-century furniture, to a larger, diverse vintage shop with a loyal customer base.
“When people see the word antique, they tend to get scared off because they think it is old expensive stuff,” London added. “About 1 percent of the store is now antiques. It has really turned into a catch all vintage store.”
From it’s location at 2580 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pink Plum sells everything from vintage hats and clothing to turquoise jewelry and furniture, artwork and other collectibles.
“It is kind of hard to describe our store,” London noted. “You come in here for the first time and you’re like `oh my good, cool, fun, funky stuff.”‘
The store’s more popular sections include a Mexicana section, a Hawaiian section. There is also a concrete garden area. Clothing and vintage jewelry are among their best sellers.
“We’ve been getting a lot younger crowds, because of the economy and because TV shows like `Mad Men’ have made vintage furniture and other items very popular” London said. “We also sell to a lot of dealers in town because of our good prices.”
London said that the economy has been good to help stave off competition from super stores like Ikea, which have begun to remake some of the vintage looks people seek.
“If you go to Ikea and see a knockoff of a mid-century chair and it’s like 400 bucks and you come in here and find the original here for less than $25, you are going to prefer the original,” he added.
Most of the items are bought from estate sales, according to London. When someone’s estate goes on sale, he and his brother are usually invited to go to the auction, where they look for hip vintage items they can quickly sell.
“We are the original `American Pickers,”‘ he joked, referencing the History Channel reality show that follows people who scour the country’s junkyards, barns and basements for “hidden gems.”
The London brothers, originally from Eagle Rock, have been selling vintage for more than 30 years. This experience is what sets them apart from those pickers you see on TV, London noted.
“Most pickers are looking for a zillion dollar item that they can get very cheap. We are just looking for very cool, unique stuff we can sell right away,” he said.
The recent portrayal of vintage America and the pickers, reminds London of the 18 years Pink and Plum spent in Hollywood at “a hole-in-the-wall” location next to Raleigh Studios.
“We had a lot of celebrities come to the store then. You miss some of that fun,” he said. “That was our little brush with the elite.”
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