The Vintage Lady brings artistic items to historic Harpers Ferry.
When her husband retired as a professor at Marietta College, Cindi Dunn decided that if she wanted to do something besides working as superintendent of a school system in Ohio, now was the time.
The couple moved to Harpers Ferry and she began working at a local jewelry store. When the store closed, she bought the place and reopened it in February 2004 as “The Vintage Lady,” named for her vintage jewelry side business that had already gained a strong following at local craft shows.
The store originally had barely any items made in the United States. Dunn knew she wanted that to change. She and her husband set out to find not only American artists but especially artists from West Virginia. “We were working on making the shop our own and slowly evolving,” she says.
Then, on July 23, 2015, a large fire tore through Harpers Ferry’s historic section, destroying two residences and eight businesses, including The Vintage Lady. Dunn refused to let it discourage her. Just hours after the fire, she called her insurance company and the owner of an empty store farther down the street that was untouched by the disaster.
Starting completely from scratch, The Vintage Lady reopened in a new space just six weeks later. “The fire allowed us to reinvent ourselves and take the shop in the direction we wanted it to be, which was supporting as many West Virginian and American artists as we could,” Dunn says.
Now, the store sells jewelry that Dunn and her employee Crystal Grimsley make by hand, as well as West Virginia beer, wine, and hard cider. There’s West Virginia-made glass from Blenko Glass Company and Appalachian Glass. Dunn sells prints of her photography, as well as ornaments and mugs featuring the images. There are tea towels printed with humorous inscriptions, made by two West Virginia natives now living in Georgia, and apple bakers created by a local potter. Shoppers can also find a selection of West Virginia–produced honey, Bloody Mary mix, spaghetti sauce, and salt.
Customers’ favorite items, however, are the hand-carved coal sculptures. “When you go to the beach, you want to take home seashells, and when you come to West Virginia, you want to take home some coal,” Dunn says.
Dunn prides herself in continually adding more items and artists to the Vintage Lady. “We are constantly trying to make the shop better by bringing in new things,” she says. “We work really hard to keep things unique and moving forward with items you don’t see anywhere else.” 180 High Street, 304.535.1313, thevintagelady.net
written by KRISTEN UPPERCUE
photographed by CARLA WITT FORD