Jennifer Tsakis, owner of Saugerties’ Pop Vintage Antiques, has been in the antique business for 24 years, starting out in a three-foot-wide antique booth in Annapolis, Maryland, to now selling fun, affordable finds from the 50s to the 80s at her 106 Partition Street location.
Tsakis is originally from Somers in Westchester County. She grew up with a love for fashion, and her parents had an interest in antique and vintage finds. To this day, Tsakis remembers the first antique she ever bought, which was a “little tin thing that winds up,” that cost just a nickel. Often her mom would bring her to thrift shops and yard sales to see what they could find. Initially, she wasn’t a big fan.
“We’d come home with all of this cool stuff,” said Tsakis. “On the weekends when my dad was home, we’d go out driving and go to antique shops. I grew up not loving antiques because our house was filled with them and my dad restored antique cars. I grew up around everything being old, and that’s how I got used to it.”
However, she grew to love vintage items and decided to make the search for them her life’s work.
“I do it because it’s fun for me,” said Tsakis. “I love the hunt for things. I love driving all over and just finding things. When you find that thing that you think is so cool, it’s just a great feeling. Then when you sell that item to somebody that’s so excited that they’re finding it, that’s what keeps me going.”
After living in Maryland and Virginia, Tsakis moved back to the Hudson Valley in 2012. She worked at Castaways in Woodstock for four years, which is mostly focused on vintage clothing, and also sold items at Mower’s Flea Market.
She became a store owner for the first time on Tinker Street in Woodstock in 2016. Tsakis’ time there was short-lived due to the building being sold. She then relocated to Main Street in Saugerties in 2017. When the same thing happened and the second building was sold, she was ready to find a place that would do a long-term lease where she could create more permanent roots.
In November of last year, she heard about the current location, which has two floors. Her cousin, Chris Tsakis, was also looking to own a vintage shop, so the building’s layout offered the perfect opportunity for them to go in on it together.
“My cousin was coming up from New Jersey [when I went to look at the store] and he said well, can I look at it with you,” said Tsakis. “I said yeah and he told me he was thinking of opening a store. This place has two floors, so I said alright. It was nothing I ever thought about doing.”
The pair opened the doors in December to catch the holiday rush.
Upstairs is Jeniffer’s store, which has a myriad of fun finds, including clothing, art, jewelry, fabrics, and housewares. Down the spiral stairs is Chris’ store, That Cave, which has antique toys, instruments, records, and more. While the pair have never worked together before, and didn’t grow up that close, their stores complement each other well.
Today, Tsakis still curates her store by visiting local yard sales, just as she did with her mom growing up. In her free time she finds herself mapping out the best spots to visit and creates an itinerary for when she will visit each throughout the day. She said she never feels like she takes a break from searching. Any time she’s out and about for any reason, if she sees a pile of finds, she heads over to see if there is anything good. She never buys anything online.
While she had to bounce around from one place to another before settling in at her current location, she imagines she will stay put for a while.
“When people come in here, I want it to be fun and affordable,” said Tsakis about the store. “It’s nice people actually come up and say that everything is well priced and not too expensive. I hated going into a vintage or antique store and you realize you can’t afford anything. That’s my main goal.”
Tsakis likes to teach customers about the history of the items she sells, especially younger people.
“I love that people are usually happy when they leave here,” said Tsakis. “I want it to be a place where they forget about everything for a little while and just enjoy themselves.”