I had the privilege to meet the awesome duo behind the once-a-month pop-up shop Very Second-Hand Clothing and Goods. This shop isn’t just about finding unique things; it’s about creating a community and a collective lifestyle in creativity. It’s so Jersey City that most of Jersey City doesn’t know about it yet…until now.
Jean and Matthew hunt throughout the tri-state area for one-of-a-kind finds. It starts with clothing and extends to home goods (think: ashtrays, coasters, record players, glassware sets—things with a timeless feel).
In Matthew’s words, the two acquire “Anything that we like or think that other people would like. We bring it in, give it a shot, and if it’s not selling, then it becomes part of our decor going along with this whole apartment feel.”
JCG: Why Very Second-Hand Clothing and Goods?
Matthew: We were sitting around trying to come up with names, and a lot of cheesier ones came out, but I’m a big fan of the movie Heathers, and one of the things the character Veronica Sawyer says—as people are drinking or trying to tell her stories or whatever—is “How Very,” with no adjective after that; she just leaves it open to translation. I found it to be kind of the funniest, weirdly offensive way to describe something. It’s open to interpretation.
And the other thing about the name is, in my experience shopping in these vintage shops and whatnot, I didn’t want to use the word “vintage.” I like the idea of attaching my name to “second-hand” rather than “vintage.”
Jean: Our shop is not inaccessible. It’s not a place where you walk in and feel uncomfortable. Our whole vision is, “Let’s make a second-hand shop where people can come in and find that really cool piece—but not at a price point that will turn them away from shopping.” The highest priced item is $40—and that’s for a designer coat.
JCG: What do you like about Jersey City?
Matthew: My friend really got me into it. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. After finishing school, I couldn’t afford NYC. I moved to Union City and that started my domestication in Hudson County. I later moved here and quickly realized that Jersey City and its neighboring towns have everything New York City has to offer, and I haven’t been back to “the city” to socialize or hang out for years.
Jersey City has everything you need yet it’s a lot more close-knit. I like knowing everything about a town. The idea of being a small fish in a big pond is no longer attractive.
Jean: I think Jersey City is the best-kept secret of this state—which is quickly becoming not so much a secret anymore, in a good way and in a bad way. Recently, I’ve read a few articles comparing JC to Brooklyn, and everyone is moving here who is priced out of Brooklyn or Hoboken, and I get it.
It’s a great place, it’s really down to earth, it’s creative. I feel like there’s always something going on, and it’s something unconventional—never corporate, never cookie-cutter.
JCG: What’s your ultimate vision?
Matthew: We want it to be an everyday shop. It’s not just about coming in and trying to buy something, it’s about coming in and changing the record that’s playing, reading the newspaper and hanging out. And also, I have a huge network of friends who have been here for years, and everyone has a friend who’s an artist. I would love to curate art in the store.
Jean: Eventually, I want to start a tea shop/cafe as part of the retail space.
JCG: To encourage people to linger and build your collaborative community?
Where can you, JC residents, find this pop-up shop? The first Sunday of every month from 11am-8pm at one of my fave restaurants for celebratory drinks and eats, Boca Grande (564 Washington Blvd.) That means this Sunday, November 3rd. I’ll be there shopping, too.
If we’re lucky, Matthew and Jean will open up shop every other week for the holiday season. Eventually, with Jersey City’s support, VSHC will be a pretty rad brick and mortar space.
Exclusive sound clips from our fab conversation and more pics of merchandise will be available soon. Stay tuned.
Shop and hang locally,