New York City’s retail landscape is in constant flux, and it seems that every week a business closes its doors and a new one opens in its place. So what does is take for local businesses to sustain themselves when faced with the realities of rising rents and fickle fashionistas?
After talking with Seth Weisser, founder of Soho vintage boutique What Goes Around Comes Around, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, we found out exactly what the secret is: offer something that no one else does better in the neighborhood.
Weisser opened the store in 1993 with college friend and fellow vintage enthusiast Gerard Maione. Keep in mind that in the early 90s, Soho was still fairly desolate, and most vintage stores stayed in the confines of the Village. Back then, Weisser and Maione mainly stocked their shelves with vintage tees, Levi Strauss jeans, and a limited selection of luxury vintage items for women. But as the sales grew, so did the store. Since then, they’ve added two rooms and an expansive basement, which features an impressive archive that includes pieces dating back to the 1880s.
Fast forward to 2013, and the store continues to grow. Besides running the boutique, Weisser and Maione are now full-fledged designers – inspired by the many years spent curating their collections of vintage treasures. The men’s collections consist of work wear and formal button downs, as well as leather motorcycle jackets based off of vintage designs in soft, buttery leathers – plus leathers and furs for women as well. The store’s unparalleled collection of vintage Chanel and Hermes bags, clothing, and accessories is what really attracts the big spenders and the window shoppers alike – you truly have to see it to believe it. We sat down with Seth to talk about the store and the last 20 years on West Broadway:
GrandLife: When did you get into vintage?
Seth Weisser: I first got into vintage back in college at Syracuse – I loved wearing vintage Levis and cool military stuff back then.
GL: What made you want to open a vintage store in Soho and not the East or West Village?
SW: The Village had long been the vintage destination in NYC, but we looked at Soho as the place for a higher fashion clientele. In 1993, Soho was much more independent and creative as all the downtown galleries used to be in Soho.
GL: How has the Soho neighborhood changed in your 20 years here?
SW: When we first opened, Soho was much more independent, but over the years it’s become such a popular destination and many of the top international fashion brands have made it their NYC home. We still love Soho for its amazing array of stores and food.
GL: How do you think WGACA has been able to sustain itself in this evolving neighborhood throughout the years? What have you done to keep up with the changing times?
SW: WGACA has lasted due to our commitment to exceptional product and customer service, plus a great landlord who has supported us instead of only thinking about how much money they can make – which has pushed so many businesses out of the area. We’ve always looked at innovation like social media and technology to keep WGACA in the forefront, and we’re planning on updates to our online platform soon to better service our clients outside of NYC.
GL: Where did you draw inspiration for your men’s Fall Collection and your women’s pieces?
SW: We draw from our vintage collection and also how we see rock and roll influence fashion.
GL: What is your one most prized vintage possession?
SW: Only one? That’s a tough one… but I guess it’s my 101st Airborne paratrooper ring from the second World War – I wear it every day.
GL: What do you have to say to the people out there who are weary of the vintage concept?
SW: Vintage has become a misused term. Many don’t understand the quality and importance of a vintage piece, but for the fashionistas, vintage is an integral part of their style. It’s an amazing way to express your individuality and personal taste.
GL: Any plans to celebrate the store’s anniversary?
SW: We’re having a huge event in November to celebrate 20 years, including a presentation of WGACA’s 20 favorite looks on West Broadway with a mad soirée afterwards.