On the edge of Boston beside the Charles River, new music venue Roadrunner hosted Brighton Bazaar’s first ever Retromania expo on Feb. 18 and 19. With a large turnout, this event was a complete hit. A weekend-long experience, family and friends were transported back decades to explore vintage paraphernalia — fashion, comics, vinyls, jewelry, ephemera, and a variety of other collectibles.
Upon first walking into the venue, one may have felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of vendors present; over 100 shops filled up the space. Over the speaker system, vinyl classics at least 50 years old and spanning all genres instantly filled visitors’ ears. The melodies of old-school musical pioneers like The Joe Cuba Sextet, Junior Walker, and The Gay Poppers quickly acclimated shoppers to the time period which many of these goods belong to.
Among the chaos, there were vibrant vendors waiting for customers to scour their booth. At the entrance there was a collection of vinyls, books, apparel, and accessories. Samantha Gottlich — the creator behind No Rhyme or Reason Art — greeted customers on their way to the first floor of the venue.
“I make all my goodies,” she said. “The earrings are made with a mix of vintage toys and cake toppers and trinkets. The tote bags are made with vintage bedding. Everything is old stuff made into new stuff that you can wear.”
Gottlich is not the only one changing the fashion industry with her upcycled work. Vendor Annie Gauger, owner of Annie Wear, has been making hats out of recycled material for nearly three decades.
“I always do it when I am out of money,” she says.
But her hats are not the only recycled materials at her booth.
“I got all of the skis from the dump from the town I am in,” Gauger says. “I found [my stand] on a street corner [...] and whacked it all together.”
Customers not searching for clothes or handmade accessories could also find trinkets to take home. For instance, Alley Tripp Art, a shop aptly named after the owner, sold tufted creations. During the event, Tripp was making a rug from scratch for people to admire.
If Brighton Bazaar’s Retromania proved anything, it’s that the community answers when thrifting calls. Everyone who arrived at the event was excited to be a part of it. With trinkets and clothing ranging $15 to more than $300, everyone who arrived was sure to find something that piqued their interests — or drained their wallets.
Members of the Bousey family coincidentally ran into each other by chance while shopping at the event.
“We didn’t know that we were both going,” Christian Bousey said. “My wife who is down on the floor, her first job was at a vintage store. She has been really into [thrifting] her entire life. So we do this a lot.”
Christian’s brother Max and Suzanne Bousey on the other hand were thrifting for their teenage kids.
“I bought some clothes for my son,” Suzanne says. “We are going to buy some artwork for our daughter. And I’m going to buy a bracelet.” Max began shaking his head and laughing. “I found the most expensive booth,” Suzanne added.
Similarly to Christian’s wife, it became hard to make a decision on what not to buy once shoppers started perusing the booths. Brianna Rockwell, a fellow thrifter, summarized this feeling neatly.
“I am here with a couple of friends who are out buying some other stuff,” she said. “We love to thrift and buy cool things and we saw that [Retromania] was happening… So here we are!”
With a smile on her face and dressed in bright pink, Rockwell matched the vivacious booth that she was looking at. Arriving at the event, she was not expecting to buy anything.
“I have now purchased four or five things and I am about to purchase some of these prints. I just haven’t decided which ones yet,” Rockwell said.
The second floor mezzanine had a different assortment of vendors: local food caterers and restaurants. Featuring smaller, special order bakeries such as Hetty Sweets Bakery and Donna’s Cakes or established restaurants like SamosaMan, attendees — including those with dietary restrictions — were guaranteed to find something that would satiate their appetite. If event-goers were not hungry in the moment, vendors such as Bee Well Box offered a selection of honey-related take home goods sure to elevate someone’s pantry. With seating from these restaurant spaces situated on a balcony, people were able to rest comfortably while overlooking the event. Whether resting, eating, or buying clothes, everyone was always able to take part in the communal atmosphere present at Roadrunner’s Retromania.
If one is looking for the perfect piece to add to their wardrobe or has a passion for collectibles from the past, be on the lookout for this event and more like it in the coming year. Brighton Bazaar hosts monthly events and expos much like this one. Based not only on the efficiency of this event but also the turnout it attracted, it’s certain the event organizers know exactly what they are doing when it comes to enabling talented entrepreneurs, artists, and creatives to make a name for themselves.
Samantha Gottlich said it best:
“I am so lucky to be [here]. I just love retro stuff. It’s a great community.”
—Staff writer J.J. Moore can be reached at email@example.com. Staff writer Xander D. Patton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.