WALKING into Corner 93 is like stepping back in time. The vintage boutique on Station Road, Fulwell, has been lovingly refurbished by owner Lyndsey Jackson and is now a haven for secondhand designer and vintage treasures.
“I wanted it to be like Beamish, really old English,” said Lyndsey. “Everything in here is secondhand, including the furniture, to create a curiosity shop feel.
“The mannequins are the same style as the ones Vivian Westwood used and I bought them on eBay. The counter is an old haberdashery counter from Cherry Knowle. I just really like things which have a history including the clothes I sell.”
Running a vintage boutique was not the 28-year-old’s first career choice, but she developed a taste for secondhand shopping while she was studying fine art photography at Nottingham University.
She said: “At the time eBay was kicking off, so I used to go round car boot sales and charity shops and buy vintage items to sell online and to my friends.
“It started as a hobby and I enjoyed it. Plus it meant I always had my beer money.”
Lyndsey, who comes from Fulwell, moved back to Sunderland after graduating in 2004. She began working for photographer David Lawson but she couldn’t quite kick her eBay habit.
“I was selling a lot of David’s cameras for him online,” said Lyndsey. “And I was still selling my own stuff. I was probably making more money doing that.
“It was always on my mind to start my own business but I was never quite sure what I wanted to do.”
She realised quickly that photography wasn’t for her. She left and began managing Age Concern on Fulwell Road.
She said: “It really helped me to learn the ins and outs of the second hand trade. I did some research and realised that secondhand shops are quite stuffy and not really for young people.
“There was very little high end or fashionable clothing in these shops and I decided I wanted to bring that concept together.”
The former Monkwearmouth pupil took the plunge to open her own business in 2009 when a small shop on Sea Road came up for rent.
She said: “I really wanted it to be the first of its kind in Sunderland, where I could offer cash-for-clothes straight away. I had visited New York and they had loads of shops like that there.
“It means people can bring in items they want to sell and instead of having to wait weeks for the item to sell in the shop I offer them a percentage instantly.”
She added: “I think it’s a really great way to clear out your wardrobe. I have sellers who are seasonal and at the end of each season they get rid of everything and start again. So I get some great pieces for the shop in mint condition.
“And it means people can buy a designer bag or dress that they normally couldn’t afford.”
Lyndsey definitely found a niche in the market and she was looking to expand and move to bigger premises.
She said: “It’s so important to shop local and keep small businesses going. When shops close it really affects trade for the remaining businesses. I was losing a lot of passing trade after shops nearby closed.
“I knew location was key and I always wanted the shop that I’m in now, so when it came up for rent I jumped at the chance.”
Corner 93 has now been up and running for more than two years and it is brimming with beautiful one-off pieces, vintage designer dresses and high end high street treats.
Everything from the vintage Christian Dior turban to the immaculate white Chloe dress to the blue Versace top, it’s hand-picked by Lyndsey which is one of the reasons why she loves her job. It does mean she spends a lot of time rooting through car boot sales or other peoples wardrobes looking for that unique pieces but she knows it’s worth it.
But when you buy vintage couture for a living and spend your days trying to find immaculate designer handbags, it’s inevitable that you will want to keep most of what you find for yourself.
Lyndsey said: “I used to be terrible. I would keep a lot of the handbags and vintage pieces as I love them the most. I bring everything home to sort through and I drive my partner Lee nuts. There is always stuff lying around the house.
“Since having a baby though a lot of things don’t fit any more so I had to have a clear out. I’ve also limited myself on handbags and if I want a new one I have to sell one of my old ones.
Lyndsey is not just thrifty when it comes to her business, everything she buys is secondhand from her pushchair to her wardrobes.
She may have a good eye for secondhand clothes and accessories but she admits she is still learning and she has made mistakes in the past.
She said: “I call it a bad buying in day. When I look at things I’ve bought and think what did you buy that for? When I started I was quite trusting and I didn’t always check items thoroughly. I bought a fur coat and put my arm in it and the sleeve fell off – silly things like that.”
Eventually Lyndsey wants to convert the back room of the shop into a viewing room where you can bring in any items you want to sell and she can make you an offer.
“I’m really passionate about what I do so I put 100 per cent into improving it and updating it. It is hard work but I love it.”
For more information go to www.corner93.co.uk or call 07580 807593