Today I walked into NVISION with two Metropole omelets, broccoli beignets, and a couple of Happy Gilmores, and sat down to have lunch with proprietor Emily Buddendeck. NVISION is an independently owned and singularly operated retail shop that specializes in vintage, secondhand, handmade, and designer clothing, accessories, and furnishings, as well as rotating displays of local art.
Before entering the store, you notice the 4 large storefront windows and the displays that inhabit them. “Merchandising the window displays is one of the best parts of my job!” says Buddendeck. “I change them out seasonally and for special holidays like the next one, the 4th of July, which is like Christmas in July for Northside with its famously fun annual parade and Rock n Roll Carnival.” Additionally, there are mannequins placed on the sidewalk by the entrance, adorned in eye-catching fashions of yesteryear that draw in passersby who pull over for a better look and then are shocked by the nostalgic wonders within the two floors of the store. “I often get compliments on the window displays from people in the area stating that the cheerful displays are one of their favorite things to enjoy in the neighborhood.”
When asked about the store’s typical customer, I was surprised to hear that there isn’t one. While the shop draws people from the neighborhood who have become regulars and enjoy Buddendeck’s personalized attention and staggering ability to remember their tastes, sizing, and names, there are also plenty of out-of-towners who come in looking for treasures along the Northside Vintage Trail (Northside is home to several vintage shops). The store also attracts Japanese vintage clothing dealers who come in to buy up Americana fashion to send back home, as well as Hollywood costumers and set dressers working on the latest productions being filmed in the city, and of course, fashionistas of all ages, looking for something “different”. That’s the common thread among NVISION’s customers, they want to stand out from uniformity.
“Sundays are my favorite day at the shop because people go to brunch next door at The Comet, and then stop in here afterward, and it makes for a fabulous day date for friends and families. I often get to join in conversations between grandparents, parents, and young children shopping together, and sharing memories associated with the vintage items for sale.” Seeing an item and having context of the time it was made can wildly swing how someone views it. Emily’s available to offer insight on many items in the store, acting as both proprietor and fun fact historian, be it a clothing label, a manufacturer’s mark, or simply sharing a laugh about silly clothing materials labeled as “virgin acrylic.” The store’s musical playlist in the backdrop is another reason to love shopping there, often inspiring spontaneous dancing, singing, and the need to Shazam a song to add to your own personal playlist. “People often tell me I should sell CD’s of my playlist or have a side gig as a DJ. And I actually do have a DJ name for my playlist, DJMCMLXXIII, just for fun, everyone should have a DJ name.” And Buddendeck tells me that “FUN” is the most commonly used word from customers when commenting on the shop’s atmosphere.
Emily named the store NVISION (a stylized version of the word envision) because it means imagine. This store is imagination personified. “You can envision a piece of furniture in your home, envision wearing a particular combination of garments to a special event, or envision altering a garment to suit your personal style.” Emily offers style advice, clothing alterations, and custom fitting for an added bonus, noting that “Every body is different. There is nothing wrong with your body just because a garment doesn’t fit properly, it simply means that the garment’s average sizing isn’t tailored to your unique body type. Some people are big on top and small on the bottom, or vice versa. I can help!” If you buy the garment there, the alterations are included so long as it’s not a complete overhaul. And she also offers clothing alterations and repair of garments from your own personal closet. Emily has a wealth of seamstress and alterations experience, going back to middle school when she was gifted a collection of vintage hand-me-down clothes that she was allowed to do with as she pleased, and began reimagining clothing and learning clothing construction through a process of trial and error, taking garments apart and reconstructing them in experimental ways. Many years of this type of experimentation and sewing experience has honed her skills to now work on everything from altering swimsuits to business suits, uniforms to bridal gowns, and even gorilla suits (the latter being her strangest sewing job to date). Signs are posted in the fitting rooms help ease the anxiety that fitting rooms create, stating “Like the look but not the fit, hemline, sleeve-length, or neckline? Ask about having it done here!”
From cast iron animal doorstops, 1950s lamps, Pyrex casserole dishes, Italian pottery, kitschy ashtrays, and enough clothes to satisfy any generational fashion obsession, the store’s wall and table displays let you know right away that your drinkware can be your conversation starter, and your sofa can be the design centerpiece of your home. The beauty of a vintage shop is finding that product that is 50+ years old and still looks fresh, you can be assured of its staying power, as well as its durability. And in the age of Fast Fashion and quick seams, it’s comforting to know that it is possible to find clothing that not only lasts but has the ability to be updated for modern tastes.
Located in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood, just north of the business district on Hamilton Ave, and next to the long-standing popular Comet bar, NVISION is the perfect jump off spot for a journey into Cincinnati’s unofficial “creative capital,” offering a wide selection from which to choose a souvenir with plenty of items that will fit in your suitcase, your pocket, or you can have Emily ship it to you at home. The variety of men’s cufflinks and tie clips, women’s jewelry, silk scarves, sunglasses, and hats is amazing, and the high-end formalwear in the basement is inspiring. Stop in and find what you didn’t know was missing in your life.