NEW YORK—The glory days of the postcard are long gone, but one New York City storefront on fashionable Fifth Avenue is bringing the postcard back into vogue.
Those walking past Paul Smith, a designer men’s clothing store at 16th Street and Fifth Avenue, are treated to an eye-catching display of vintage postcards, which frame the dapper outfits in each of the store’s window fronts.
The postcards offer a window into a time before emails, text messaging, and Facebook messages; a time when reaching out to friends and family required a personalized handwritten note.
“We have people that walk by and then stop in just to say, ‘We love the window,’” said Maria Reyes, who does visual merchandising and displays at Paul Smith. “It has been bringing in a lot of people.”
The display, which went up Aug. 16, is the result of a fortunate find by Marc Turnage, visual coordinator for Paul Smith. Turnage went into a junk store in downtown Los Angeles months ago, and walked by a table with boxes of vintage postcards from all over the world dating back to the 1920s.
“I automatically saw it as a window,” Turnage said. He spread a few of the postcards on the floor and called Reyes in New York to let her know he had the next idea for the store’s monthly window change.
The junk store owner wanted 99 cents each, or $85 a box. Turnage struck a deal for eight boxes and hauled them to his house, where they sat in his guest room for three or four months.
When he pulled the boxes before shipping them to the Fifth Avenue store, he thumbed through them. Some of the postcards were just thrown in the boxes, but others were organized by country.
“Someone really took the time to organize all the postcards and if you go inside the store, most of them are real—there’s writing on the back,” Turnage said. The postcards feature short messages such as “wish you were here!” as well as long, heartfelt sentiments from yesteryear.
Once in New York, Reyes and her team spent 12 hours putting them up. Reyes said there wasn’t a specific pattern, but they tried to not combine the same themes.
The results speak for themselves. “It’s one of my favorite windows ever,” said Turnage, who has been designing window fronts for almost 25 years.
“It is almost sad because it was such a beautiful collection and it ended up in a junk store in LA. But I guess we gave it a new life,” Turnage said.
The postcards will be taken down Sept. 20.
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