Yana Pietras and Ian O'Neill of Moth Oddities find vintage items for their shop via the road. That includes traveling through Italy and pretty much everywhere in the U.S.
This weekend, the duo will host their third pop-up event, A Vintage Adventure, at Duke Albert in northeast Minneapolis. They’ll be selling pieces they found on a three-week road trip they took from Minnesota to Savannah, GA.
We emailed with the Moth Oddities crew, who where in the middle of their latest trip, and they shared shopping secrets, tales of weird finds, and what it’s like hunting for items via cross-country road trips.
City Pages: What sparked the road trip idea in the first place?
Moth Oddities: We opened Moth Oddities in 2014. Our first year in business we spent most days indoors in front of our computers or thrifting at the same few shops around town and finding the same kinds of items over and over again. We began feeling a little stagnant. So in November 2015, after our apartment lease ended, we hit the road on a four-month road trip around the perimeter of the United States. We were eager to see how the open road would grow our business and our vintage collection.
CP: What’s different about “road trip” vintage versus the Italian vintage you also sell?
MO: Our road trip vintage consists of items that we collect during our road trips around the United States in our ‘86 Wagoneer named Eleanor. During these trips we average anywhere between 10 to 30 stops at thrift stores, flea markets, antique malls, and estate sales.
Our Italian vintage is sent over directly from our buyer in Italy who hand selects high-end fashion labels and unique items that you can’t find here in the states. She sources her vintage from markets throughout Italy.
CP: What do you look for when thrifting?
MO: Some things we look for when picking vintage are: items made in the USA; items made from natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk, leather, and wool; and items that tell a story and evoke a sense of adventure.
Many times when out picking we ask ourselves, “Is this something that could be worn on a road trip?” If the answer is yes, than it’s a go.
CP: Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever stopped?
MO: On our way down to Savannah, we randomly stumbled upon a huge flea market in the middle of Kentucky with hundreds of vendors. We met a man decked out in all leather and had long grey hair. He had a huge collection of awesome vintage T-shirts. Ian struck up a conversation with him and he told us stories about his time spent on the road touring with the Allman Brothers Band.
CP: What’s the best thing you’ve found on this trip?
Pietras: My favorite item is a sky-blue bomber jacket from the 1980s from a memorial "rod ride" in remembrance of James Dean. There’s a colorful graphic of him on back.
O'Neill: My favorite item we found is a ‘90s Tupac T-shirt with a portrait of his face and bedazzled gems overlaying his jewelry
CP: What are your best tips for thrifting on the road?
MO: Plan for shorter driving days to allow for picking stops along the way. Stop as often as you can. Most flea markets are only open on the weekends, so keep that in mind when planning.
CP: How has Instagram changed the game for you as vintage sellers?
MO: We use it as a selling platform to reach many people at once, eliminating the need for a physical storefront. It also allows us to do our job from anywhere. During this road trip, we bought a 1980s jumpsuit from a thrift store in Madison, WI, posted it to Instagram in Indianapolis, IN, and shipped it to its new owner from a post office in Nashville, TN.
That being said, we don’t rely solely on Instagram for selling. We also have a website, stockists, and partake in monthly pop-ups.
A Vintage Adventure
5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 12
2516 Central Ave. NE., Minneapolis