Two businesswomen team up to launch a Utah vintage store that’s ‘very now’

Annata Collective’s founders aim to take the ‘thrift store’ label out of the vintage market.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rio Blanco and Nicole Jensen, co-owners of the Annata Collective, hold Meeko, at their store on 900 South, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

The founders of Annata Collective, a new vintage apparel and home-decor shop in Salt Lake City, say there’s something for everyone in their store — and that’s by design.

“Looking at the shop, we’ve been intentional with everything,” said co-owner Nicole Jensen, who partnered with Rio Blanco to launch the store in June at 362 E. 900 South. “We’re trying to be modern and trendy with vintage items.”

One sign of the store’s trendiness, Jensen said, is the fact that 80% of its Instagram audience is between the ages of 24 and 44.

Blanco said the pair has worked hard at “getting [the shop] so well rounded that anybody could walk in and they could find something.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Annata Collective, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

The partners each had their own vintage businesses — Blanco owned White River Designs, which specializes in classic American apparel and blankets; Jensen owned Eclectic, a home-decor store.

Blanco and Jensen had talked before about collaborating. The spur to do it now came after Jensen was given 30 days’ notice to vacate Eclectic’s former location in Midvale, before the building was torn down. Within 30 days, the two found their space — in the basement of a building where the plant nursery Thyme and Place resides — and moved in.

Annata — the Italian word for “vintage” — is accessible to customers down a flight of stairs on the building’s east side. On a wall opposite the entryway, the store’s tagline, “Next Generation of Vintage,” is painted in blocky black letters.

A customer walking into Annata is likely to encounter the store’s greeter, Meeko, Jensen’s Boston terrier/French bulldog mix, who is often stationed by the entryway. Old-timey music — such as Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love” — echoes around the packed space.

Once inside, it’s hard to stop looking around. The place is teeming, practically spilling over, with unique finds.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Annata Collective, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

In the men’s shop — a refurbished walk-in closet space that has lost its door — features a hat wall, a vintage Sansui television set (on this day, it’s playing a videotape of “Batman & Robin”), a box full of comics, and more.

“It’s really cool,” Blanco said of the men’s shop, one of the two areas of which she said she’s most proud. “It’s such a destination. … We called it the ‘kill room’ when we moved in, because that’s what it felt like in there.”

Blanco’s other favorite area — the “hub” of the store, she said — is the denim bar, a wall full of different colors and fabrics of jeans. “It’s become our bread and butter of the shop,” Blanco said.

Elsewhere, there are trays of stickers, and a stack of ‘90s’ CDs — with such titles as TLC’s “Creep” — priced at $10 apiece. An old Lite Brite leans against a shelf on the floor. A small marble bust of David is perched next to a stack of books about famous artists. Cowboy boots are in one direction, Calabash pipes (the kind usually associated with Sherlock Holmes) in another.

Mirrors are scattered throughout the shop, usually featuring kitschy sayings, such as “go ahead, I know you want to take a selfie” and “their opinion of you doesn’t define you. You define you.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Annata Collective, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

In the bathroom, clippings and photos from old issues of Playboy are framed, and there are full editions of the men’s magazine on top of the toilet tank. The store’s largest mirror is also there, adorned with the message, “Darling, you are a work of art.”

One of the owners’ goals, Blanco said, is that the store be entirely community based. So far, that’s working, she said, because all of the store’s vendors and artisans are local.

Those local artisans and businesses include The Plant Room, which sells plants and pots, Crooked Tail Bakery, and House of Posters, which displays a plethora of pop culture posters in the back of Annata.

Also in back is a wall dedicated to vintage vendors, such as Maek Shift Kimber, which makes blouses out of old tablecloths. Other vintage vendors represented on the wall are Checkered Out, Sanguine, Vintage by Chelsey and Luna Dust Vintage.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Annata Collective, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

Blanco and Jensen said they are outsourcing for vendors every day — and have an online application form for interested vendors to fill out.

“We want people to come to the shop and know this is a place you can go and hang out with your friend,” Jensen said.

Part of the hanging out includes hosting events. For example, from the end of September through October, the store will present themed movie nights in the alleyway next to the shop.

Blanco and Jensen plan to participate in markets when they can, but will focus primarily on the Urban Flea Market, which has its next monthly session on Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at The Gateway, 12 N. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City. (Admission is $3 per person, kids 12 and under get in free if accompanied by an adult.)

“We’re trying to create a new level of vintage, and removing the words ‘antique,’ ‘used,’ ‘thrift store,’ and creating something that’s usable, wearable now,” Blanco said. “When we came up with ‘the next generation of vintage’ [as a tagline], that’s truly what we had in mind — that it’s for everyone. It’s very now.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Annata Collective, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.