Modern Manor: Vintage Paradise
Between Downtown Phoenix and the north to the Arcadia district, there lies a mecca of Mid-Century modern furniture. At the forefront of this retro movement is Arizona native Ryan Durkin, owner of Modern Manor. His love of collecting all things vintage eventually materialized into a 4,000 square foot kingdom of some of the best picked vintage furniture pieces in the valley.
“We’ve been around for a little over three years, born out of my wife and I’s love for design and collecting. When we got married we needed furniture for our house and instead of going to Ikea we thought, ‘Let’s go to estate sales!’”
“We’d buy stuff at estate sales all the time but then we’d go find another couch and see that it was on sale for $50 and I knew I could sell it for more than $50. So I’d buy it and sell it on Craigslist and started selling more on eBay. I then got a small spot at an antique mall, for about a year before opening Modern Manor three years ago this April, and then just kind of grew from there.”
With the vintage movement growing at an increasingly rapid pace, Modern Manor soon became surrounded by shops with similar styles and inventory. When asked how Ryan keeps the Manor at the top, he replied, “We have a really good team: it’s me, my wife, and our store manager who is one in a million. He’s a great worker, a big strong guy so he can move furniture. I mean, he likes this stuff more than I do. He’s very knowledgeable and very very into it, always wanting to learn. To find someone like that is really hard”.
“My wife loves design, she’s very creative. The merchandising of the store is what I think what makes us unique. We come in very regularly and set up vignettes together and make sure this coffee table looks good with this couch, you know what I mean? We make it all look good together.”
“I also think we have a relatively unique eye for the valley, for Phoenix doesn’t have a whole lot of shops like this especially with this much selection. That’s another thing, we’re big! We have a big space. It doesn’t hurt that we have another business that takes the strain off and allows us to do what we want.”
That other business Ryan is talking about is his screen printing and embroidery business that he’s been running for the past thirteen years, and what he considers to be his actual ‘job’. After stepping into the Tempe vintage clothing store, Plush, and discovering the wonders of iron-on shirts.
“Over the next few years I ended up buying a 20-30 thousand vintage iron-ons on eBay and I’d open them up and it’d be like Christmas: Led Zeppelin, Star Wars, Dukes of Hazzard, you name it. So I got a heat press and some t-shirts and started making vintage t-shirts and selling them on eBay. And then Young Life, which is a Christian ministry we’re involved in, would say, ‘Oh, can you make our camp shirts?’ and I said, ‘No, unless you want it to say Led Zeppelin!’”
“After awhile I got enough of that that I started my own screen printing business and now there’s no more vintage, but when I was doing the vintage t-shirts, I really grasped this appreciation for vintage stuff. When I got married and it was time to be a big boy and buy furniture I wanted vintage furniture and now we are where we are.”
Durkin, who grew up in Cave Creek, has seen it all in terms of the growth of Phoenix culture and style.
“Phoenix has for too long been a boring cowboy town. I grew up on 6 acres with a barn and I still wear my cowboy hat and go shooting with my dad, you know? But I’m an artsy guy too. I like art and music. It’s fun to see Phoenix become more cultural and it’s very fun, for me, to have a shop that’s my shop that contributes in some little way to that — and we’ve been recognized for that. Not trying to brag but it’s exciting! It’s like getting a trophy for something you love doing. You feel honored for it.”
Modern Manor is planning on expanding their store another 2000 square feet later this year, and will be adding another local favorite, Hard Goods, to it’s shopping space. For more information go the Modern Manor website or follow them on Facebook.