Una Mae’s Chicago housed new and vintage clothing, gifts and apothecary products in the heart of Wicker Park before it was cool. Between the hustle and bustle of this ever-growing area, they manage to keep the old exciting, the new timeless and accessories (both home and apparel considered) adorable in the most sophisticated way possible. To better explain how their eclectic shop rocks Milwaukee Avenue, I spoke with buyer and (in short) the “jack-of-all-trades” for Una Mae’s, Nick Johnson.
Name: Nick Johnson
CollegeFashionista: Can you tell me about yourself and the shop?
Nick Johnson: I’ve been here for nine years. I started when I was 21. I was working at a shop before then that was completely different from this and at the time [Una Mae's] was a little bit more vintage. Learning about buying vintage and starting out with literally having no brands that anyone knew– it has been kind-of awesome to grow basically from the ground up, cultivating brands in the store and seeing customers come for that while still doing vintage too. It’s been really cool to build something unique.
CF: What would you say your buying criteria for the shop are?
NJ: It used to be that it had to be under a certain price point but it has changed over the years. We try to keep a solid price point in mind; we don’t want to sell anything that’s too expensive. That’s always sort of been the criteria. Now after being able to test some brands out, and we’ve found on the men’s side here that we have a market for some things that are completely out of the ball park or at least what would’ve been five years ago. Our woman’s buy is generally at lower price points so we can have a little bit more fun with fast-fashion styles or some things on trend. I like to have fun stuff that’s not intimidating or not pretentious. You don’t have to wait until your next paycheck to come by again.
CF: What do you believe your shop adds to Chicago’s fashion culture?
NJ: I feel like we are as close to a landmark as we can be in the neighborhood at this point because there are hardly any stores still open over here that have been open since 1997. That is one thing – that if we’re talking about the Chicago fashion scene, what we bring to it is representing Wicker Park since 1997 and we’re still going strong. There’s chain stores opening up over here, at least we’re still some of the old charm that’s relevant in the neighborhood. Beyond that, I think we have such an accessible offering of goods.
CF: What should we expect from you guys for the upcoming season?
NJ: There will be more [summer] stuff coming in soon like some apothecary products and fun Pendleton beach towels, too. But the other thing in the summer that we do is we’ll start stocking on more grooming and house ware products because it kind of gives you time to start testing out that stuff to build up for the holidays. We’re going to end up gearing up for the fall at the end of July so I’m looking forward to that because I know in terms of our Woman’s, we have outerwear coming in that is more “Chicago-appropriate.” I’m excited for winter after our gnarly one that we had last year, it’ll be fun buying in preparation for it.
Learn More: Check out all the affordable vintage clothing, rustic housewares and on-trend, newer brands you could ever dream of at 1528 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.