“Eclectic” is one of the most overused words when describing the inventory of a store. However, in the case of new Vineyard Haven shop Vardo, it’s entirely appropriate. In fact, the stock of the small shop could practically be said to define “eclectic.”
Among the items to be found on the shelves and walls of Vardo are crafts from Africa and South America, antiques and retro items including a number of collectible Barbies, Native American rugs, jewelry and pottery, second hand clothes, some Irish imports, handmade jewelry by owner Heidi Filipowic and her mother, Elizabeth McColgan, interesting old tins, antique toys, original work by local artists, ceramic figurine beads, and hemp cord for make-your-own jewelry projects, and science fiction collectibles.
The latter category represents a longtime interest of Ms. Filipowic. “It’s what I’ve always preferred to watch or read,” she said. Among her favorite shows are “Game of Thrones” and “Dr. Who” and she has created artwork inspired by both, by painting over black-and-white photos from the popular series.
Many of the other items were collected during Ms. Filipowic’s world travels. “I used to be a professional gypsy,” she said. “I travelled to flea markets around the country. I spent a year in Ireland selling from a camper van.” The itinerant merchant has proffered her wares variously at flea markets, Renaissance fairs, motorcycle rallies, music festivals, farmers markets, and boot sales — a British term for gatherings where merchants park themselves in a field and sell from the trunk (“boot” in England) of their cars.
A vardo is a horse-drawn carriage that served both as a means of travel and a home for British Romani people during the 19th century (and also a town in Norway). So it’s an apt name for a former gypsy to adopt for her business.
Luckily, that former gypsy has decided to relocate to Martha’s Vineyard. Most recently she was living in St. Augustine, Fl., before moving here a year ago to be with her husband, Dennis Logan, who works with Stop & Shop.
“I really like it here,” she said. “Having this store, I can sell a lot more things than if I was on the road. It was hard to lug that stuff around and build your store every morning and break it down at the end of the day.”
Vardo opened officially on June 6. Ms. Filipowic has been helped out by her mother, a psychiatric nurse who lives in Eastham who comes down every other week to give her daughter some time off. Ms. Filipowic’s brother has also lent his talents to the enterprise by building the store fixtures — shelving, counter, etc. The walls are painted in bright warm shades and there’s lots of space to stroll. It would be easy to spend a good half an hour in the store, looking through the varied stock of crafts, collectibles, and art. It’s almost a museum-like collection, but the prices are very affordable.
Ms. Filipowic herself enjoys being surrounded by all of her favorite things. No doubt she’s constantly reminded of her extensive travels, which have taken her all around the United States and throughout both Eastern and Western Europe.
But for now, this nomad is enjoying the pleasures of staying in one place. “I feel good about being here,” she said, referring to the colorful, comfortable shop. “I could hang out here 24 hours a day.”
Vardo is located on Spring Street in Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-338-2205.