Beeline Interview: Stray Vintage’s Dan & Tara Glasser

I liked Stray Vintage immediately. I was so happy when they opened in the neighborhood. They’re a happy combination of vintage, new, and neighborhood-local. I love taking leisurely strolls down Skillman and wandering into Stray to check out bags and trinkets. (And usually end up crushing on a piece of furniture that I sadly don’t have room for.) It’s one of those places I’d like to keep a secret, but Dan & Tara are just so awesomely down to earth, how could I keep this treasure trove of a store to myself?

Name: Dan & Tara Glasser
Occupation: Owners of Stray Vintage & More
Borough/Neighborhood: Queens/Sunnyside

Tell us a little about Stray Vintage and how you got started: We opened Stray in November 2006. Our story is a bit untraditional, we actually had our eyes on the space for a while before we knew that it was available. After finding out it was up for rent, we started throwing around ideas on what type of business would not only suit us best but benefit the neighborhood as well. A secondhand shop just felt natural for us.

What was the original idea behind the store? Any future world domination plans? We’ve been thrift shop junkies since we met about 9 years ago. So the idea for opening a shop that sells secondhand items alongside new items seemed like a perfect fit. Whenever possible, we try to find new products that are designed, produced or distributed within the 5 boroughs. For our secondhand stuff, we travel (bi-weekly) all around NY, PA, NJ and cram all the estate & garage sales in as we can… this is the fun part. As far as dominating the world, we’re setting up a string of Stray MEGA-stores across the globe… 2009… lookout.

I love walking into the store, it has such a low-key, friendly vibe and everything is organized and displayed in such a way that you can easily see and access it — every turn unveils new surprise goodies! How did you decide how to design the space? Any design inspirations? The ceilings are high, the floor is narrow but long so, it naturally has a gallery-esque look to it. The furniture we bring in functions as displays for jewelry, frames, glassware,etc. As the furniture goes, the floor layout takes a new shape. We try and use the high ceilings to our advantage by displaying large mirrors, artwork & antique frames. Maximizing the wall space is essential. We’ve found inspiration in some of the smaller, cozier shops in upstate New York. It always helps to observe how similar size shops use their space.

You always have good music playing in the shop; who do you like listening to? Any local bands/musicians? One of our good friends just turned us onto Joe Meek. He was a popular producer/songwriter in England in the early 60’s with an enormous catalog of stuff. We’ve been playing a lot of his box sets. Aside from that, King Khan & the BBQ are an incredible garage rock duo out of Montreal. Swedish psychedelic rock by Dungen. There’s a great record label called Daptone Records (Brooklyn). They put out Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Budos Band, Sugarman 3 and some other great soul/afrobeat/funk music. Tom Waits, M. Ward, we’re enjoying the new Beck. Right before we close we crank Hall & Oates.

Favorite shop(s) in the neighborhood (Or Queens, NYC/NY, etc.): Build it Green! NYC is a great salvage/surplus place in Astoria. It’s great for materials if you’re renovating or building a time machine, recycled goods! [Ed.: They are pretty awesome!]

Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: De Mole (45th St. & 48th Ave.) is incredible. Definitely the best Mexican food we’ve had in NY. Quaint and Aubergine Cafe (both on Skillman Ave.) are really great. Sapori d’ischia in Woodside is amazing too.

Little known fact about your neighborhood: Sunnyside was home to one of the greatest dixieland-jazz composers Bix Beiderbecke. There’s a tribute to Bix in August every year at the episcopal church on 46th street. It’s a fun time.

Favorite watering hole: Mickey Johns or the Gaslight – they both have backyards.

Best pizza in your hood:
Check out Rosarios on Skillman Avenue. The owner, Anthony, swears that his sauce is an aphrodisiac.

If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene: For the opening scene – – Not to sound biased but it would have to be Sunnyside Gardens. It’s just a beautiful neighborhood with a lot of history & character. For all my action sequences, Miami.

Any advice for the kids out there interested in starting their own shop? Find a space, do a lot of research on the area, write down some questions and talk to the local business owners. Most importantly, with whatever you want to open, make sure its something that you can put your heart into. Some people open up small businesses with $$ blinders on and they have no intention on benefiting the neighborhood. Listen to your customers and they’ll support you in return.

Alright, what is your all time favorite monster movie?
Monster: Godzilla vs. Mothra. Horror: Children of the Corn or Pet Cemetery.

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