It’s 2019, yet today’s street fashion resembles the ’80s. Neon colors, high-waisted pants, windbreakers, and biker shorts are trending once again. But unlike the many resale shops desperately trying to fit this mold, Tuff Vintage, a local 4-year-old online vintage retailer, takes a different approach. With a heavy focus on pop culture, the shop offers clothes, accessories, and decor that span decades, like 1970s Rolling Stone magazines, psychedelic posters, and stone jewelry, to name a few. If it’s a one-of-a-kind item, Griffin and Jake Mouty, the brothers and brains behind Tuff Vintage, probably sell it. To keep their stock fresh, 25-year-old Griffin and 30-year-old Jake buy from thrift stores, wholesale dealers, and flea markets throughout Ohio. This April, the brothers plan to expand their field of search by hopping in their Travelcraft RV for a four-month-long cross-country buying road trip.
In addition to finding the best vintage gems each city has to offer, on the road, the brothers also hope to spread the word about Tuff Vintage. They plan on hosting pop-up shops at planned pit stops, like Atlanta, New Orleans, Nashville, Austin, San Diego, Denver, and Portland. The idea to take a cross-country road trip originally stemmed from the duo’s dreams of visiting popular national parks, museums, and music festivals across the U.S. But as Tuff Vintage began to take root, the trip’s purpose evolved. “The trip is just as much spiritual as it is business motivated,” Griffin says.
Before the brothers hit the road in April, you can catch them on Vine Street at Brick OTR, a rotating pop-up storefront space, where they set up shop two weekends every month. They plan on returning to Brick after their trip, too. Prices are modest, averaging $25 for sweatshirts and jackets, $15 for T-shirts, and $30–$40 for signature brands like Levi’s, GUESS, Tommy Hilfiger, and L.L. Bean. The brothers also sell Tuff Vintage merch on Etsy, and they post regular inventory updates on Instagram.
Aside from material gains, Griffin and Jake hope customers can gain something greater from their Tuff Vintage shopping experiences, “whether that’s the feeling of nostalgia, a great conversation, or a deal they want to tell their friends about,” Griffin says. Buying and selling vintage isn’t just a business model for the Mouty brothers, either. It’s also a way to learn about history and culture and share that with others. “When we find an old T-shirt or vinyl, we’ll dive in and watch a documentary,” Griffin says. “There’s just a lot to learn about the items—they tell more of a story.”