How Sarah Prieres Turned A Flea Market Store Into A Business
“Looking back, I’m really glad we pulled the trigger when we did.”
Sarah Prieres and Damien Genuardi grew up almost two thousand miles away from each other — Prieres in Miami, Genuardi in Philadelphia — but before they even met, they were living parallel lives.
“We were both into our local indie music scenes and spent most of our youth going to hardcore and indie shows,” says Prieres. “I started DJing at local indie nights in Miami during that whole boom of the early 2000s and Damien was doing the same in Boston where he went to art school.” The two started dating in 2006, and recently opened a boutique — the aptly named True Love Always — in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
The bright, airy space is tucked away on a quiet street. “We sell a curated mix of home goods and accessories, gifts, ceramics, new and used vinyl records and vintage clothing,” says Prieres. “Really a selection of everything we love!”
The vintage goods at TLA are handpicked by Prieres and Genuardi based not just on their real affinity for vintage, but years of experience, as well. “We sold vintage clothing at the Brooklyn Flea for ten years before opening our store,” Prieres says, referring to the largest (and coolest!) flea market in the borough, and explaining that the experienced helped the pair hone in on what’s trending: “You really start to get a sense of what is starting to trend on a very street level as well as sell to designers and bigger companies looking for inspiration.”
Prieres’ own style is an enviable blend of old and new. “I always like to mix in my vintage pieces with newer pieces, like some vintage Levi’s with a new blouse from a company like Shop Dôen,” she explains, adding that “Wearing vintage clothing isn’t always about a retro look — nine times out of ten, whatever look is hip on the runway at the moment can be found in a vintage semblance.”
So how did Prieres perfect the art of mixing retro with what’s trending? “Growing up in the 90s and being into alternative music, thrifting was part necessity and partly what was popular at the time,” she muses. “My friends and I were trying to emulate people like Kim Gordon, Debbie Harry, The Beastie Boys, and Elastica (to name a few) who all were incorporating vintage clothing into their style. It was fun and it was cheap and it was always great to find a favorite piece that wasn’t store bought and mass manufactured so you could stand out a little more.”
And speaking of favorite… “My favorite vintage pieces are classic orange tab Levi’s and old concert t-shirts. Old Levi’s from the 70s just fit and feel better than most new denim. Just like a well-worn concert t-shirt, they have a character and feel that just can’t be replicated — no matter how hard new fashion brands try.”
If you’re looking to incorporate some special vintage pieces into your own look, Prieres has some tips: “I would advise to try and stay away from overloading on vintage accessories — some people go full tilt and end up looking like an extra from a period piece,” she advises.
The goods at True Love Always aren’t limited to vintage clothing, however. Far from it: “A lot of the products we carry we get directly from local makers and it’s been really cool building relationships with local artisans and small business owners,” says Prieres, adding that she and her husband have a great system for choosing what to sell in their boutique: “Damian and I have an unofficial rule that we don’t sell anything in our store that we wouldn’t want to buy ourselves or have in our own home.”
Prieres seems to have mastered multiple balancing acts, from owning a business with her partner (“Damian and I worked together so many years doing the markets and selling vintage, we’re really comfortable with each other and know where our strengths and weaknesses lie”) to creating a schedule that allows their family (she and Damian have two children) to spend quality time together.
Her secret to building a business can also be applied to nailing personal style or mixing being a business owner and a mother: “Take your time and listen to your gut,” she says. “We checked out a few spaces or other businesses that seemed like good opportunities but it just didn’t feel right at the time. Looking back, I’m really glad we pulled the trigger when we did.”
Comment: Which vintage piece in your closet do you love the most?