Owner Rachel Fox Burson, who was born and raised on College Hill, provides the vision for Nomad, which buys, sells, and trades clothing and other accessories–hats, jewelry, shoes, you name it. This is no Salvation Army; you won’t find musty, crusty, dusty old jeans here. Trained as a singer (yes, that’s antique sheet music papering the ceiling), Burson has a deep abiding love for vintage clothing, so much so that her Etsy shop Le Amor became an outgrowth of her collecting habit. And that begat Nomad, which opened on April 1st and is right next door to The Cosmic Cup and within the well-worn foot traffic of most students at Lafayette (more on that in a minute).
Photographs courtesy of Laura Jane Photography
Nomad, however, is devoted to something bigger than just reselling other people’s closet castoffs. The items in the front half of the shop are new, and will lure you with that handmade, thoughtfully detailed Etsy aesthetic. That’s where you’ll find crafty, original items such as jewelery from DreamBelle Designs (Center Valley) and sweet miniatures from British dollhouses repurposed as earrings, dangling in tiny bags on a display that’s a salvaged window. Utilitarian but stylish selections from American Apparel line the left-hand wall in the front half of the store; she’s the only one in the Lehigh Valley selling the super-soft, sweatshop-free clothing. Burson feels strongly about championing creative types of all stripes, and she envisions Nomad as a gallery space, too, to display work from local artists.
The back half of the store, on the other side of the very cool register (see for yourself; it too, had a previous incarnation as something else) is devoted to the vintage finds–the real gems. She accepts men and women’s designer, name-brand clothing on a seasonal basis (please, don’t drop off a mountain of wool sweaters in July), and offers 30 percent of the retail value or 55 percent trade, redeemable for items in the back half of the store. Logically yet creatively, the clothing is displayed by color, rather than by size per se, and the racks contain many surprises. (Full disclosure: I sold about a half-dozen Members Only jackets from the 1980s to her, and she took every single one.)
Now, a word about the location. Burson notes that right now, vintage clothing stores are a hot trend on college campuses, especially out west, and so she thought, “why not here on the East Coast?” The beauty of a place like Nomad is that it’s never the same store from day-to-day, and nothing in there will break your budget. On the first day, I bought a cute bracelet for $3 that I’ve worn at least three times. I spied a pair of cute owl earrings for a certain owl-loving friend, but because I hesitated, when I went back, the $9 item was gone. During the course of the interview, I tried on a gently used pair of flat, Mary Jane-styled brown shoes from Born that were a touch too short for my size 8.5 feet, priced at $15. Darn.
In several weeks, it would not be surprising to discover an influx of clothing as students purge their college dorms and pack up for the summer. All Nomad needs is a few smart-looking settees or chaise lounge, and it’s got the makings of turning into a real, 19th-century style salon.
Nomad, 518 March Street, Easton; 610.252.2424; ShopNomad (under construction). Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7pm; Saturday, 10:30-5pm.
Note: Lafayette College’s Fashion Club is holding a fashion show Saturday, April 24, from 7pm-9pm, featuring clothing from Nomad. All pieces and more will be for sale after the show.
Carrie Havranek finds it difficult to shop when two small people are clinging to her legs, so she is grateful for the likes of Nomad, which she can walk to and which she hopes will pepper her wardrobe with cute new finds.