DamnAged Vintage: A Dose of Color in Cold Spring | Beauty & Fashion | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge DamnAged Vintage: A Dose of Color in Cold Spring
Courtesy of DamnAged Vintage

On a cold, dreary day in April, DamnAged Vintage in Downtown Cold Spring offers a bright antidote to the gray skies outside, with well-organized, color-coded racks of garments and styled displays.

Like most kids, the vintage shop’s founder Judiann Romanello played dress-up, rifling through her grandmother’s closet to put together glamorous outfits that spoke of bygone eras. She never grew out of her sartorial obsession, and after majoring in English in college, she went on to work in the fashion industry, first in editorial, then in visual merchandising for brands like Club Monaco, Elie Tahari, and most recently Cartier. But despite the glimmer of corporate life, her love of vintage kept calling. In April 2019, Romanello walked away from a six-figure salary at the jewelry behemoth to start scouting and selling retro threads.

click to enlarge DamnAged Vintage: A Dose of Color in Cold Spring
Courtesy of DamnAged Vintage
Judiann Romanello, DamnAged Vintage founder

“I had to stay true to myself, because it’ll make you sick if you don’t,” Romanello says. “I think a lot of people go through life just accepting what life is and not changing it. But it was like this inner voice telling me, ‘Alright, what’s next? You’ve got to do something different.’ And it’s scary—you made it to the top, but I didn’t want to do that.”

By August 2019, she had created an Instagram page to start peddling her vintage finds. “When people started to purchase, it was a crazy feeling,” Romanello recalls. “I was selling out of my 300-square-foot apartment in the city. It was when I had three customers in at once, one trying on clothes in the bedroom, another in the shower room, and the third changing in my bathroom, that I realized I was growing too much to stay there.”

She announced to her Insta followers that she was planning to open a brick-and-mortar location, and then headed north to find a space to make good on that promise. A bit cart before the horse, but it worked to incentivize her. She found a cozy storefront on Main Street in Cold Spring, not far from where she grew up in Putnam Valley, and by March 2020 she had the keys. “It was all because of that public announcement,” she says. “It was like ‘well now you can’t fail, because everybody’s going to see it.’”

click to enlarge DamnAged Vintage: A Dose of Color in Cold Spring
Courtesy of DamnAged Vintage

DamnAged Vintage, which celebrates its first anniversary in June, had a challenging first year, with unprecedented hurdles posed by the pandemic. Romanello’s greatest obstacle came when she could no longer attend estate sales, which had previously been her main source of inventory. She struggled even just to furnish the storefront, with stores closed when she got the keys at the onset of lockdown.

Despite the challenges, Romanello made it work, thanks to the loyalty of her “small but real” Instagram following, which she kept involved throughout the process. “Rather than not tell them what was going on, I was so honest, and they loved that realness,” she says. “Like ‘Hey guys, I'm in an empty store. We’re not open yet but here's what I'm going to do.’ And I took them on this journey.”

click to enlarge DamnAged Vintage: A Dose of Color in Cold Spring
Courtesy of DamnAged Vintage

When Romanello was finally able to source the furniture and clothing she needed, the opening of DamnAged Vintage was “seamless,” thanks to years of on-the-job training as a visual merchandiser. “When it came time, I knew how to organize things,” she says. “Seeing these processes of how to properly open a store, it was all second nature to me.” 

Romanello’s well-trained eye for display is evident in the store’s thoughtful layout. Tidy racks of hats and shoes, accessories, and candles evoke a high-end department store display. Color and pattern transition smoothly across racks of dresses, skirts, sweaters, and pants, drawing you in, inviting you to browse. “I’m fascinated by the history of the pieces,” she says of her love of vintage. “We don’t know where these things came from. It’s the unknown, thinking about where it’s been, and giving it a story. It’s a piece of history and a reminder of what once was.”

DamnAged Vintage
109 Main Street, Cold Spring
Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11am-5pm; Sunday 11am-4pm 

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