If you live in the western suburbs of Chicago, it is quite possible you have visited a very cute and quaint boutique that goes by the name of Vintage Charm. It’s one of those shops where when you walk in you feel like you have entered a wonderland of textures, sparkles, cozy wear, incredible accessories, charming home decor, and friendly faces. When it comes to those friendly faces, there is one that always comes to mind when we think of our go-to boutique and it belongs to the woman behind the shop, Nancy Allodi.
We’ve been following Nancy’s career since she opened up her first boutique in LaGrange in 2002. We’ve watched her brand grow as Vintage Charm became a household name.
It goes something like this:
Let’s swing by Vintage Charm real quick on the way to the party, I need to grab a hostess gift.
Ughh! I have nothing to wear tonight, I need to run to Vintage Charm.
Did you see all the cute freaking sweaters at Vintage Charm?! Omg.
I have nothing to do…I’m going to go to Vintage Charm.
Nancy, who is a mom of four boys and grandmother to one grandson, has curated one of the cutest boutiques for all the females (and significant others on the quest for the perfect gift) of the western suburbs of Chicago…and then some. There are now two Vintage Charm locations open in Indiana.
When it comes to inspiration, Nancy’s love for her community, her shops, and her family, inspires us to the moon and back. We are thrilled to share with you our chat with one of our hometown’s very own charms, Nancy Allodi.
TSP: Nancy, we are so inspired by you. We remember when you opened your first shop. Now you have five! When did you know you were ready to open Vintage Charm in LaGrange?
Nancy: I didn’t really have this big dream, it just kind of evolved. I’ve always loved vintage and would often go to shows. One day I decided to start doing shows at my home. I did that twice. Two days before my second show my father passed away. The show still went on with the help of my friends while I attended to family matters.
Eventually, I rented a booth at Jackson Hall in Lagrange. From there, it evolved even more. That’s where it all started. The business really took off when we moved into our corner store in LaGrange.
Location. Location. Location.
We started out mainly vintage, then came more clothes and even more retail. I learned fast that you may start in one direction but to be ready to evolve with the times and in other directions.
TSP: What drives you on a daily basis?
Nancy: I really enjoy going to work and I enjoy what I am doing. I look forward to getting up and going into the store. Although, the staff is so great that I really don’t have to go in every day.
TSP: What is the most challenging part of being a shop owner?
Nancy: Running the shops day-to-day, especially with multiple locations open. It’s important I make sure each store is represented well. Also, the more you have the more you sell, but that can be scary. I’m working with a consultant for the first time in fifteen years and Vintage Charm is stocking up!
Sometimes it’s about winging it.
You learn as you go. If you’re too conservative while buying for a shop, you can miss out on making money. At the same time, you don’t want to go overboard. You learn what item works best in which location. For example, in LaGrange, pom-pom hats are a huge hit. The more I buy, the more I sell. You learn which products do best over time.
TSP: How do you move past any fears or challenges you encounter along the way?
Nancy: Everyone goes through periods of fear and struggle. For me, shows can be really overwhelming. You need to listen to yourself and do what is best for you. I realize that, for me, New York shows are more my pace than some of the others. You realize these things over time.
Other struggles…sometimes I have guilt at times because of all the stores. Should I be home more or doing more for myself? But I love what I do.
TSP: Who is one of your biggest supporters?
Nancy: My husband, Kevin. He takes care of all the tech stuff for every store and never complains.
TSP: If you could share one piece of business advice with our readers, what would it be?
Nancy: The biggest thing is to be patient. You can have the best product ever, but it still takes a while to build a business.
Make sure whatever you do, it plays to your strengths.
You must have the capability to stick with it and remember that most businesses are not an overnight success.
TSP: What do you love most about having your shops?
Nancy: Our involvement in the community where we’ve raised our kids. I’ve crossed paths with so many people I would have never met otherwise and they’re so kind and complimentary.
I also really love having two of my nieces help run one of my stores which, in turn, has helped our relationships flourish–not only between my nieces and me but between the two of them as well.
TSP: What is your go-to outfit/style like?
Nancy: Jeans. Denim. I’m always wearing Lilly and Laura bracelets and I like cute shoes. I’m pretty simple, but I have to be comfortable or I’m not happy.
TSP: If you could have coffee, tea, or wine with any woman, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Nancy: My mom. For the obvious reasons. Just to spend another day with her….
TSP: When you’re not being a total bad ass woman, what do you do on your downtime?
Nancy: I love being outside. I grew up on a farm so being outdoors feels very natural to me. I love taking my grandson, Beau, for walks–most of my childhood was spent in nature.
Sometimes I just walk around and take pictures of trees, flowers, and sunsets. We’re big bird watchers too.
TSP: What message of inspiration do you have for any women out there who are looking to move forward with a dream of theirs, but just need a little more push?
Nancy: I think one thing you have to figure out is if the timing is right. I started this at age 45 and I have enjoyed it. I didn’t have little ones at home so it worked for me.
You have to ask yourself: Can you balance it? Are you passionate about it? You don’t want to create a situation where you create a lot of guilt for yourself.
Taking that leap of faith and really doing your homework. Owning a business is never as glamorous as it may appear. Be prepared for all sides of it.
TSP: What feeds your soul?
Nancy: Music really feeds my soul, it really does. I love music. And I like all kinds. Ever since I was little, if I sit and listen to a great song, it just takes me away. I love Leone Bridges.
Sitting outside in Michigan, watching the sunset, and listening to music with my boys is probably my favorite thing in the world.
TSP: Tell us one thing many people may not know about you? (Sidenote: this story cracked me up. We had a good laugh over this one.)
Nancy: Hmmm, ok. I was a teacher for a couple years and I grew up on a farm in Indiana. We had cows and pigs, corn and beans. I had a pony.
My dad raised the pigs and I was his assistant at 5-years-old. When it came time to vaccinate the piglets, I had to hold them by the legs upside-down while my father gave them their vaccination…I loved every minute of it!
(In conversation, Nancy shared one more tidbit of wisdom that we love and want to share with you all.)
We all just need to try, every day, to be more compassionate and kind. Sounds hokey, but it’s so true. Try to chill and relax. Everybody has something.
Such a good reminder as we head into the holiday season. Thank you for your sharing your wisdom, love of fashion, community and shopping with us all, Nancy. Vintage Charm is truly one of a kind.
Please check out Vintage Charm’s Instagram, just be prepared to want to shop.
To check out Vintage Charm’s website, go here.