September 30, 2020

Vintage Faire captures couple’s essence

Visionary, friends and family and hard work

By Cathy Welch

Correspondent

York County residents Mark and Jan Wiener served in the U.S. Navy. Subsequently, Mark drove a school bus for York County, worked at Social Services, and drove the Yorktown and Busch Gardens Trolley. Jan retired in 2009 as postmaster for the U.S. Postal Service after 30 years, the last nine serving York County. She became a Master Gardener, leading her to work for Busch Gardens’ Landscape Department.

“We’re workers and wanted to do something as a couple,” Mark explains of their next phase of life.

At one time, Jan worked at a Suffolk auction house, where she learned a lot about antiques.

“I collected quite the menagerie of furniture and glassware there,” she said.

In October 2017, she and Mark were in Nashville and discovered numerous antiques spots on its outskirts.

“I went gaga,” she said. “I’d always talked about owning a vintage shop and Mark asked, ‘Why don’t you do it?’”

For the next year, they went to estate sales and auctions collecting furniture. They leased a space on Route 17 centrally located in the county and five minutes from home. Vintage Faire opened in October 2018.

“That first month we sold every piece of furniture,” Jan said. “The community response blew us away.”

“This has been a friends-and-family event,” Mark said. “We had people storing stuff for us and helping set up.”

Their daughter, Stacy Jarrell, set up the technical side of the business, and a few of their five granddaughters take care of their customers when they’re away.

“A lot of repeat customers come in for the great quality and creativity of their items,” 23-year-old granddaughter Alexis Ruckman said. “People come in seeking a particular item, and they search for something to fit their needs.”

Mark and a friend built Vintage Faire’s checkout counter out of garage door segments.

“I am a firm believer in reuse, recycle,” Jan said.

“She’s a visionary and could see the counter completed,” Mark said. “If you’re not a visionary, all you see is work.”

People appreciate three stand-out aspects of Vintage Faire: their prices, their display style and cleanliness.

“Most people cannot afford to spend $800 to $2,000 on one piece of furniture,” Jan said. “I wanted to offer merchandise at an affordable cost and move it.”

“You can walk around and you’re not overwhelmed,” Mark said of their uncluttered shop.

Mark repurposes baby beds into benches; garden gates into wall hangings; room dividers into display pieces; and more. One special piece at the front of their shop is a favorite and not for sale: a table supported by her great-grandmother’s sewing table bases and a top from shipyard scaffolding and put together by a New Horizons shop class.

Jan visits estate sales and auctions from Virginia Beach to Richmond. She also frequents Habitat for Humanity.

Mark put together a 100-year-old dresser that was in pieces.

“It was in such bad shape that I had to paint it,” Jan explains, though she doesn’t do this unless she has to. “It helps keep items affordable.”

“We have regulars that come in weekly and don’t buy anything,” Mark said. “They want to talk and get ideas.”

Vintage Faire will offer painting classes in January.

“Everybody said they want to paint but they get intimidated,” Jan said. “I look at a piece and almost immediately know what I’m going to do with it,” she said. “I do transfers and stamps that are drop-dead gorgeous.”

As a Master Gardener, Jan always has a garden section and encourages people to become one.

“We’re going to light up York County,” Jan said of bringing their over-the-top Christmas yard display to Vintage Faire. “Part of what I think makes York County great is it’s a tight community. We like to give back anyway we can.”

“We’re having fun as a couple and giving back to the county’s economy,” Mark said. “When people say they needed something like this here, it kind of lights your pews.”

“The shop has so many different pieces to choose from and the prices are quite reasonable,” customer Allie Eschenbach said. “Mark and Jan go the extra mile to make their customers happy.”

Vintage Faire is located at 4909 George Washington Memorial Highway. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 634-9265 for more information.