There’s a new Kensington vintage shop and it’s a time portal to the ’70s

A new vintage clothing and home goods store has opened in the secondhand haven that is Kensington Market, and it’s a bohemian time portal to a ’70s marketplace, complete with 28 local vendors. At Boho Chachkies, you can find everything from clothes to plants, home decor, jewelry, books and handmade goods.

Joy Zubair, the owner of the Kensington shop, is a first time business owner who left a lifetime career behind when the pandemic hit and emerged on the other side with a new passion. 

Her new love for secondhand clothes and home goods manifested in the form of a brick-and-mortar shop in arguably the vintage centre of the city. She had held onto the hope that when COVID finally passed, she’d be able to find a space on Queen Street or in Kensington Market, where bohemian and vintage shops have long found a home. “That was the big dream,” she says.

In October 2023, she came across a Kijiji listing for a space on Nassau Street. “It felt too good to be true,” Zubair says. “I really thought, no way.”  

But she went to see it and immediately fell in love, opting to sign the lease the next day. With hopes of opening in December for the Christmas retail push, she rushed to get the store together in three weeks. 

She knew she couldn’t source enough inventory on such short notice, at least not without help, but she was well-connected in the vintage community and called upon her friends for support.

“I messaged a bunch of people to say ‘Hey, listen, I’m opening up a big store. Do you want to be a part of it?’” Zubair says, and in doing so she filled the store in two days, with 28 vendors. 

Courtesy bohochachkies.com

Boho Chachkies officially opened on Dec. 1 and though it’s only been two months, Zubair says business has been going really well. The impressive list of vendors includes shops like Plants and Things, JUDY JEAN VINTAGE, Decorative Book Bundles, PACHI handmade and curated jewelry and Vintage Wax Works candle shop.

It’s a long way from Zubair’s original career as a makeup artist, with aspirations to work runway shows. She was working as a manager at MAC when 2020 rolled around and shut down her working life. Suddenly she was stuck at home doing nothing so, recently married with a house full of stuff, she began selling off items she was no longer using on Facebook marketplace. 

She’d always been a thrifter, but she was newly amazed at how easily she was able to make money selling used furniture online. Her aesthetic was naturally bohemian, featuring large rattan pieces, and smaller home decor accessories like brass candles, ash trays and hand-blown Murano lamps. “I found my niche,” she says. 

One day her sister drew her attention to a popular Instagram account with a similar bohemian aesthetic which was operating as a vintage furniture business, and she asked her if she’d consider doing the same thing. Zubair did just that, launching the Boho Chachkies Instagram account in 2020. When lockdowns lifted, she began sourcing new pieces, but thrifting as a source of income had become so popular at the time that Zubair often found herself waiting in Value Village lines for two hours at a time.

Eventually rattan furniture was so high in demand that she couldn’t find it at her local thrift destinations. “You couldn’t get it anywhere anymore,” she says, opting to pivot to selling smaller home decor pieces and clothes.

“When I was finally able to return to my job, I was working at Mac as a manager,” she says. “I realized I just wasn’t happy and I thought, I’m making so much money selling vintage, why don’t I just do it full-time?” She quit, and soon after, she launched an Etsy shop to support her Instagram page. 

Through Etsy, Zubair was able to build a clientele in the U.S., and now makes most of her profits there. She also made her presence known in Toronto’s vintage market scene, serving as a pop-up vendor at Hippie Market and The Welcome Market — all of which served as the perfect foundation for establishing a physical Boho Chachkies shop, become a new and permanent place for secondhand sellers to reach customers. The store is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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