5 Boutique Babes Show Us Their Stellar Style & Top Oakland Haunts

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on November 28.]
If you’re wondering where all the artists, band babes, and real hipsters vanished to, don't worry. They’re all still alive and well, they just fled en masse over the Bay Bridge. Ah yes, Oakland — a magnetic hotbed exploding with effortless eccentricity and relatively affordable rent. And defining the East Bay style scene on Piedmont Avenue is one of our favorite consignment shops, Mercy Vintage Now. Owners and expert curators Karen Anderson and Jenny Velte — along with a team of dreamy shop girls — are definitely the cream of the vintage crop.
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So, we thought it only right to have these vixens show us around the up-and-coming 'hood. Get ready for some copy-worthy style as we stroll from a hideaway packed with fashion rags all the way to a breathtaking local cemetery (we promise, it's more pretty than creepy). Take it from us, these girls know what we like! 


Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Ready to meet the savvy ladies of Mercy Vintage Now, and see where they trot around town? The boutique babes in front of the shop, from left: Katie Petersen, Jenny Velte, Ava Anderson, Karen Anderson, and Rachel Cubra. Now, let’s go for a fashionable stroll!

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Owners Jenny Velte (left) and Karen Anderson (right) post up and greet us in Mercy Vintage Now!

Jenny wears a Jess Feury dress, necklace made by a friend, another necklace by Jacqueline Rose, and a vintage bracelet. Karen sports a leather Yves Saint Laurent top, Issey Miyake skirt and jacket, vintage ankle boots, earrings and ring from Esqueleto, vintage rings, Kelly Wearstler cuff, and Jess Feury bracelet.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Racks and racks of vintage-y goodness.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Name: Jenny Velte

Hood: Golden Gate in North Oakland

Gig: Owner

Tell us more about Mercy Vintage Now.
"Mercy could be likened to a museum of beautiful, rare, and unique things from here and anywhere, while simultaneously being a house party of women and men of all ages just having fun with clothes. It's truly a unique experience being here. Something you have to see for yourself.

"

What’s your all-time favorite score from the store?
"A '20s hand-embroidered metallic-thread vest."

How did the shop come to be?
"Karen had a vintage shop in Berkeley called Dolled Up Vintage, and I used to sell to her regularly. One day, out of the blue, she called and asked if I wanted to buy it — she thought I'd be the perfect person to take over. I thought about it, but frankly, I was terrified. I had been managing a vintage shop for a few years, and had just quit ... but I knew I still wanted to be in vintage. Dolled Up Vintage was an amazing place, but the location was off-the-beaten path.

So, instead I proposed we partner, but re-open somewhere where people could really see us. About a month later, we found the space on Piedmont Avenue and literally drafted a partnership agreement overnight. It was crazy, trial by fire. We had every member of our families pitch in, from scraping paint to hanging the racks, and managed to put the shop together in a month. A serious labor of love. But it happened so organically, we knew we'd done something great." 


Jenny hangs out in one of her fave Piedmont Avenue haunts (besides her own shop), Good Stock, in a Jess Feury dress, necklace made by a friend, another necklace by Jacqueline Rose, and a vintage bracelet.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Who are your style icons?
"No one person in particular, although I always want to see what Dana Olsen, owner of Good Stock, is wearing. She makes dressing look effortless. And of course, Karen, my business partner, always inspires me. But mostly, it's our customers. Every time I'm at the shop I find myself asking, 'Where did you find that?' or 'Who made those boots?'" 


What are some vintage trends that are having a modern moment?
"Furs — any kind. On collars, as wraps, and coats. Eighties cropped sweaters and tops with pleated cropped trousers. Anything ethnic is always in demand as well."


What are some of your favorite local haunts?
"Actual Cafe in the Golden Gate district where I live — best frittatas and tator tots in town, and a great group of people behind the counter. The Temescal Farmers' Market on Sunday — great food and people watching, plus it's right next to my favorite park, Frog Park."



Piedmont seems to be exploding right now, what are you most excited about?
"The possibilities. We would love to see our little block explode into a real shopping destination. We think it can happen now."

A close up of Jenny's delicate accessories and rad tat!

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Have Mercy! Jenny and Karen's cool clothing shop in all its glory. Can we have it all?

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Name: Karen Anderson

Hood: Trestle Glen
 in Oakland
Gig: Owner


Describe a day in the life at Mercy Vintage Now.
"Every day is different. Lately, I've been getting ready for A Current Affair vintage show in L.A., pulling holiday looks for our upcoming pop-up shop at McMullen, and styling and shooting for our blog and web shop."

What’s your all-time favorite score from the store?
"It's a tie between a quilted Chanel bag and a Patrick Kelly dress."

What designers and styles can people expect to find at the shop?
"We carry old and new designers from James Galanos, Ceil Chapman, Pauline Trigere, and Bonnie Cashin to Yves Saint Laurent, Kenzo, Courreges, and Comme des Garçons. We also have started to buy newer designers like Rick Owens, Isabel Marant, and Ann Demeulemeester. I think the common thread for us is that the clothes have to have a beautiful style element, often something unexpected, and are well made. Right now, we are feeling deconstructed silk '90s dresses, hand-knit cotton and silk sweaters, paper-thin tees, and all things leather."

