By Rachel Rascoe
Behind the small, unassuming chalkboard sign on Guadalupe Street marked “Monkies Vintage” lies a diverse selection of items ranging from cowboy boots and denim jackets to ‘90s basketball jerseys, rainbow sequined tops and plastic Ninja Turtle figurines. Serving up an eclectic mix of on-trend retro wears, Monkies can serve students of all styles and price ranges.
Although Monkies has only had a brick and mortar location for a little under a year, owner Frank Vega has been in the business of buying and selling vintage clothing for over 15 years on platforms like eBay and Etsy. Vega was originally drawn to vintage items because of their representation of classic American style and history. The new storefront channels Vega’s affinity for Western flare, displaying shelves upon shelves of leather boots and a grand American flag. For Vega, leather jackets, Levis, and western boots are more than just merchandise.
The quality and iconic imagery of the pieces led Vega to work as a wholesale supplier of American vintage clothing for clients all around the world. Vega says international buyers would ask for the pieces that were being worn in American films like “Grease” and “Back to the Future.” “You have your bikers and you have your preppies,” Vega says. ”You see the culture through the clothing.”
During a short visit to Austin, Vega was won over by the locals’ Southern hospitality and decided to make a permanent move. The idea for Monkies came about after Vega met Martin Escobedo, his current business partner and now longtime friend. Vega’s experience with vintage clothing and Escobedo’s business expertise proved to be a perfect match.
At the beginning of February, Monkies made the move from their location behind Veggie Heaven to their new storefront between Dominoes and Coco’s Cafe on Guadalupe Street. Vegas’ devotion to Americana and quality can be seen in accents like the shop’s shiny blue old Ford truck front turned checkout counter. The growing small business relies on customer loyalty. Through frequent pop-up booths at local events, in-store special events and online sales, Vegas continues to try and establish a name for Monkies in the Austin community.
Vegas wants to provide students with quality clothes at a reasonable price by offering student discounts on a diverse range of products. While the popular vintage shops of SoCo and East Austin please out-of-towners and serious vintage collectors, Monkies Vintage can help the young Austinite on a budget find those unique pieces to mix and match with a modern wardrobe.