Walking home after a night of clubbing in the Lower East Side of the 1970s and ‘80s, Ken West and his friends would often stumble across a gem someone had left on the curb — a mid-century lamp, Art Deco artifact, you name it — to add to their growing collection of pre-loved goods.
The genesis of NoNu Vintage in Dumont is also one of happenstance. Wanting to turn a lifelong passion of collecting into a business venture, West and co-owner Jon Welsh spent a year scouting the perfect location for their shop before they noticed a vacant storefront on their way through town.
Open since 2014, NoNu carries retro clothing and accessories, as well as mid-century modern furniture and other vintage home goods. West and Welsh also offer design services, sourcing items from NoNu and elsewhere to help create a dream space for clients.
“1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, Art Deco from the 1920s and ‘30s. That’s what we know and love and collect,” West said, and fellow vintage lovers travel from across New Jersey, Brooklyn, Pennsylvania, and beyond to shop at NoNu. “There’s a subculture of people that want original pieces, and we cater to them.”
Do Your Homework
Interested in dipping your toes into the world of vintage shopping but not sure where to start? West recommends seeking out estate sales and garage sales in your area. “Just pull over and see what they have” — and what catches your eye.
Both West and Welsh say doing a bit of research into brands and styles is also a must for collectors. “Take your time [while browsing] and be very careful, because there are so many knockoffs and labels,” West said. Even well-known contemporary brands put out vintage-inspired collections that are dupes of the real deal.
Welsh suggests checking out sites like 1stdibs to learn the value of different brands and items.
Enjoy the Thrill of the Hunt
“We always say that your home, your wardrobe, is a representation of you,” West said. “Find what suits you, what gives you a little tickle.”
Some of West’s favorite finds from over the years include a 1960s Chanel suit, Milo Baughman dining room sets and armchairs, and Frankart lamps. “It’s all about treasure hunting and finding things you love.”
“A lot of people find what they’re looking for, and it’s not what they thought they would want,” Welsh said. “They’ll get a spark in their eye and just know.”
Pass It On
Stores like NoNu Vintage also appeal to those wanting to shop more sustainably and ethically. “We’re helping to save the environment a little bit and making people happy,” Welsh said. It’s even highlighted on the shop’s website: “Buying vintage lets you add classic, stylish, well-made items to your wardrobe and home. It keeps those items in use and removes you from the cycle of poorly made, short-lived clothing and furniture. “
“It’s recycling. This is going from the first owner, to you, to hopefully the next owner,” West said.
And, of course, if you have some treasures of your own you’re willing and ready to part with, West and Welsh are always on the lookout for the next item they can add to the NoNu collection. Got anything that needs a new home?
By Elyse Fernandez
Photos by Ken West and Jon Welsh
14 West Madison Avenue, Dumont, NJ