Karen posing in front of the greatest magazine shop around — Issues. She sports a leather Yves Saint Laurent top, Issey Miyake skirt and jacket, vintage ankle boots, earrings and ring from Esqueleto, vintage rings, Kelly Wearstler cuff, and Jess Feury bracelet.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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How would you describe your style?
"My style evolves all the time. I generally lean toward the unexpected and, as of late, it has included a lot of Kansai Yamamoto."


Do you have any insider vintage shopping tips you care to share?
"Start collecting Carole Little and Chico's! They will be vintage before you know it and you will have a head start!"


What do you love about Oakland right now?
"I love that there are a lot of innovative, creative, and motivated people opening small businesses in Oakland. Honestly, I often shop outside of the area, but I am finding more and more that my money is staying in Oakland!"


What are some of your favorite local haunts?
"I think admitting that I have a self-imposed ban from Esqueleto speaks volumes."

We spy Lula! Oh, and another sweet tattoo and steppers.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Name: Ava Anderson
Hood: West Oakland
Gig: Shop girl and buyer 


How did you get your job at Mercy Vintage Now and how long have you been there?
"I've been working for Karen, who is my aunt, since I was 13, starting at her old shop, Dolled Up Vintage. She started by having me help out and paying me in clothes. I've worked at Mercy since we opened three and a half years ago."


What do you love about Oakland right now?
"It seems like I hear people talking about Oakland without mentioning San Francisco. I like that Oakland's identity is a little more developed and positive."

Piedmont seems to be exploding, what are you most excited about?
"A lot of the shops that have been opening up are places I want to shop. The focus of clientele has really shifted."

Ava in front of the quaint Piedmont Cinema in a Job & Boss top, vintage skirt, Yves Saint Laurent shoes, bracelets, earrings, and rings.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Who are your style icons?
"Bret Michaels, Selena, and Beyoncé. I have no shame."

Where can we find you when you aren't working?
"In the library at Mills studying, on International Boulevard eating tacos, or running in Tilden or around the lake."

What's your favorite part about working at the shop?
"When a customer finds something perfect, and everyone in the store gets really excited, all at the same time. Also, I love working with these ladies! We have so much fun. Easy access to amazing vintage doesn't hurt either."

YSL baubles? Don't mind if we do!

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Name: Katie Petersen
Hood: Temescal in Oakland
Gig: Shop girl

What’s your favorite part about working at the shop?
"Working at Mercy is a vintage hoarder’s dream. I’m greeted with piles of new treasures every time I open the door, and am consistently inspired by the ways that our customers incorporate them into their wardrobes to reflect their personal style."

How would you describe your style? "As amorphous and changeable as my mind."

What are some vintage trends that are having a modern moment?
"Anything that Rayanne Graff might have worn on My So-Called Life."

Katie kicks it in Mercy Vintage Now with some sole-ful pals in a vintage kimono, bracelet and ring, Zero + Maria Cornejo dress, Cacharel shoes, and Urban Outfitters earrings.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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What’s your all-time favorite score from the store?
"This printed Japanese kimono. The styling possibilities are endless!"


Do you have any insider vintage shopping tips you care to share?
"If you’re prompted to ask, 'Is this hideous or beautiful?' then you should most definitely go for it!"

What do you love about Oakland right now?
"That I never cease to find new people and places that make me smile with the ways they own their Oakland-ness without subscribing to any notions of being 'the next Brooklyn' — or whatever the city planners and loft builders would have us believe!"

What are some of your favorite local haunts?
"Grizzly Peak, for its pristine view of my favorite city, Issues for its exhaustive supply of printed inspiration, Actual Cafe for a cup of coffee and an inevitable run-in with a neighborhood friend. Camino for its mouth-watering menu and unpretentious atmosphere, and Urban Ore for its acres of junk just waiting to be rescued."

Prints on prints!

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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Name: Rachel Cubra

Hood: North Oakland

Gig: Manager


How did you get your job at Mercy Vintage Now and how long have you been there?

"I worked with Jenny at Sharks for years. I was living in Austin when she and Karen opened Mercy and would work at the shop when I came to visit. I started working here full-time as soon as I moved back to Oakland. That was a little over three years ago.

"

What's your favorite part about working at the shop?
"
Buying is always fun, you never know what will walk into the shop at any given time. Uniting people with a piece they love is really rewarding, and seeing what people gravitate toward is so interesting and unpredictable."

Rachel in one of her favored locales, Mountain View Cemetery, in a vintage fur vest, crochet dress from Mercy, shoes from James Rowland, Prism of Threads top, necklace made by her boyfriend, rings from the flea market and a Space Cactus ring from Reliquary, and earrings from Esqueleto. 



Photographed by Maria del Rio
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How would you describe your style? 

"My friends and my man like to refer to it as 'wacky art-school teacher.' I wish I could protest, but I think it's often a pretty accurate description.

"

What's your all-time favorite score from the store?
"Rainbow rhinestone and silver sky-high platforms from the '70s. They are on display in my apartment.

"

What are some vintage trends that are having a modern moment?
"
The Mad Men '60s trend is still going strong. And I see the '70s boho-biker look everywhere.

"

We're in love with Rachel's badass rings.

Photographed by Maria del Rio
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