Inside D.C. entertainment

Beloved vintage shop Meeps changes hands

December 7, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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Meeps Vintage Fashionette debuted under new ownership at a packed party Tuesday night. After 10 years at the helm of the Adams Morgan shop, Danni Sharkey and Leann Trowbridge pass the Meeps reigns to Cathy Chung and Katerina Herodotou, owners of Treasury Vintage on 14th Street.

The amicable hand-off occurred after both Sharkey and Trowbridge found themselves in stages of life that didn’t allow them to devote the time they wanted to the store.

They had taken over Meeps, which has been open since 1992, in 2001, two days before Sept. 11. “It sounded like a fun opportunity, so we bought it,” Trowbridge says. Despite the shaky economy that followed, Meeps thrived under its new leadership, who added a local designer section. For a decade, Meeps continued to be a star local vintage shop and source of part-time work for “very underemployed” friends. (“They were all, like, PhD students,” Trowbridge says.)

But by 2011, Trowbridge, now a mother of two, was ready to get out. When she got up the nerve to bring it up to her friend and business partner, it turned out that Sharkey, also now a mom, felt the same. “I think our passion had waned,” says Trowbridge. “We couldn’t take care of the store the way we should have. Danni said at one point that Meeps was like her neglected stepchild.”

The women are happy to pass on the store.

“We cleaned the place up a bit,” explains Trowbridge. “And now Cathy and Katerina are cleaning up our mess, which is great!”

The timing of the sale worked well for the Treasury owners, who were interested in acquiring a second business and considered Meeps “a D.C. institution.” The stores differ in aesthetics—Treasury is tiny and highly curated compared to Meeps’ thrift-store vibe—but Herodotou has no plans to turn Meeps into Treasury part II.

“It’s still going to be a more casual vintage shopping experience,” she says. “The costumes and the wigs will stay. The price point will stay the same.” Local artists will still be featured, with a few changes, and the new owners do plan to renovate in 2012 and introduce more contemporary consigned items.

“It’s just going to be Meeps’ general kind of feel, but with our special curatorial vibe,” says Herodotou.

Tuesday night’s party is a parade of cool young women examining floral frocks and sipping bubbly. Long-time Meeps shoppers Erin Boland and Jenn Bress are glad to see the store still has its costume-y vibe but plenty of wearable stock. Bress is giddy over some ‘80s geometric print dresses, and Boland shows off a black dress from the 1940s that needs minor repairs.

She holds up a wild number. “I’m think about getting this dress to piss off my aunt at Christmas,” she explains.

Herodotou and Chung stay busy behind the counter, where the night’s “fill a bag for $20” sale is generating plenty of sales and hopefully setting them up to be the next generation of young women who run Meeps successfully.

Trowbridge would have liked to attend the party, but she doubts she’ll make it. “There’s a chance,” she says. “But my daughter has ballet.”

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