The Boston-based, online shop Erie Drive has struck that perfect balance of new and old. Naturally drawn to their collection of old New York City MTA Subway signs and vintage tea sets, we soon learned Creative Director Alexandra Grenham is the leading vintage hunter of the group. With a knack for interior design and an up-and-coming jewelry line, Alexandra is always rummaging through markets for unique finds. Read on to see what finds she’s acquired over the years and her best tips for shopping flea markets.
Hi Alexandra! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am the Creative Director and Buyer for Boston-based online retailer called Erie Drive. We love what we sell. I really enjoy rummaging through antique markets!
Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I was born in Cambridge but currently live in Boston’s North End.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
I can’t pick just one! It’s a tie between the people and the food. The North End is one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods and has a predominately Italian population. Good food is everywhere! I love my neighborhood’s old world charm and all of its characters.
What’s your favorite place locally to discover hidden treasures?
For hidden treasures I love Brimfield Flea Market. Brimfield takes place three times a year and is the largest open air antique market in the world. I’m lucky enough to have it so close! The event is inspirational. The collection of antiques and collectibles is sublime. I’m also a big fan of Brooklyn Flea.
What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
Krrb, of course! Also Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, Continuous Lean, and Anthropologie.
As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs? Stories please!
I was the oldest and the only girl so I got lucky with new clothes. However, I did inherit my father’s wool bell-bottom Navy pants. They are unbelievably cool and warm. People always ask where I got them. And if you were wondering (because everybody does) – he weighed about 90 pounds.
Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
Negotiate with the vendor and hold firm on the price. I’m really into history and big industrial pieces, and I’ve learned to always make sure the object will fit in my home. There have been many times I have found myself on the sidewalk trying to fit or stuff something through my front door only to see it being hauled away. Measure, measure…
Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
I found a Mission style chair and a vintage mailbox slot in the trash by my old home in East Cambridge. Unfortunately the clutter police (that would be my husband) did not allow these finds to join us in our new home! He did give me the green light to design custom shelving for our entryway though.
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
The minimalist ship has sailed.
What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
When the Boston Public Library/Copley Green Line MBTA station was being renovated, they tore out the old, original (very large!) metal station sign. The rescued 6-foot sign now hangs in my kitchen. It is by far the coolest of all my finds!
Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
I am currently in the process of designing a line of women’s one-of-a-kind jewelry.
By the way, what’s your day job?
My day job is a blend of being a mother to two young girls (6 and 2) and sourcing cool stuff as a Buyer for Erie Drive.