NEW ALBANY— For years, Ami Jo Romig and her daughter, Christian Johnson, have sold vintage items together at local flea markets. On Saturday, the team opened their first brick-and-mortar store in downtown New Albany.
"We're used to selling in a 10-by-10 tent," Johnson said. "Now, we've upgraded to walls."
The Odd Shop, located at 310 Bank St. in the Odd Fellows building, sells vintage items and antiques such as collectibles, clothing and records. The shelves are filled with old toys, games and knick-knacks, and the walls are covered with vintage movie and music posters.
The owners' friend, Renee Pfeifer, is a shop manager. As the name indicates, the shop features many unusual items that caught their eyes.
"We’re trying to find a home for vintage items that have been put to the side by certain people," Johnson said. "Someone might not see it as a treasure, but someone might. It just depends on the people who come in."
The shop's inventory includes items that evoke nostalgia in customers, whether they are old records or games people played with when they were kids, Romig said. The owners frequently shop at yard sales and flea markets, and sometimes they find items when people clean out their attics.
Many of the items are things they didn't want to see thrown away, so instead they decided to repurpose them and help them find a new home, she said. As a result, the store is packed with an eclectic inventory that will constantly change.
She said owning a brick-and-mortar shop is easier in many ways than selling at flea markets. For example, now they don't have to store so many items in their home.
"We call it a human-size 'I Spy' game," Romig said. "Then when we’re packing everything, it’s human-sized Tetris."
Johnson, who also works as a history interpreter at the Culbertson Mansion, said her great-grandparents sparked her love of history and vintage items by taking her to yard sales and flea markets to find antiques. In addition to her own flea market experience, she has sold items online.
Eventually, the owners plan to list The Odd Shop's inventory on its website to expand business. Both Johnson and Romig are artists, and they also hope to add a selection of local art as they go along. One of the displayed pieces includes a mosaic of David Bowie created by Johnson using broken vinyl records and CDs.
It took them a while to settle on a name, Romig said, but the building's location and the nature of the store presented an opportunity.
"We're in the Odd Fellows building, and everything's odd, so let's call it The Odd Shop," she said. "It fit perfectly."
Their business, whether it's the flea market booths or the new store, has been a bonding experience for the mother and daughter, who consider themselves to be best friends.
"We're like a force to be reckoned with," Romig said.