Photo Essay: Circa Vintage Ware, New Bedford, MA

Chris Duval, owner of Circa Vintage Ware

New Bedford, city by the sea, how did I not love thee? That was back when I was a hot shot, 17-year-old skate betty/straight edge/aspiring writer/punk/artiste/know-it-all. I wanted to be gone and as soon as I graduated, I left and went to school in Boston. I did know, even then, that there were a few cool things in New Bedford and one of them was Circa Vintage Ware. Back n the 90s, it was in a cute little store front in a neighboring town, Fairhaven. My friends and I would often go in and try on lots of dresses, boas, sunglasses and hats and probably annoy the hell out of Chris Duvall, the owner. My drama club would rent costumes from him and when prom season came, and I knew there was one place to go to assert my obnoxious "alternativeness," Circa. The vintage raspberry cotton lace dress I wore to my junior prom was a hit and something I would still actually wear. (And hey! I can still fit into it!)

Fast forward about a decade, a move a few states away and I'm now working at House Industries. Through a weird twist of fate, Chris contacts me at work with an inquiry about the Neutra chair. After a trip home, Chris, my husband and I became friends, and every time we come back to New Bedford, we stop by for a visit.

Now that New Bedford is a bit hipper, and I am a bit older, it doesn't seem so bad to me anymore. The downtown area is buzzing with young creative energy and great eateries. A few years ago, Circa moved to New Bedford into a larger space inside the New England Demolition & Salvage Building (another great store to visit when you are in the city). Chris has thousands of pieces from several decades for sale. He's got everything from casual t-shirts to 1940s suits. There are racks of vintage prom and bridesmaids dresses, stacks of hat boxes, rows of worn-in cowboy boots, cases of sparkly jewelry and one-of-a-kind outerwear. Though Circa's outfitted movies and has received press from major newspapers and magazines, it still feels like a hidden gem. I can only imagine if the store was in Brooklyn, it would be swarming with fashionistas and everything would be double the price.

If you find yourself on the Southcoast of Massachusetts, make sure you make time to shop at Circa. Then stop by downtown and grab a burrito at No Problemo and walk around on the cobblestone streets that I cursed as a kid, but now find so endearing.

Circa Vintage Ware
(inside New England Demolition & Salvage)
73 Cove Street
New Bedford, MA 02744
(508) 997-9390

PS! More pics of Circa on my Flickr page.

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