Chicago is chock-a-block with vintage and craft shows this time of year, as holiday shoppers hope to score a gift that doesn’t still have the Target price tag attached. Saturday’s sale at Beehive Chicago will be a little bit different, though. It’s not just that it’s the first weekend sale for the 6-month-old vintage store. It’s that every vendor calls the space their office.
Robyn Witt opened Beehive Chicago with her partner Joe Moore in June after struggling to find a space big enough to house their antiquing business, Take 2 Vintage.
“We have a four bedroom house in Logan Square … with a full basement. And it’s pretty full,” Witt says. “We got a studio in Avondale at the Art Colony, which was great, but it was only 200 square feet [for $360 a month]. And we couldn’t even really back up far enough to take a good picture of furniture for Craigslist.”
So Witt found a core group of vintage furniture, clothes and knickknack sellers looking to share space and swap ideas. Stuffed in a warehouse on the West Side, Beehive Chicago is now home to nine vendors. The group splits the $2,200 a month rent, plus utilities and maintenance fees based on square footage, giving them rates lower than they would otherwise get.
The first time Kayla Benedict and Erick Pausz, the furniture makers Shark Gravy, visited the space, they were just hoping to keep an open mind. Then they heard rent on the a 400-square-foot space would be $200. “We said, ‘We have to do this, it’s totally worth it,’” Benedict says.
Witt isn’t satisfied with simply co-working. She hopes to transform the space into a full-service storage, shooting and shipping facility for vintage vendors, though an Indiegogo campaign failed to deliver enough funds for a professional photo rig.
Saturday’s sale is one way she wants to raise money to make her plans happen. Four guest vendors will have pop-up shops in the space, each paying 10 percent of sales to Beehive. Witt also has a few rentals scheduled for the coming months, hosting both a photo shoot and a class for a fee. With enough funds, Witt hopes to offer community outreach programs and vendor educational seminars. The building is mostly empty, giving Witt dreams of an expansion.
Even if it stays in its current incarnation as a co-working space, however, it’s still a pretty big deal for the nine vendors currently using it.
“It’s totally transformed our business,” Pausz says.
“Just for the space,” Benedict says. “We can step back and see everything.”
Beehive Chicago’s holiday market takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Beehive Chicago, 2958 W. Carroll St., Ste 3S.
ABOVE: Joe Moore and Robyn Witt, founders of Beehive Chicago. Photo by Leilani Wertens/The Thriftaholic.com