Starting as early as 4 a.m., Brandi Muñoz will drive around the county, scouring thrift stores for hidden gems. With more than 40 locations on her thrift-dar, she'll pick up dozens of pieces in a single morning. She does it so you don't have to—and because she loves it.
"Thrift stores are my natural habitat," explains Muñoz, who, with her husband, Tom Kitsos, owns and operates two of the city's most accessible vintage-clothing shops. With an original location in University Heights (4646 Park Blvd.), La Loupe Vintage expanded in August into Normal Heights (3337 Adams Ave.).
After more than two decades in retail and a degree in apparel design, the native San Diegan pulled her musician husband into the business when she was unexpectedly offered a coveted managerial position at a major cosmetics company. While also working night shifts at Toronado, the North Park beer bar, Kitsos, a transplant from Montreal, said he was happy to pick up the slack.
"We're hard workers, and if we want something, we're going to work our asses off to get," he said. "We're really proud of it."
The new store is clever and eclectic without feeling chaotic. With prices starting at around $15 for vintage apparel, the shop also offers smartly curated clothes by local designers, jewelry and other items. However, La Loupe also offers higher-end vintage ware for those in the know. Often, rare pieces will be mixed in with more affordable clothes.
While the couple could make more money selling such clothing online, Muñoz says it makes her happy to see fellow enthusiasts discover a great deal.
"The second the person finds it, and they're just so excited and they know what they have in their hands, that's all worth doing right there."