After being displaced from her SoHo shop in late 2010 by a landlord who wanted more in rent (Stella McCartney is housed there now) Tiffany Nicole McCrary had to think on her feet. “It literally came to me in an instant,” said the 34-year-old. Being from the South (specifically, Atlanta), where RVs are so common they blend into the scenery, the answer seemed obvious.
“So, I was like, here’s the ticket. If I can find one that I can afford, then I’ll go for it,” McCrary said. “And it just so happened at that same time Hayden [Cummings] was liquidating his trailers, and so I looked on Craigslist and found one within five minutes, and I was like, ‘It’s a sign.’”
When Cummings delivered the 14-foot, late ’70s Continental trailer, he dropped it off on a corner in front of Roberta’s in Bushwick. “In the beginning, I didn’t even have enough money for a van, so [for] a long time — people know me in that neighborhood — my trailer was just unhitched, parked right in front of Roberta’s,” McCrary said. Within two days, she opened up her mobile vintage store — the gutted trailer filled with racks of clothing — and people began to shop. “Here we are three years later!” she added, excited.McCrary has since upgraded to a 21-foot 1984 trailer with no name (even on the title, it just says “trailer,” she told me) with a ’95 Dodge Ram 2500 to pull it, but you’ll still find her in front of Roberta’s on weekends. She considers it her home spot. During the week she’s been switching it up to share the goods: she’s taken it to the Jefferson stop near her apartment, and the highly populated Metropolitan stop on occasion.
Seven days a week she’s open from six in the evening till around ten in the wintertime; and, in the spring and summer, as late as twelve, one, or two depending on where she’s parked and what the vibe is like. “I think the latest I’ve stayed out is a little after two,” she said. “But you would be surprised at the amount of people who are shopping at 1 a.m.! It’s crazy.”
And surely that’s part of the fun of The Mobile Vintage Shop. It’s open late and everything is ten dollars. “I like it because it’s a very happy business. People are usually out drinking, having dinner — we’ll get a lot of drunkums, we love that. But people are just happy, and the whole point behind it is, again, it’s just an experience and it’s an affordable experience.”
Wondering how McCrary is able to keep things so cheap and still manage to put new merch out every day? Aside from the fact that she doesn’t pay any rent (her only bills are for insurance, gas, the occasional parking ticket and fixing all the flats she gets in Bushwick), she travels to Atlanta every six weeks or so to stock up. “Honestly, I just have to get out of the city to find deals. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sell it for ten dollars and that’s a big thing of mine.”
Unlike so many vintage stores that are dedicated primarily to women with only a tiny nod to men, McCrary believes in equal opportunity for all. “I really like my men clients. When I first started selling vintage years ago, I didn’t do men’s. And then one day I just put out a little rack, and I saw the demand — like, these guys nowadays, they are shoppers. So, honestly, I make just as much in men’s as I do in women’s,” she confided.
Later this summer McCrary is planning to open up another mobile shop, this one with friend and fellow vintage dealer Neanna Bodycomb of Bogart & Moore Vintage. This one will travel everywhere — all over Brooklyn, Manhattan, and beyond. First they just need to get a drivable RV, which they plan to do with the help of Kickstarter. Keep your eyes peeled.