Are you into vintage wear and tired of looking like everyone else? Do you search for hours in a store for that perfect shirt to match your new jeans, yet you donʼt want to buy one that may be seen on someone else? Are you looking for somewhere with reasonable prices and student discounts? Well, thereʼs a solution for you right here in West Chester! Malenaʼs is a boutique located at 145 W. Gay Street. The boutique offers colorful jewelry, T-shirts, dresses, jeans, jackets, sweaters, purses, shoes and even makeup. Malenaʼs also sells accessories such as broaches, scarves, belts and even hats. The unique part about what Malenaʼs has to offer is that all of the merchandise is “vintage.” It is collected from eras ranging from the 1920s to the 70s.Malenaʼs is owned and founded by Malena Martinez, 24, a graduate of Pratt University of New York. It opened in June of 2003, making it relatively new. Martinez, from West Chester, started collecting vintage clothes when she was 12 years old. From that point on she knew she wanted to take on the fashion world, and so after graduating from Pratt, she came back to West Chester to open her vintage boutique. A common misconception is that vintage items and antique items are the same thing. Something that is antique is 100 years old or more. Something that is “vintage” is anything less.
Martinez, with her bubbly personality and great advice, really cares about her boutique and wants to make sure she keeps her customers satisfied, so that is why she has dealers bring in new merchandise every few days or so. You can go to Malenaʼs once a week and always find new items to choose from. “Itʼs fun to have a variety,” said Martinez. “People never know what they will find here.”
Besides running her own business, Martinez has a knack for fashion, and lets her customers know exactly what looks good on them and how to wear it. She knows a lot about clothes and how they should fit because she makes her own clothes. “Iʼm going to be honest with my customers, because I want people to notice what they have on and ask, ʻWhere did you get that?ʼ”
Malenaʼs also offers a makeup artist who will make appearances on the weekends, depending on her schedule, to teach customers how to wear make-up. Even offers her own line of products at the boutique. Not only can someone come in once a week and find new merchandise, but they can also come to get a lesson on how to do their make-up and then purchase some there at the demonstration.
Malenaʼs customers come from all age groups. There is the college crowd, which Martinez said usually goes for the ʻ60s and ʻ70s clothes, and then there is the older crowd who will go for the ʻ20s or ʻ30s styles. “They come in because everything is a one of a kind. You wonʼt see the item anywhere else,” said Martinez.
Another good quality about the boutique is that it is the only one around this area. There are some in Philadelphia, but if you live around here it is the only one of its kind. Malenaʼs is certainly one of a kind, and it was even voted “Best Boutique” in the City Paper. If you are looking for a colorful, fun and new (in a sense) look, then check out Malenaʼs. And every first Friday night of the month, year round, Malenaʼs is part of the chain of stores that stays open till 9 p.m. serving cocktails, food and of course, sales!