Houston native Elizabeth Sweigart has had a soft spot for the East End of Long Island since she was a child. After moving nearly 1,700 miles to pursue an art degree in New York City, Sweigart sought another big change after college. She opened The Times Vintage shop in 2013, which sells art, fashion, furnishings and vinyl records.
The store is located in Greenport, Long Island and was originally the Suffolk Times newspaper building. In fact, it still says “The Times” on the two-story building. With this, Sweigart felt the name “The Times” should’ve been incorporated into the name of her store, given that she’d be selling items from various time periods.
The stucco building was built in 1909, later purchased by Sweigart’s father who wanted to invest in the up-and-coming area of Greenport. After graduating from Marymount Manhattan College, Sweigart couldn’t find substantial work, but she had always dreamt of opening her own shop.
Sweigert reflected on Greenport’s community, which she has been visiting with her father since a young age.
“I think my most favorite part of Greenport is not only the beauty of it, being surrounded by water but truly the community. There is a lot of hard working family-owned businesses and they all seem to have their own niche. I really likethat everyone has their part in the community, whether it’s the farmer or a cheese shop guy or the oyster shop, you know. It is like everyone has their thing and I think that’s pretty cool.”
Every handpicked item has a story of its own according to Sweigart. A core value of The Times Vintage is to give older items a renewed life, with memories to be had and those to be reflected on.
“One lady once brought in some clothing from when she was a teenager, the clothing from the 60s. So we are going through her jackets and jeans and out of the pocket of one of the jackets, a ticket stub from the Beatles concert fell out. The original ticket was in her pocket! She forgot that it was there for all of those years and we discovered it together and it brought back so many memories for her. She kept the ticket and I kept the jacket. It was kind of cool to think that this jacket has been to a Beatles concert.”
The possibilities for The Times Vintage are endless. Sweigart looks to attend big vintage shows in New York City or Los Angeles, do fashion shows and potentially create a pop-up store on the North Fork for the summer season. Her ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible, whether it’s online or in-person.
Sweigart likened finding clothing items for customers to matchmaking, illustrating the warmth that pervades The Times Vintage.
“I think for me it is like matchmaking. I will see a piece that I love, I have always loved vintage, but maybe it is not necessarily right for me but to have someone come to the shop and try on a dress and it fits them perfectly and then they go on and make memories. It brings people happiness and I think it is also recycling and repurposing, so it is the more conscious way to shop. It is really the feedback from the customers that inspires me the most.”