High-Concept Flea Market Draws Vintage Fans to Central Maine

By Adrian Perron
Photographed by Dave Dostie
Excerpt from our May 2022 issue

When she left Georgia 10 years ago, Nicole Stanford had no idea the size and dedication of Maine’s vintage community. But since the start of Winthrop’s monthly vintage market, The Vault, in 2020, she’s watched customers line up an hour before opening, found herself waiting-listing potential sellers and recording more. $40,000 in sales in a single day. “It’s beyond anything I imagined,” she said.

Stanford and her husband, Jesse, own Freckle Salvage Company, a Maine-made vintage and gift shop on Winthrop’s recently bustling Main Street. They started The Vault after discovering that their rented storefront had a 3,500 square foot basement they didn’t know existed. Knowing how difficult it is to start a business, she says, they thought, why not use it to give Maine makers and vintage dealers a recurring space to set up shop? Then, after six months of housing a dozen vendors, the Stanfords moved The Vault to a 6,000-square-foot former textile factory at the end of the street, roughly doubling the pop-up’s capacity. Last year, in the run up to Christmas, the market welcomed over 2,000 shoppers in one weekend.

Vault vendors, specializing in clothing, furniture, decor, and more, each get a floor section to set up a miniature storefront. Each month’s market has a theme – April is “Garden Party” and May is “Upta Camp” – and vendors design their space and curate their wares accordingly. On a visit in February, the theme was “Perfect Matches”. Saleswoman Kristina Stewart, whose shop Yellow Bird Works stocks gently used homewares and decorations, opted for a country mouse/city mouse motif, with “fresh eggs” signs and a $4 chicken feeder at the sides of elegant glass bowls and small ceramic sculptures. Nearby, Christine Slader chose to pair Frida Kahlo with flowers – all the funky, colorful clothes, scarves, handbags, and more. of his Boho Birdie booth were inspired by one or the other. She had also set up a selfie station with a colorful backdrop and a slew of try-on props. That’s typical of Slader, says Stanford, who tends to go all out to stage his space — and often helps others stage theirs to keep the market fresh.

“We are part of a family here,” says Slader. “They are my new friends, we don’t sell together in one weekend. We dine, we save money, we support each other through the ups and downs.

Le Caveau is open one weekend a month, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Upcoming dates include April 23-24 and May 21-22. 149 Main St., Winthrop. 207-395-5429.



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