Cable and Company’s tiny showroom/studio is almost as elusive as the vintage it sells.
Down Bauer Alley at 115 W. 18th St., Suite 106, it’s a postage-stamp-sized slice of Americana, with goods from what owner Christopher Oppenhuis considers “the golden era of workwear”: the 1940s to 1980s.
“Knowing where we are is half the secret,” says his wife and co-owner, Ellen Kirk.
The other half of the secret is their small but high-quality inventory of vintage denim, leather and flannel.
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Oppenhuis is a “hunter/gatherer” of sorts, on the prowl for goods at estate sales or on weekend road trips to small rural towns. He calls this region “unpicked,” compared to Chicago, where the couple moved from, although Kirk is originally from Overland Park.
“It’s a perfectly preserved grandpa’s closet in here,” Kirk says of the shop, but the buying clientele is aged 22-40.
The decades-old pieces are hitting a note with men of a younger generation who desire things the way they used to be made. “They want to have something that will last a long time,” Oppenhuis says.
A recent Instagram post shows a 1950s-era Hercules Fieldmaster wool blanket coat going for $238.
In addition to buying, Kirk says that more clients want to take care of and repair their belongings. With a background in costume design and sewing lessons from her maternal grandmother, Kirk offers mending and alteration services on Thursdays.
After starting on eBay, then doing pop-ups in the West Bottoms, Oppenhuis and Kirk decided to go brick-and-mortar. Their showroom/studio is “period correct,” Kirk says, with antique objects such as a church pew, salvaged lockers and a roll-top desk made in the same era as the clothes.
The couple opened shop this year with limited hours — noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday — because it’s a second job. You’ve probably had your coffee roasted by Oppenhuis at Thou Mayest or seen Kirk perform live theater.
But the limited inventory and hours are all part of the plan.
“When you do less, you can do it well,” Oppenhuis says.