Vintage visionary

Judy Go Vintage celebrates one year in Tillson

by Megan Labrise
July 25, 2011 11:00 AM | 2 2 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judy Gonzalez of Judy Go Vintage. Photo by Lauren Thomas.
Judy Gonzalez of Judy Go Vintage. Photo by Lauren Thomas.
After years of successful online sales, Judy Gonzalez decided to go for brocade. In 2010, she made the leap from the digital world to a storefront display, opening Judy Go Vintage, an apparel and home goods boutique, at 848 Route 32 in Tillson. Co-owned with husband Grant Abrams, the business will celebrate its first anniversary in August.

“I thought it was time for me to go out into the community. This space was available and, even though the economic lords may have said it was not a good time, it was either now or probably never,” said Gonzalez.

The building, a former science and hobby shop, metamorphosed into a two-story exhibit of fun and funky aesthetics. Gonzalez naturally brings an artist’s eye to her acquisitions.

She began wearing and collecting vintage clothing in high school. She started her art education as an oil painter, moving through acrylics and pastels into collage and mixed media.

“I grew up in [New York City], where there were vintage clothing stores all over the place. As an art student, I was allowed access and had full privileges to wear anything I wanted -- ‘You’re in the city; you’re an artist; oh, okay’ -- so that was nice,” she said.

To qualify as vintage, an item must be more than 20 years old. (True antiques are more than 100 years old.) Gonzalez’s favorite period for all accoutrements is mid-Modern, spanning the 1950s-1970s. When it comes to clothes, those decades encompass both boho chic and colorful couture.

“Fifties is all about the cut, the quality and the design. But sixties is so much fun. So are the seventies; with nylon, the prints are just really wild and I love that,” said Gonzalez.

At Judy Go Vintage, clothing racks display a rainbow of colors and textures in all shapes and sizes. Items range from eye-catching evening wear to everyday vintage. Shoppers can find dresses and men’s dress shirts; shorts and slacks; vests and blouses. A selection of men’s wool blazers will appear in September, in time for cooler weather. Sartorial offerings round out with finishing touches: shoes, purses, jewelry and hats.

“I have a hard time saying no to hats,” said Gonzalez.

Concerning housewares, she admits having a penchant for vintage lighting and chairs. The store offers selections of both, as well as mottled mirrors, dishes and glassware, and unique works of art: a velvet painting of a tiger; stained glass window; and Gonzalez’s own hand-painted shadow boxes.

“The home elements are really important to me. I’m a big believer in your home is your castle. Everybody should have art around them, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Everyone should be conscious about their environment -- that’s part artist, part yogi,” she said.

While most of her inventory is self-sourced, Gonzalez also carries consignment items for members of the local community. The service is meant to appeal to environmentally and economically conscious clientele.

“I think it’s a greener approach to wear something that is not going to go to a landfill, and everyone’s feeling a little bit of a pinch, so it’s nice to get something new for a party without going to the mall and spending so much money. Buying consignment helps the person leaving the dress; it helps the person buying the dress, and it helps the environment,” she said.

For first-time vintage shoppers, Gonzalez is happy to lend a hand. Her number-one piece of advice is to “be an explorer.” It helps to know one’s measurements. Above all, look for items that flatter both body type and personality.

“You have to know what flatters you. That’s what you should look for. You should be fearless if you buy something bold; you shouldn’t be hesitant about it. I have cautioned buyers before: ‘If you’re worried, don’t buy it,’” said Gonzalez. “If solicited, I will be as honest as possible -- as in kindly honest. I think if my customers look good, then it reflects well on me.”

Judy Go Vintage is open six days a week. Summer hours are: 12-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat.; 12-4 p.m. Sun., Mon. Closed Tues. For more information, call the shop at 658-3028.

A selection of Judy Go Vintage finds can be found online at

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Annie Hopcroft
July 28, 2011
What a fun store!

Douglass Truth
July 28, 2011
I can't wait to visit the store in person.

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