Four Questions with Jarrett Zerrer of Nuono Vintage, Northwest Philly’s latest haven for vinyl and a lot more
When we first met Philly’s Jarrett Zerrer, he was playing guitar in Philly-based electro-rock bands like Dokument and City Rain. These days, he’s put the axe down and picked up a knack for all things vintage — clothes, books, and especially classic vinyl. Working with family members, Zerrer co-operates Nuono Vintage, an online retailer based in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood, in the cavernous back room of the Sedgwick Theater.
If this was 1921, that room would be filled with velvety seats and an audience watching a vaudeville production — it’s where the Sedgwick’s original stage sat, and a massive decorative skylight and ornate architectural trim still line the roof. Today, though, it’s six-foot-high stacks of boxes, lined in a maze-like array that looks befuddling to me as a visitor, but which makes perfect sense to Zerrer.
Nuono Vintage has been in this space for a little bit over a year, buying collections (and taking donations) as well as making sales via online avenues, promoting on social media — they’ve got a great Instagram — and occasionally venturing out into the real world, like they will this weekend for a sidewalk sale on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. We paid a visit to Nuono Vintage to see what treasures lied within and get Zerrer’s story on unearthing the past.
The Key: How did you make the transition from playing music to running Nuono Vintage?
Jarrett Zerrer: Since I was a kid, I had been surrounded by antiques. My mom, Nancy, ran a vintage shop in Glenside not far from the Keswick Theater and I would help out here and there. Over the years I worked for small moving companies to give myself a flexible schedule to be a musician. I’ve always enjoyed the hustle and slowly learned the ropes of the business from my mom. Now we work together and the business and our relationship is stronger than ever.
I still play music and write music and still have a strong passion for it. Right now I’m essentially running a small record shop on top of everything else we sell. So I can’t stay away from music one way or the other. Haha.
TK: This stuff in your warehouse is an awesome array, where does it come from?
JZ: The stuff comes from all over. Estate sales, cleanouts, yard sales, random online posts. You often need to drop some good money on quality things and it’s a lot of hard heavy lifting work to take on. Sometimes we’ll get a large haul of stuff and some of it’s junk. But you gotta take the good with the bad. Such is life.
TK: Since you’re not a traditional walk-in storefront, how have you connected with customers?
JZ: We’re an online shop that does local pickup, appointments and occasional sales. We connect with our local customer via Instagram and Facebook mostly. If someone sees an item they want they can send us a message to purchase, schedule a time to pickup or rummage around to find more things. We’re constantly bringing in so much that there’s always plenty of new arrivals to find. We have Discogs, Etsy and eBay shops that you can follow. Always willing to pull things offline for local customers. We give way better deals to our local Philly peeps.
TK: What are some ways you’re hoping to break down that divide between online retail and the real world?
JZ: We enjoy meeting our customers. There’s a disconnect when you purchase things online. But for our local customers, we can message them when we get things in that they’re looking for. We work around people’s schedules and even hook other dealers up with crazy good prices. Many things that people pay $30 for online they can easily get in our space for $5. We’re a wholesale space where dealers are welcome.
Nuono Vintage will hold a sidewalk sale on Saturday, August 26th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 7138 Chew Avenue in Mt. Airy.