‘Everything old is new again’

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Butter Curated Thrift in Gulf Gate provides a tasty selection of retro gems

By Jane Bartnett

The old saying “everything old is new again” sums it all up.

Behind the door at Butter Curated Thrift, a small Gulf Gate boutique at 6625 Superior Ave., is a marvelous treasure trove of finds. The ever-changing collection ranges from a beautiful and surprisingly comfortable red velvet love seat to sets of colored wine glasses, martini shakers, books, clothing, paintings, chairs, tables and unique small finds for the home.

“People ask me all the time why I call it Butter,” said Lili Kinsman, Butter’s curator, designer and owner, who began her professional career as a chef in Connecticut’s River Valley, working at quaint New England inns in Essex and Chester, as well as at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.  “Naming the store Butter was my homage to Julia Child. She was a big influence in my life. And really, who doesn’t love butter?”

“The items that I have curated and sell here at Butter are retro, not vintage,” Kinsman added. Explaining the difference, she noted that the term retro applies to furniture, clothing, and all items from the 1970s through the year 2000.

Lili Kinsman in her store. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

“We are a curated store, not a consignment store,” she said.

As for the store’s vibe, “My aesthetic is slightly funky,” Kinsman said.

After moving to the Siesta Key area from Connecticut in 2016, Kinsman filled her own home with furnishings form Sarasota re-sale stores. As a result, she decided to pursue her love for fashion and design and began assisting others in curating their new homes. As her collection of finds grew beyond her storage unit and the long days of the pandemic set in, she decided to open Butter. The store was a natural extension of her career.

“When people come to me for design help with their home, I ask them what they want their house to say. From there, we find pieces that reflect their taste and their lives,” she said.

The trend for the kind of furnishings and home items found at Butter is here to stay. Designers report that there has been a sea change in the home decorating world. The old rules are out and eclectic is now in vogue.

Kinsman says that she sees this new attitude reflected in Generation X and millennial buyers as well as younger baby boomers who have moved to the Siesta Key region and left their old furniture behind.

“They want a new look,” she said.

Mid-century pieces are among those most requested by Butter buyers.

“People are discovering that it’s fun to entertain at home. Colored glassware is very popular. Pink, yellow and green-gold is really trending,” Kinsman said.

Nationwide, re-sale furniture sales are booming. According to Statista, a provider of American furniture industry data, the market for used furniture is expected to grow by 38% by 2025.  Forbes Magazine reported that dressers, desks, dining tables, coffee tables and sofas that seat three or more people are most in demand.

Reasonably priced and in most cases instantly available, retro furniture has great appeal.

“If you like a table or chair or something else in this store, once you buy it, it’s yours,” said Kinsman. “That beats waiting six months for a delivery.”

Buying retro pieces as opposed to new furniture also benefits the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018 Americans tossed out 12 million tons of furniture.

When shoppers visit in search of interesting retro clothes and accessories, Kinsman asks “What’s your personal statement?”

In fact, young social media influencers such as model and actress Brinley Steen (@brinley.steen) have discovered Butter. Steen’s posts show the model wearing a classic black and white wrap dress that sells for $16 at Butter and a majorette jacket with original buttons and epaulettes found at the store for $85. Mixing retro looks with new items is very much on trend and Steen’s posts have brought international attention to the Gulf Gate shop, attracting many young women in their teens and 20s.

Buying re-sale clothing is also environmentally friendly.

“Purchasing one pair of pre-loved jeans saves 2,100 gallons of water,” Kinsman said.

As every good bargain shopper knows, it’s the thrill of the hunt and finding a hidden treasure to take home and admire that makes it all worth the while.

On Saturday afternoons, a social event makes that search even more fun. The business offers complimentary craft beer and cocktails from 1 to 4 p.m. during the store’s Sip and Shop sessions.

Butter is open Tuesday through Saturday. Call (941) 402-4751, or visit ButterSRQ.com.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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