From furniture found in season two of Stranger Things to a Nakashima table bought for $30 and sold for more than $4,000, Vic’s Vintage is known for variety and quantity.
Imagine an attic, basement and shipping containers that serve as storage with even more pieces. Owner Victor Peel, commonly known as Vic, has his vintage store lined wall to wall with items. In some spaces, there is little to no space to walk.
From art to vinyl to furniture, each piece he picks has its own story.
However, the vintage furniture store will close its doors on June 1. Saucehouse Barbeque, the restaurant next door, purchased the lot and building for additional parking spots and to use the building as an event space, Peel said.
“All in all, it's been a great ride having this store here. Meeting people, conversing with people telling us these stories all over the world, listening to their stories, meeting a lot of really cool people in here,” Peel said. “So things like that in my store, I’m going to miss that part.”
Vic’s Vintage first opened the shop on March 31, 2011, but Peel has been selling online on eBay when it was still known as AuctionWeb in the 1990s. Now for almost 20 years, he continues to sell items he has collected both locally and overseas from his travels around the world.
"I grab things and like to hold things, and I am going through that transition now where you got to let go.”
— Victor Peel, owner of Vic's Vintage
As a Navy veteran, Peel traveled the world to places such as Singapore, Dubai, the Philippines, and Japan. He began living in Japan after his retirement from the Navy, the country’s culture is what first sparked his interest in antiques.
He bought items which were considered useless in Japan for cheap and flipped their value in the U.S. for a much higher price. In fact, he bought so much that he exceeded the government-issued weight limit and had to use shipping containers to bring back items, Peel said.
Those shipping containers are on his lot, and one of them is full of nothing but lamps from his store. He calls himself a “storder” — a store owner who is also a hoarder. Now he has to sell the pieces he has collected at reduced prices since he has to leave the building by June 1.
Moving to the web
Although the physical location on 768 W. Broad St. will close, Peel has no intention to stop selling. He is clearing out the store, but transitioning to sell all of his items on eBay, a method he’s currently using to sell some of his finds. He also expressed interest in running a pop-up store due to the bulk of the furniture.
“Being a military man, we're used to things being a certain way, not so much change ... that's what I like about this place.” Peel said. “And so this is a change for me to make. And it's hard for me to let go … I grab things and like to hold things, and I am going through that transition now where you got to let go.”
Peel considers the closing of his physical location to be bittersweet because he will miss interacting with customers face to face the most. But, as he continues his vintage venture, he is focusing on acting on his core values such as spending time with his family. However, traveling the world remains in his plans.
“I’ve been telling everyone that I’m going from Athens, Georgia to Athens, Greece on June 1 … but I’ll be back,” Peel joked.
Mark Opel, co-owner of the Starlite Showroom, knew Peel before he opened his vintage home store right next door in 2015. Opel used to sell side by side with Peel at Atomic, a vintage store on Clayton Street, previously called Agora. Peel had no qualms about Opel opening his store, Opel said.
“It’s kind of made this nice little vintage block. Most customers [who] come in here, go in there. And most customers [who] go in there, come in here,” Opel said. “So, yeah, it's been a symbiotic relationship.”
Opel is not sure what Vic’s Vintage closing means for him or how it will affect his sales or customer base.
“It's hard to predict that if with one less vintage store, does that mean my sales will go up? Or are less people likely to stop now because he's gone … It's hard to tell,” Opel said.
Peel has opened up his basement to Opel, allowing him to make purchases before other customers. If Opel were in the same situation as Peel, he feels his vintage brand could survive due to his presence and following online.
A community treasure chest
Jacob Weinstein, a music education senior at the University of Georgia, is a self-described collector of mid-century modern pieces and avid customer at Vic’s Vintage. Specifically, Weinstein collects mid-century radios. He came across the shop when he was a freshman at UGA. He considers the store to be a “curio shop" in that it sells peculiar items.
“Some people might say, ‘Oh, it's a junk shop.’ Well, not really,” Weinstein said. “Every single thing in the shop Vic is picked up and it has some sort of meaning and purpose and is valuable for whatever reason.”
He visits Vic’s Vintage on the weekends whenever he has free time and looks for different pieces, whether it be vacuum tubes necessary to run his music equipment from 1958-1963, or a mid-century typewriter. The most memorable item he acquired from the store is a Heritage Henredon dresser that he paid $400 for.
“Every single thing in the shop Vic is picked up and it has some sort of meaning and purpose and is valuable for whatever reason.”
- Jacob Weinstein, UGA student
The two have a friendship that exceeds simply customer and seller with their love for vintage items. Weinstein said that the closing of Vic’s Vintage is a “loss for the city.”
“I definitely think I really wish they could have stayed open in that location ... Because they're not just people that sell furniture,” Weinstein said. “Vic will take the time to teach you about what he has … going there is an educational experience … And so I'm going to miss that.
Betsy Dillard Bahnsen, co-founder of The Organized Estate Chicks, which specializes in helping people downsize, is another supporter of Peel’s mission. Bahnsen first met Peel through her company’s estate sales, and they became friends as Peel frequents Bahnsen’s sales for items.
“It looks like he has so much in there that he just takes whatever he sees, but I don't think what people really [see is that he’s] not like a junker. He’s a true picker,” Bahnsen said. “He picks his pieces, he doesn't just buy something because it's a good price. It does something for him when he sees it.”
Peel has given Bahnsen and her team tips regarding antique pricing and value. He was the very first person who would walk through her estate sales, Bahnsen said. Now, it almost comes full circle, as The Organized Estate Chicks will walk through his store to help him sell what remains inside.
“The way he loves people, and the way he cares about his customers. Vic is not out for Vic,” Bahnsen said. “There’s not many business people in the world like that … So I’m sad to see someone in Athens [with] that kind of character shut down the store.”