My dad describes himself as a semi-professional picker. He goes to thrift stores during his lunch break while in town, and can tell you the exact day and time each store in the Birmingham area gets its new shipment. He has got it down to an art, and if you give him a list of items, he can probably secure them within a month’s time. Anything from year-old camping gear, to once worn brand name items, there are hidden, discarded treasures just waiting to be found.
Manitou Supply Co. presents a master class on thrifting and picking. A quick glance inside their store or on their Etsy site will give you quick validation of both their appeal and curation expertise, and a sense of “man, I wish I would have found that first”.
Manitou takes the nostalgic flair of old and makes it fashionable. Timely, endearing, memorable, ironic- whatever you want to call it- you will find it here. Stepping into the store, you get a real sense of what David and Luciana have a sense of style for, as their collection is an anthropological perspective of the previous decades. Little items we have forgotten, long lost styles, and every day wear line the walls, a reminder of where we came from. The thing I appreciate most about Manitou is their attention to detail and effort it takes to provide a sense of consistency across their collection. Additionally, the local aspect of pieces secured from the Birmingham area is delightful- Alabama and Auburn gear, local high school items, and other Birmingham flair.
Manitou is thrifting, but it’s not a thrift store. It is a carefully curated collection that is rad as hell. Check out their store or find them online. Reminder, many of their more rare items might not be on the front floor. So, if there is something you had seen online, or something that you think they might have- just ask!
Here are a few of Manitou’s more rare items:
More on Manitou in their own words.
Describe your business for me?
Manitou Supply is a vintage retail boutique and online shop that specializes in apparel from the 70’s through the 90’s and is curated by Luciana Giovinazzo and David Brown.
How did you get your start?
I (David) have always enjoyed thrifting and the clothes from decades past. I decided, at some point, that I was good at finding and picking clothes that others would want. I started an Etsy shop in 2009 and it has been growing since. Luciana and I met in 2014 and she really helped Manitou become a full-time gig.
And how has the transition to a brick and mortar store been?
Challenging. Most of our sales are through Etsy. Of course, we love having a shop / studio that houses all of our business. We worked out of our home before and that was difficult. We love being able to give locals the chance to shop our pieces. Honestly, the dream has always been to open our own shop. Everyday we get here and think how awesome it is to have our own curated collection; and then I think, “Ok, let’s get to work.”
What has been your biggest challenge or success so far?
I would say getting into the flow of buying and selling items. We have to be confident that we can buy something for one price and then upsale it to make money. On top of that we have to sell enough in a week or month to pay all of our bills and expenses while also buying new items. Oh and we have a newborn baby!
What made you want to get into selling vintage clothing?
I guess I wanted to make money doing what I love which is thrifting and curating.
What does a typical day look like for you?
We really enjoy our mornings. We get up around 8 with our son and then have a nice breakfast and listen to a record. Then, we start getting ready to head to the shop. We usually get here around 10:30 and get the shop ready to open. Then, we start photographing / uploading items; or pricing things for the racks. Uploading things onto Etsy takes up a lot of our time. Oh and making Instagram posts as well….we have to do that. Sometimes I’ll run errands while she stays at the shop or vice versa. We are open until 7. And Repeat!
Where do you see Manitou Supply Co. growing in the next few years?
We plan on branding newer apparel as Manitou Supply. I could see us eventually having Manitou items in other shops around. We would also like to open another shop that is smaller and in an area with higher foot traffic. After that, maybe branching out to another city. And we have a few vintage reference books that we would like to work on.
What’s your favorite item you’ve sold?
Either a 70’s John Lennon tee or an old Birmingham Stallions t-shirt. I sold them both a few years ago; two rare and memorable shirts.
One fun fact about you?
When I am not running a vintage retail shop, I play in a local band called Wray.
What is your favorite local vendor?
That’s a tough one because there are so many cool people selling things and starting things in Birmingham. Seasick Records might be my favorite local place to shop. I am a record collector so I can spend a good amount of time in there and Daniel Drinkard really invested in Crestwood early on. We also love Yellowhammer Creative, Club Duquette, Sanctum Comics, and Elements. There are so many rad shops in our area now!
Thanks for reading! This has been a Shop Small Bama Feature.
Manitou Supply Co. is David Brown and Luciana Giovinazzo.
You can shop online at www.manitousupply.com
On Instagram @manitousupply
And their Etsy store here.