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Uni Watch Field Trip: A Visit to Grayford’s, a Very Special Vintage Shop

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Last weekend E and I visited a shop in Montclair, N.J., called Grayford’s, which is interesting on several levels. On the one hand, it’s a vintage shop, with lots of old clothing and home furnishings. But there’s also a decent assortment of new clothing, although all of the new wares are produced with a self-consciously nostalgic vibe. Many of the photos and signs on the shop walls are available for sale, but some of the vintage clothing is not for sale — it’s just for display. The whole thing feels less like a store than like a curated museum or gallery reflecting one person’s very specific retro-minded vision.

That person is the shop’s owner, Brad Bonnema. He wasn’t there when we visited, but his sister Rachel, who co-manages the shop with him, showed us around, patiently answered all our questions, and allowed me to take plenty of photos.

There were lots of uni-related items on display, like these gorgeous old durene jerseys (note the spectacular chain-stitched lettering on the first two):

I was also fascinated by this very old girl’s gym suit with a really great little chest logo:

The label has a handwritten inscription — “Federofsky, B.” — and that same name is embroidered on the back of the suit! Check this out:

Speaking of items with the original wearer’s name written in them check out this beautiful women’s Air Force pilot’s jacket, with “Fay Pfeffer” written on the inner tag:

There were several very nice jackets. Naturally, I especially liked the green corduroy 4H design (which is actually reversible, although I didn’t get any pics of the inside-out version):

There were also some awesome-looking collegiate sweaters. This one is from Harvard:

I forgot to ask which school or organization this one was from, but it was one of my favorite items in the shop:

Want to make your own varsity-style jacket or sweater? They even had some old chenille patches avaialble:

In all my years of vintage shopping, I’ve never seen an old T-shirt for the SNCC (that’s the old Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, pronounced “snick,” which was an important civil rights advocacy group in the 1960s) until now:

That one really blew my mind. It’s a little hard to see in the photo, but there’s also an old SNCC pin, featuring the group’s primary logo, on the collar.

The shop also has some old team photos featuring great vintage uniforms:

I’ve never thought about collecting vintage aprons, but that was before I saw these two specimens:

Probably my favorite thing in the entire shop was this magnificent 5A blanket with very cool tagging (which wasn’t for sale — just as well since I probably couldn’t afford it):

I’d never heard of the 5A brand before, so I did a bit of follow-up research and discovered that they made blankets for horses! So that’s presumably what the blanket in the shop was originally used for. Amazing!

I was also intrigued by these square scooters that were apparently used for gym class:

E and Rachel, who both grew up in New Jersey, said these were used for a gym game called crab soccer (which I definitely didn’t play while growing up on Long Island). But some admittedly cursory research suggests that crab soccer doesn’t involve wheels, while the version with scooters is called, appropriately enough, scooter soccer.

There’s more — a lot more — but that’s enough for now. Grayford’s is definitely worth the trip if you’re in the area. Check out their website here.




Too Good for the Ticker

I’m not sure if this helped the quarterbacks targeting their receivers, but the 1925 Furman team had bullseyes on their jerseys!

That’s just one of the many unusual jersey designs showcased in the latest installment of Tim Brown’s excellent Football Archaeology blog. Don’t miss!



Your Daily(ish) Dose of Kitten

Can you believe this shit?!



Can of the Day

Kinda love how this one is horizontal instead of vertical. Great graphic design, too. Also: “Cream Separator.”

Comments (23)

    Down here in SE Pennsylvania we played a lot of different gym scooter games in elementary school. And they all had one thing in common – fingers crunched between scooters! Still tons of fun.

    That shop looks amazing. Thanks for sharing those pics.

    I’m in South Central PA and can confirm…the amount of squished fingers from crab soccer is what I remember the most. Paul, this store looks incredible, thanks for sharing. I feel like some of these things could be or should be museum pieces. We had a sprawling shop here called the Old Sled Works that unfortunately closed down last year that you would have had a field day in. I think I sent you some photos of some of the old sports memorabilia and clothing they had.

    You should create an app like the One Bite app that maps out and ranks where the best vintage shops are and what kind of collector they would be best for.

    SW PA here, finger crushing was inevitable and turned a fun game into a trip to the nurse’s office for someone

    All the visible details of the SNCC shirt scream modern repro to me, but it’s still a beautiful shirt. Thanks for the tour through the mostly retro goodness!

    Growing up in Toronto, we definitely had scooters like those in gym class! Although it was the early 2000s, so ours were ugly and made of plastic.

    I had to know what a cream separator was (is it a chemical additive to raw milk?); Google gave me this:

    Definitely played scooter soccer in gym class in the Chicago suburbs. Wearing gym shoes, natch.

    We had those gym scooters in Western PA. I remember using them to play a version of floor hockey. We had a gym teacher who was extremely resourceful in coming up with interesting activities with whatever was on hand, and this was another example of that. We had a bunch of floor hockey sticks with broken shafts, and not enough good sticks for 2 teams. So he took all the broken sticks and cut the shafts to about 8″ long and cleaned up the broken ends. And then we used the scooters to traverse the “rink”. At one point the teacher even said to imagine we were playing polo, and the scooters were our horses!

    Grew up in the Pittsburgh area and we played scooter hockey too. We had little plastic sticks though, to go with plastic scooters. I remember them very well, both the sticks and scooters were blue or yellow. I also remember the feeling of rolling over a finger.

    Can we talk about Fay Pfeffer as a name? Sounds like something Dr. Seuss would have made up to fit a rhyme in a story.

    Great tour through a wonderful shop. My favorite item must be the FMTAS team picture with that wooden Dalmatian on the left, photobombing with a smile.

    I never played scooter soccer growing up in Mass.
    My kids did use similar scooters to play a human variation of hungry hippos. 2-person team, one lying chest/stomach down on the scooter with a laundry basket, the second person “driving” by holding their legs. Push them out into the middle to scoop up balls in their basket then drag them back and deposit some on their side.

    I totally remember those gym scooters from elementary school. I don’t recall playing scooter soccer though. We just raced them.

    That Furman team looks to be sponsored by Target, had they existed at the time.

    That Air Force jacket looks a lot like the WWII RAF jackets that were used as the influence for Luke Skywalker’s fatigues in The Empire Strikes Back.

    Growing up in Calgary, AB in the 1980’s/90’s we also used the square scoots and ours were also the gross beige plastic variety. We played scooter hockey and although I don’t remember squished fingers, there were lots of people falling off and thus scrapes.

    We definitely had those gym scooters in my Long Island elementary school. I attended from 1996-2002.

    Edit: That should just say “gym scooters,” not “those gym scooters.” Ours were definitely plastic!

    E is my girlfriend. Her first appearance on Uni Watch was in this travelogue from a few months ago: link

    Rachel is mentioned in the second paragraph of the post.

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