116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It may not seem apparent at first, but there is a theme of sorts to the pieces on display at Vintage Market and Supply.
“It’s what we like to collect,” Chad Kleopfer said.
“Everything here has been hand-picked. We’re not buying stuff … to make a quick buck. This is all stuff that we enjoy and love and collected.”
Kleopfer moved back to his hometown from Des Moines, where he’d managed some clothing stores, in late 2020.
“I hadn’t been back, so seeing all the derecho (damage), that was tough to see,” he said. “Seeing all the devastation and all the work that still needed to be done, once this opportunity came about we definitely wanted to take part, especially in the (Czech) Village.”
Kleopfer operated a booth at a Des Moines antique mall and saw a niche his collection could fill in Cedar Rapids. His mother, Janet Kleopfer, had run a consignment shop in Marion, Puddle Jumpers, before taking about eight years off to be a nanny for her niece’s three children.
“Mom’s had an itch to open a business ever since she sold Puddle Jumpers,” he said. “She’s always wanted to get back into it, and this was me coming home.”
“This building was empty, and my sister owns it,” Janet said. “She was like, ‘What do you think about opening a store down there?’ Sure.’”
The mother-and-son team remodeled and renovated the interior of the building, which had been a series of restaurants. They opened in July, with an emphasis on local and regional historic items.
“We really want to promote Cedar Rapids and the history of it,” Janet said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
“We love Iowa and Cedar Rapids stuff, and Czech Village,” Chad said. “This was our side of town. My grandpa Frank owned a bunch of gas stations on the west side. This is where we grew up, so we take pride in the village.”
Initial inventory was drawn from Chad’s own collection, some dealt through his antique-mall sideline and some he’d just kept through the years.
Owners: Janet and Chad Kleopfer
Address: 95 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Phone: (319) 200-4555
“You should’ve seen his house before he moved,” Janet said. “It looked like this. It’s a pulp-culture kind of feel. It’s different than an antiques shop. It’s eclectic.”
The store reflects its owners’ regional focus in its selection of Kernels and pre-Kernels minor league baseball memorabilia and items from local brands such as Life soft drinks.
“I’m blessed to have grown up in Cedar Rapids here in the ’80s, so I’ve always collected the Cedar Rapids stuff,” Chad said, “our baseball history, business history.”
There’s plenty more where that came from, from decades of collecting.
“We have pretty much something for everyone, and we do take requests. Our basement is half-sales floor, the other half is storage,” Chad said. “We have probably double the same amount in storage as you see on the floor. We have huge collections that take awhile to go through ... .”
The store’s first months have been encouraging, the Kleopfers said.
“Cedar Rapids has become a real destination for a lot of tourists from around the Midwest,” he said. “They would stop in, which would amaze us because we were still new and Cedar Rapids hasn’t really found out about us. These people knew, ‘I know a store like this up in Minneapolis.’”
Customer interest prompted modest expansions into vintage clothing and vinyl records,
“A lot of the younger women are really into it,” Janet noted. “The younger girls were asking about vintage clothing for women. Chad’s always had vintage for men, so we started getting into a little bit of that.
“We have a pretty good record collection, and we started collecting and buying from people who had a collection they wanted to sell.”
Pyrex cookware may be the Next Big Vintage Thing, based on the Kleopfers’ experience.
“It’s something new to us, but there’s a huge following,” Janet said. “You can put it in the microwave, you can put it in the oven.”
Chad hopes to develop a website for the store this year and, assisted by his two brothers, the Kleopfers plan to participate in a few flea markets as a supplement to the core business.
“This is a good place to be, Czech Village,” Chad said.
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