Allen Cao’s “side hustle” started on Instagram: one-of-a-kind clothing modeled by friends, first to comment gets dibs. A “DM” and a delivery later, and the throwback threads are yours.
Cao, a senior in Penn State’s entrepreneurship program, noticed what his peers were opting for in repping their school: convenience, often at the expense of sartorial savvy. Mass-produced apparel may promote solidarity, but little in the way of personal expression.
It wasn’t his style.
“There’s no real swag to it, there’s no fashion behind it,” he said. “I like wearing stuff that stands out,”
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Vint Condition, his vintage clothing resale business, is the type of freestyle enterprise that more of his peers are opting for, whether out of ambition or necessity. Cao scours thrift shops and the internet for the gear.
The retro finds — jean jackets, T-shirts and school sweaters from the 1980s and 1990s — provide the unique vibe that will predominate Pop Up Ave, the urban-style flea market that will come to downtown State College three times in 2017. The first is slated for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 29 at the Garner Street Parking Lot, 150 S. Garner St.
“We’re really focused on handmade and vintage sellers,” said Brad Groznik, owner of Groznik PR and one of the event’s co-founders. “All the great stuff that’s happening downtown — this is an addition to that ecosystem.”
More than 40 vendors from around the state are scheduled to attend, co-founder Andrea Groznik said. They range from vintage apparel businesses like Cao’s to jewelry makers and artists.
At the inaugural event held in September, more than 1,500 people attended, the couple said. The spring event will include a mix of new and returning vendors.
“An urban flea market is a pretty modern concept that is alive and well in other cities around the country,” said Amy Frank, owner of downtown arts and craft studio The Makery and one of the returning vendors. “State College is just as cool as Portland, Ore., and Austin, Tex., and Brooklyn, N.Y., and we really have all the elements. We just have to remind ourselves.”
Like last year, The Makery will have an arts and crafts space with activities for children and adults. The studio is also hosting an after party from 7 to 9 p.m., highlighting the work of local artist Will Snyder, who created Pop Up Ave’s sign.
For the returning vendor, it’s a new variation on the event’s eclectic theme. For others like Cao, the day itself will be a novel experience.
The event, free and open to the public, will take place again on Sept. 23 and Dec. 9, with the location to be determined. A list of the event’s vendors can be found on Pop Up Ave’s website.
“I’m looking forward to engaging with the people there,” Cao said.