Old Crow Vintage opened in August 2016 at 485 New Park Ave. in West Hartford.
By Ronni Newton
Old Crow Vintage is one of those places that’s hard to leave, because whenever you think you’ve seen all of the interesting items on display, something else catches your attention.
Old Crow is part antique store, part Grandma and Grandpa’s attic/garage, part yard sale, and if you’re a Baby Boomer or an older Gen X’er – it’s a scrapbook of your childhood. It defines eclectic, and is perfectly-situated among the other cool and trendy businesses at 485 New Park Ave. in West Hartford’s Home Design District.
Gina Ferrucci and Pat Bronowicki are partners in the business, which just opened on Aug. 11. They met at Shamrock Tattoo Company on Park Road, where Bronowicki is a tattoo artist and Ferrucci was a customer, and the two now share a home in Farmington as well as the business.
“Pat had been collecting for a long time,” Ferrucci said. They couldn’t fit anything else in their house, and Ferrucci said they had to stop buying stuff, but neither really wanted to stop looking.
Bronowicki started consigning items for sale at Blaze & Bloom, which is also located at 485 New Park, when they decided to make a go of opening up their own store. Ferrucci said Old Crow Vintage is more “masculine,” and rather than being in competition is a perfect complement to Blaze & Bloom.
A quick glance around the store reveals a vintage Flexible Flyer sled that Bronowicki has repurposed into a bookshelf. Repurposing, cleaning, and painting items he finds by the side of the road, at tag sales, and at thrift stores is one of Bronowicki’s favorite hobbies.
He also likes collecting old bikes, and has a selection that ranges from 60s era tricycles to Schwinn Stingrays to cruisers. The bikes are showcased in the courtyard every Saturday, Bronowicki said. There’s also a collection of vintage cameras.
Many of the items are perfect for a “man cave,” Bronowicki said, and would appeal to guys in their 20s and 30s. There are bourbon-related items, trunks, military memorabilia, a ship’s wheel, interesting signs and banners, an old Coca Cola cooler, bowling pins.
Not all of Old Crow’s items are “manly,” however.
“We keep hearing, ‘I had that elephant toy box,'” Ferrucci said of a large, plastic, spotted elephant, just one of the items that’s a trip down memory lane for those who grew up in the 1970s.
Also spotted from that era: Girl Scout sashes and plaid fabric-covered canteens, a plastic record player, and both the Fisher Price Little People Schoolhouse and the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe – complete with the original wooden-bodied, plastic-faced “people” and farm animals.
Some of the merchandise is truly antique, which Bronowicki said means it’s more than 100 years old, as opposed to “vintage” which is anything more than 20 years old. There’s a white wooden table salvaged from a girl’s reformatory school in Massachusetts, and an Army Cannon heater that Ferrucci thinks may also qualify as antique. The wooden rifle bench has an antique look, but Ferrucci said it’s from the Vietnam era.
Ferrucci said her favorite item in the store is a desk with a hinged top that opens to reveal the space where an inkwell once was kept. Bronowicki’s favorite is the Butcher block table that’s used to display a host of items.
The background music in Old Crow is vintage as well. On the day of this interview the “Hawaii Calls Show” was playing on a VoiceMaster stero. A box of 45s is at the ready.
Keeping the store stocked hasn’t been a problem, and Ferrucci said that now people are starting to call them if they are getting rid of things, and she said it’s fun seeing and figuring out what stuff was. “The best phone calls are ones where people say, ‘Can you come over?'” she said. Sometimes people just give them things.
Bronowicki said pricing items can be challenging. He generally looks for the item online and then prices it under market value. “Just to be fair. We know not everyone is made of money,” he said.
Why “Old Crow”? Bronowicki said the name is an homage to World War II bombers and bomber nose art – as well as Old Crow whiskey.
So far the steady stream of customers has found out about Old Crow Vintage by word of mouth, from friends and family members as well as other 485 New Park tenants. The store is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Ferrucci said they will open other days by appointment (860-348-6607) and hope to open on Sundays as the holidays approach.
On Oct. 1, the store will share a grand opening celebration with Kim Green’s meditation studio Mindfulness and Matters, another newly-opened business at 485 New Park. The grand opening cocktail party begins at 4 p.m. in the courtyard, and will feature food, drinks, music, and of course shopping.
“It will be casual. Come as you are, have a drink, have fun,” Bronowicki said.
For more information follow Old Crow Vintage on Facebook or Instagram (@OldCrowVintage)
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