Brimming with quirky relics from decades past, Kitsch’n Swell is a treasure trove waiting to be scavenged. Though sandwiched in the middle of several similar stores, Kitsch’n Swell is as unique as the items it houses, and is not to be missed.
Unlike many vintage stores, which can’t seem to stifle the lingering smell of mothballs, Kitsch’n Swell welcomes visitors with the subtle aroma of incense, automatically giving the space a warm feel. The décor is overly cluttered in a completely charming way, with everything from Christian-themed oil paintings to Elvis memorabilia to 1940s feathered caps hanging off the bright walls. Every square inch of the place oozes with personality, and it feels like each item has a story.
Most importantly, this isn’t just another frippery.
“Everything we sell is genuine vintage,” said Amélie Thériault, who owns the store with her boyfriend Richard Goulet. All items sold hail from sometime between the 1940s and ‘80s, so you’re not just re-buying a discarded Christmas sweater from three years ago.
“We’re constantly searching for interesting items,” said Thériault. She explained that they get their merchandise from a myriad of sources, often enlisting the help of a “picker” who is essentially an expert vintage hunter.
Most of their stock comes from within Montreal, but an occasional expedition elsewhere in Canada has proved fruitful.
“Some of our prized items are a collection of 600 pairs of pants we found in New Brunswick, all from the 1960s and never worn,” said Thériault.
Another one of their treasures is a slew of 1950s glasses, all completely new, which they retrieved from a closed-down optometrist’s old stock. There are hundreds of pairs of horn-rimmed and bejewelled cat-eye frames and, of course, I simply couldn’t resist trying on every single one. The new-old frames are all sold for $124, while ones that were previously owned come in slightly cheaper at $99.
Some of my favorite items were the 1960s grey-blue typewriter, still in its original case and the functioning 1940s dial phone. Scrounging around the magazine rack, I rifled through old issues of Life and Paris Match magazines, the oldest of which was from October 1937. Amongst them were some iconic editions, namely the Life issue that came out the week after John F. Kennedy was shot. Of course, there are also plenty of sartorial finds for vintage aficionado—I dare you to leave without a perfectly granny-chic sweater in hand.
Prices vary depending on the item, how old it is and its condition. Generally the clothing seems to fit into the $35 to $60 price range, meaning that these timeless pieces won’t set you back any farther than the average shopping trip to Zara or H&M.
Thériault and Goulet opened Kitsch’n Swell five years ago, and have since opened a sister shop, Rokokonut, one door over. In there, you’ll find a similar vibe with a racier edge. Vintage Playboy magazines sit on racks next to gussets and garters, but it also houses a more extensive collection of pants and dresses.
Both stores are definitely worth a visit if you’re in the market for kitschy knick-knacks, an authentically retro wardrobe revamp, or if you simply want to take a step back into the days of olde.
Kitsch’n Swell is located on 3968 Saint-Laurent Blvd.