Secondhand shopping on Figueroa caters to eclectic tastes

Product display at Soft Humans vintage clothing store in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 7, 2022. Avery Ferrier/The Occidental

Secondhand shops are a pastime of Occidental students, and vintage stores are among them. If students venture further than York all the way to Figueroa Street, they will find many such stores — including Soft Humans, Sunbeam Vintage and the Bearded Beagle.

Dominique Derouen is the owner of Soft Humans, a small vintage store directly off of Figueroa that has been open for the past four years. According to Derouen, Soft Humans is a vintage store that specializes in band t-shirts and is inspired heavily by 1980s rock music.

“I’m a big music guy, so if you see the vibe of the shop, [it’s] like when I was a little kid and I [would] go to the local music shop,” Derouen said. “So I definitely tried to have the shop kind of leaning towards that, where people are learning about stuff in the shop.”

Derouen said he originally opened the store as a side hobby to fund his dream of running a restaurant. However, according to Derouen, he enjoyed the process of collecting and selling vintage clothing so much that he decided to make it his full-time job. He said he is also focusing on starting up an original clothing line.

According to Derouen, he is the only person who buys and decides what pieces to sell in the store, which allows him to shape the store’s atmosphere.

“I’m a little different. It’s curated very specifically,” Derouen said. “It’s not all over the place. People can understand the connections between, like, that dress as to that shirt.”

Product display at Soft Humans vintage clothing store in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 7, 2022. Avery Ferrier/The Occidental

According to Derouen, five VHS tapes are on a constant loop on old television sets around the store. Derouen said these visual and musical aids add to the overall vibe of the store, focusing on the ’80s and ’70s theme in order to transport the customer.

Sunbeam Vintage is located a few blocks away from Soft Humans and focuses on furniture and home decorations and has both a storefront and a warehouse located on the same block. Jacob Antolini said he has been working there for a few years.

According to Antolini, Sunbeam Vintage is one of the only vintage furniture stores on Figueroa, so it attracts a lot of customers.

“There were some other stores here but because of COVID the rents in the neighborhood got really expensive,” Antolini said. “There is a scene here of vintage clothing, a lot of vintage record stores, and a lot of tattoo studios. But we’re pretty much the last standing [furniture] store in Highland Park.”

Outdoor display at Sunbeam Vintage in Los Angeles, CA. Oct. 7, 2022. Avery Ferrier/The Occidental

Antolini said one of the main goals of Sunbeam Vintage is making furniture and vintage shopping more affordable for customers. They source their pieces mainly from private sellers. According to Antolini, because of their unique prices and pieces, Sunbeam Vintage has become an important shop on Figueroa.

“We just like to make accessibly priced vintage fun and playful,” Antolini said. “That’s pretty much why we have been here for 18 years in this location.”

Located close by is The Bearded Beagle, another vintage shop. According to the owner, Rebecca Pieper, the store has been open since 2013. Pieper said that The Bearded Beagle is unique among vintage shops in the area in that it does not curate around particular trends.

“We have always been a little bit more open-minded about what to wear,” Pieper said. “I feel like it is great to have more variety. There is something for everyone here.”

According to Pieper, running a vintage store allows her to be more creative, and find unique, budget-friendly pieces to market to the customers.

“I carry what feels right,” Pieper said. “Honestly, a lot of the time, if something disgusts me and gives me a visceral reaction, it makes me like it more. I feel like we kind of just put it all out there and then let our customers decide if they like it or not.”

Pieper said that The Bearded Beagle is inspired by current trends, runways and various historical looks. According to Pieper, her store is unique in its eclectic and expansive style choices, which truly allow the customer to make their own creative decisions. Pieper said that with The Bearded Beagle, she wanted to introduce people to the benefits of shopping vintage, for themselves and the larger world.

“It’s really important to do your best to shop sustainably,” Pieper said. “I just want more people to be aware that there’s so much clothing in the world and we don’t need to make any more of it. Especially with fast fashion right now, so if you can, you should try to shop used or vintage.”

Soft Humans, located at 112 N Ave 58, LA, is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Sunbeam Vintage, located at 106 S Avenue 58, LA, is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Bearded Beagle, located at 5926 N Figueroa St., LA, is open 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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