Walking into Kicksville Vinyl and Vintage is a lot like embarking on a treasure hunt. There are finds from different eras and styles around every corner and in every nook thanks to a carefully curated inventory—masterfully assembled by co-owner Laura Matranga—and a larger space due to a vacancy down the hallway from where it all started.
Now in her new and bigger digs, Matranga is excited to embark on this next chapter of the enterprise she and husband Tim Matranga established in the Warehouse Artists Lofts in 2015. It was then that the Matrangas combined forces with Marty DeAnda of Medium Rare Records to turn their passion for vintage into a full-fledged business.
“I’m a lifelong collector, and appreciator of old stuff and funky things that are just interesting and well-designed and unique,” Laura explains. “I’ve been a collector since I was a kid, and the collecting ended up kind of morphing into buying and then reselling over a period of years.”
From their humble beginnings selling their vintage loot at a local antique mall just as a hobby and a side hustle, to tapping into their entrepreneurial prowess and launching Kicksville, the two quickly realized that their passion, combined with their formidable inventory of vintage wares, was set to outpace the confines of the small footprint of their retail space in the WAL Public Market.
“We started here at the Market and everything started out great, then we just kept growing and growing, which is great,” Laura explains. “I made it work in there; I was doing my vintage housewares and furniture and Tim did records and it was a great combination, [but] I just ran out of space. I had 100 square feet in Kicksville, maybe. There were so many records to look at, and I don’t think people were seeing everything that I had to offer because it was getting lost among all of the records and music stuff.”
While having only been in her own space since March 9, Laura says she’s already observed a marked transformation in the way that her customers interact with the eclectic offerings she’s assembled. Staying true to her aesthetic, the store offers a rotating stock of affordable, fun and funky vintage furniture, art, housewares and decorative items.
“People are seeing it differently than they were down the hall and they’re responding to it differently, too,” Laura says. “It’s been really positive, like the colors jump out at people—the colors, the style, the color of the wood grain in the furniture you can see because there’s natural light in here, versus the other store that was a little bit dark. It was mostly music based so there have definitely been positive changes.”
Laura, who is well-versed in the finer nuances of color and design due to her education and experience in the corporate world as a graphic designer, says that owning her own business not only provides her with the freedom to explore and manifest her own creativity, but to connect with the customers that breathe life into her store.
“It’s nice to get to know people and what they’re looking for, what they’re into, and having repeat business like we do—we have numerous repeat customers,” she beams. “It really is nice to know your customer base; you know people by their first names, you know what’s going on in their lives, it’s a personal connection that I like having. When you own your own business, it is more personal.”
Bringing that personal touch into the store is Laura’s strength—drawing from her experience in graphic design, the designer-turned-vintage maven has created a dynamic and engaging chamber of objects that lure the customer in with her eye for combining color, texture, pattern and shape. With intentionality and creative use of space, she sets vintage lovers on a voyage of exploration that leads them through a menagerie of visually engaging and surprising elements that entices them to explore the space.
“I like juxtaposing different styles together, different decades together, different eras,” she explains “I like mixing things up so it’s eclectic—like positioning wood grain against a color piece from the ‘60s, or something really bright, or a natural piece of pottery or just to give the store some depth and texture so it visually looks interesting, too. It’s engaging; it gets people thinking. I like activating the space, making it interesting, making it fun.”
As a curator of all things fun and eclectic, Laura says she is always on the hunt for new objects to bring into her collection of offerings to her vintage-savvy clients. And while many of the pieces that she unearths on her many treasure-hunting expeditions are discovered on her own, she is quick to offer that some of those incredible treasures find their way into her collection through the connections she has with others who are just as passionate about the vintage lifestyle.
“I travel a lot, I do estate sales, I network with other dealers and other antique pickers, too. The stuff comes from everywhere it’s not just one source,” Laura says. “I like meeting people in this industry because there is a community of people who do this for a living and we all kind of know each other. I think it’s good to support each other and that way, too, if I don’t have a certain furniture piece, I can refer a customer to someone else who might have it. So it’s not just all about me and my store, it’s about other people, too.”
For those new to the vintage game and looking to up the ante on their personal decor, Laura has these sage words of advice.
“Figure out what you like, then kind of style around that,” she says. “I personally like eclectic better than one thing or one particular style. Like, my house is extremely eclectic—we have antique pieces, family pieces, Danish-modern pieces, flea market stuff, stuff my neighbors threw away. I like to mix it up and I like the store to look like that, too.”
With a collection as vast as the Matrangas’—Tim’s collection alone is a towering behemoth that includes over 8,000 records—Kicksville’s vintage goddess says that restraint is key to ensuring the viability and sustainability of their business.
“I want to keep every single thing I put in here, like, no joke,” Laura admits. “I’ve been doing this for so long that I can let it go—the thing is I want to have nice pieces for the store; if I hung on to everything I wouldn’t have a shop. Sometimes I’ll have things at home for a while and enjoy it for a little bit and then pass it on and sell it or swap things in and out.
“I collect; this isn’t just what I do for a living, it’s what I love,” she continues. “It’s how I decorate my home, it’s how I live my life, it’s what I enjoy. I’m lucky I get to do this in a retail setting.”
And while Laura is a one-woman show—yes, she does all of the branding and marketing work for both the vinyl and vintage storefronts, as well as acquiring and selling her rare finds—she says that in selecting the next space to grow into, she took a calculated risk in moving into a larger space that didn’t overwhelm her in carrying out the daily operations of the store and making the space a welcoming haven for her customers.
“It’s hard, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of tenacity, a lot of work to track this stuff down. You have to put the time in,” she confesses. “A lot of people think that I can just go to a thrift store and load up on everything. It’s not like that; it takes a lot of time and there’s competition. There are other people who do this, too, and everybody wants the cool thing, the cool piece of furniture in their store. It can be challenging to get things. There are dry periods when I may not find much, or everything might sell, and I might not have enough back stock. Anything can happen, but you just have to keep at it, just keep trying.”
Check out Kicksville Vinyl and Vintage’s new home inside the WAL Public Market (1104 R St., Sacramento). The store is open seven days a week. For more info, go to Kicksvilleshop.com, or follow them on Facebook @kicksvilleshop.
**This piece first appeared in print on pages 14 – 15 of issue #288 (March 27 – April 10, 2019)**