I stopped by Black Bear in Windsor Terrace for a chat with Julia Duncan-Roitman, who co-owns and runs the store with her partner, Michelle Ferrara. The shop is super cute, and bursting with vintage clothing and accessories, as well as a well curated selection of home decor and gifts. They opened in May 2010, and are located at 469 16th Street in Brooklyn, NY, conveniently next door to an ice cream shop.
Julia attended FIT, and after a string of jobs in fashion, decided to pursue her dream of owning her own business. Michelle studied accessory design at FIT, is a stylist, and is responsible for the adorable window displays. Both have always loved vintage and handmade goods, and are interested in promoting local artists and designers.
A tight selection of vintage clothing that manages to be trend-right. It appears that items are chosen based on look and wearability, rather than fancy labels. There is also a baby / kids section. They also carry unique jewelry, housewares, and art including: Julia's own line of applique pillows, Dirty Ass Soaps, jewelry by Christine Domanic, and dishes by foldedpigs.
Describe your typical customer:
Julia says they see a wide range of customers come into the store, from tween girls to older ladies. The majority are women, though the store carries men's things as well. Interestingly, they get a pretty large number of international tourists, who stop by on their way to check out Prospect Park. Julia says the tourists are extremely complimentary, and buy a lot of stuff.
What items sell the best? Can you determine any trends?
They have been selling a lot of seasonally appropriate items that customers can "wear now". Specifically, sundresses, rompers, white shoes, and denim shorts. Julia mentions that 90's era floral prints have been particularly popular lately, especially with their trend-driven tween customers.
What are the biggest influences when selecting items for your store?
Julia is always researching; she mentions magazines, Full Frontal Fashion, and just keeping an eye open on the street. She then buys accordingly, whether its the handmade items they sell on consignment or the resale vintage items.
What do you really want people to know about your store?
Black Bear strives to be the go-to, reliable, inexpensive neighborhood place for unique gifts, accessories, and clothing. They want to keep it fun and incorporate humor.
The business model is based on community interaction, people bring things in for resale and the store represents and promotes local artists.
F train to 15th Street / Prospect Park