Certain vintage stores elevate themselves beyond mere inventories and become museums of our past. This is absolutely the case with Sweet Lorain in Cleveland, Ohio, which is a veritable department store of clothes and collectibles from every era of American life sweeping back a century.
With 10,000 square feet of racks, shelves and furniture groupings, this emporium has been discovered by theater set designers, film producers, magazine art directors, interior designers and others looking for vintage furnishings, Christmas décor, lamps, record players, novelty toys, telephones, glassware and every kind of jewelry and accessory from our past.
Less is not more here. It’s an overload. The clothing racks are tightly crammed, but the sort is worth it. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the brands of your past (Villager! White Stag!) are sandwiched in with the truly forgotten brands of your mother and grandmother.
There are bargains are to be had, and the number of possibilities are staggering. Partygoers looking for a 70s hippie vibe could be overwhelmed with fantastic choices in minutes. There’s an entire case of bright soft plastic flower pins, rings and necklaces that scream Summer of Love. (See photo at top.)
There’s no need to patronize one of the dozen online reproduction vintage clothing sites, like Wearing History Clothing or Jitterbuggin. Everything you could possibly need to recreate an era – shoes, hats, purses, clothing—are found within the walls of this funky, fun establishment.
Redwin Lewis has owned Sweet Lorain for 8 years, changing the name from its earlier incarnation, Suite Lorain. He is totally clued in to the retro world in America. For an annual event of swing dancers called All Balboa Weekend, for example, he sends a collection of bias-cut dance dresses from the 1920s to 1950s.
“It’s fun,” he says of his work, noting that the mania for mid-century modern furnishings is driving a lot of business these days.
Shoppers are treated to humorous signs and displays. Lewis gives his staff leeway to decorate mannequins and displays around holiday themes.
If there’s anything you are nostalgic about from your childhood, visiting this time capsule will let you recreate its look and feel.
Sweet Lorain, 7105 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102. 216-281-1959 sweetlorain.com.
Open Sunday and Monday noon to 5 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday noon to 6 p.m.