Among the many businesses centered around Downtown Phoenix is one unique shop that immediately catches the eye. As you walk into Antique Sugar, located on 801 N. 2nd St., Suite 104, vibrant vintage fashion is the first thing you see. From iconic Rick Astley and Harry Potter inspired outfits, to colorful retro statement pieces, the shop is the perfect spot for shoppers who are looking for unique fashion that’s also environmentally conscious.
The shop first opened its doors in its current location in 2015, but its roots date back farther than that.
The owners, best friends Sarah Bingham and Annamarie Sanchez, dreamt of opening their own vintage shop ever since they were teens in the 1990s. The young girls went thrift shopping together every weekend, scouring small town thrift stores and Goodwill’s for interesting and fun clothing items they hoped to put in their future shop.
Fast forward a couple years later and the best friend’s dreams started to become a reality. They started selling their vintage clothing finds on eBay, which eventually led to them opening up a booth in an antique mall. In 2010 they headed to the Melrose District, where they opened up their first brick and mortar shop.
However, the women weren’t happy with the conditions of the building and when a friend offered them a building he was rehabbing in Downtown Phoenix, they were happy to take it. Five years after opening in Melrose, Antique Sugar found its home in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District.
As for what they keep an eye out for while shopping for clothes to sell in the store, Bingham said it’s hard to say. While the women do find some clothing at thrift stores, the majority of their vintage finds comes from estate sales.
“We want wearable clothing; it can’t be too damaged, but we’re really excited if we find something out in the wild that’s like older than the 1960s,” Bingham said. “If I can find something from the 30s or 40s, which almost never happens like at a Goodwill, that’s a really good day.”
Since the clothing is vintage, pricing can be expensive at times and the way in which the owners’ price their clothing has evolved over time. They’ve learnt how to find items from the source and after doing the process for so long, they have a handle on knowing what the going rate for certain items are. If the item is in somebody else’s retail shop, then its already out of their price range, according to Bingham.
Like many other businesses, COVID-19 has impacted the shop. Antique Sugar first closed in March due to the pandemic, reopened in June and then had to close its doors again in July. As a result, the shop relied heavily on online purchases through Instagram and its website. Since they’ve reopened, sales have gone back up approximately 90% in shop and 10% online.
“Every dime of what we made for three months was just Instagram sales, but I think that only increased because we really increased the number of postings that we were doing. That was all of our emphasis- selling online,” Bingham said.
As a shop centered around fashion, inspiration for clothing comes from not only what Bingham has grown up with, but also from her customers. Every day, Bingham is inspired by the people who come into the store and find a purpose for the clothes.
“I get a lot of costume party attendees or people that are in a play and need a period piece, but the people that legit wear this stuff as their style and can like style it really well? Those are the people that inspire me the most,” Bingham said.