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What’s old is new again at Vintage Sanctuary

OCEANSIDE — Stephanie Meek celebrates “dress up” 365 days of the year at her Vintage Sanctuary shop located at 625 S. Coast Highway 101.
She says it was actually a terminal case of “Beatlemania” and an affinity for 1960s-era clothing that inspired her to open the resale store 12 years ago.
“The Beatles not only changed music but also the way we looked at the world and fashion,” she said.
Today the boutique specializes in clothes, accessories and memorabilia from the 1920s through the 1980s. This includes spats, flapper dresses, poodle skirts, crocheted bell-bottomed pants and an original Wonder Woman costume. She also has beaded purses, clothes and vintage jewelry.
“The price is determined by the label, the condition and the demand,” Meek said. “The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are the best sellers with the best profit.”
Meek acquires her best merchandise at estate sales that she scours early on weekend mornings. It takes at least a week to prepare her purchases for sale.
“My mother is the backbone of my business — she’s washing, she’s ironing, she’s steaming, she’d mending,” Meek said. “I pride myself in carrying pristine clothing.”
Meek said she also gets a lot of clothes from patrons at the nostalgic 101 Café next door.
“They’ll come in and say, ‘I have so many clothes, I should get rid of things,’” she said. “I’ll go to their home. That’s where I get the good stuff, especially men’s clothes and ties.”
Costumers and designers from the entertainment industry in Los Angeles travel to Vintage Sanctuary to have the opportunity of picking through Meek’s racks.
Hearst Castle also uses vintage clothing from the store for its evening shows in which actors are dressed up as guests at a 1930s-era party hosted by Hearst himself.
Last summer Susanna Kurner of the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad visited the shop for help with the production of “The Seven Year Itch.”
“Stephanie was gracious enough to allow us to raid her store,” she said. “We decided to go with ‘Mad Men’ style. Since I was the costume designer I was able to dig through everything and get some great stuff.”
In addition to what’s available in her 500-square-foot store, Meek has so much inventory that she’s had to rotate it from her home and several storage units to make room for merchandise for seasonal events such as Halloween. That has changed since July, when she went into business with her daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Michael Fairchild, in a second store called Vintage 101, located at 1307 S. Coast Highway.
“I have a lot of new inventory that has never come in through the doors of the Sanctuary,” she said. “I have an extra inventory of fall and winter coats from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s that my customers are waiting for that is priced between $25 and $75.”
In addition to clothing, the new shop features lighting, lamps, barware and furniture from the 1950s and 1960s.
“My daughter is into vintage kitchenware, fabric, toys and children’s things,” Meek said. “She has beautiful hanging macramé tables.”
One thing that surprises her is the new demand for retro audio systems.
“Everybody was so excited about iPods when they came out,” she said. “Now they want records, record players and hi-fi console stereos.”
For more information, call Meek at (760) 439-4535.