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A.Z. Vintage store opens Friday


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By Katie Mettler



Alison Zook is a scavenger.

The A.Z. Vintage owner said she has always loved the smell of musty basements, and her earliest memories involve digging around in attics and playing dress-up. It’s only natural that her new shop on North Morton Street would evoke the same old-timey feel she is so fond of.

A.Z. Vintage’s grand opening is 6 to 10 p.m. today. Zook will officially open her doors for customers to peruse her shop for retro, vintage and mid-century modern furniture, housewares, clothing and accessories.

“I am scared to death,” Zook said. “But it’s a healthy fear. If I wasn’t scared, then I shouldn’t be doing this.”

Zook graduated in 1998 from Owen Valley High School in her hometown of Spencer, Ind. Just a few weeks after graduation, she moved to Bloomington, where she has
remained since.

Zook never went to college, but she said she is dismissing that stigma as she prepares to open her first business at the age of 32 as a “self-made woman.”

“It’s the best thing I never did,” she said. “I have never been school-minded. I’m not going to make a lot of money doing this. I just want to pay the bills and be happy and do what I love.”

And what she loves to do is give old stuff new life. 

The self-described crafty Zook said she has always loved working with her hands. In 2006, she began working at Bella Bella, an art studio owned by artist Lara Moore.

“It was like arts and crafts day every day,” Zook said.

While working there, Zook began feeding her antique obsession by buying and selling pieces online. For the past two years, she has had her own booth in the Bloomington Antique Mall. But she said juggling all the things became too hectic to handle.

“It was just exhausting,” she said. “It kind of came to that point where I had to put all my eggs in one basket and see what happened.”

She had always aspired to own her own store, so she said that when the bank approved her proposal in January, she couldn’t wait to get started. Zook moved into her store March 28. She said that for the past two weeks, she has been working 12-hour days to prepare for the grand opening today.

“I’ve called in so many favors from the whole army,” Zook said of her friends.

The store’s spunky colors and retrospective vibe reflect Zook’s quirky personality.

“I should have been born in 1940, in the swinging heyday of the mid-century dinner parties,” she said. “I don’t think there is a line anymore between my store and me.”

Zook said she was fortunate enough to be approached by investors during the early process of formulating her business model, and they have made all the difference.

“These are just regular people who’d rather put stock in me than big banks and the stock market,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this in any other city than Bloomington.”

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Mugs for sale hang on a shelf Thursday at A.Z. Vintage. Brea Johnson Buy Photos

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