Talking Shop

When the used antiques from estate and garage sales started taking over their Washington Park home, Kristen Tait and Dylan Moore figured it was either time to open a store or pitch a tent in the back yard.

"Every inch of our house was covered -- the garage was stacked full of furniture, the attic was crammed full of vintage clothing," says Moore.

So in the spring of 1998, they opened Decade, a vintage boutique for hipsters who love affordable old couches and armoires but also want rhinestone napkin-holders and scented candles. "I've wanted to open a boutique since I was fifteen," says Tait. "I wanted a place that my mom would like to shop at, as well as my best friend and my sister. And they are all very different people."

Over the past four years, the store at 56 South Broadway has evolved from selling just vintage furniture and clothes to including new clothes and accessories for both men and women, as well as a variety of gift items. "I call it a funky Wal-Mart," says Moore, while Tait describes Decade as "timeless accessories for a modern lifestyle."

"I just think it's a fun place to come, whether you want to buy something or are just looking for ideas," she adds. "Really, you can come here and find just about anything."

Where do they get all that good stuff? The couple buys most of the furniture at estate sales and auctions. They also buy used furniture from customers. And once a year, they rent a big truck and take off on a cross-country trip searching for the next great find. "We love the hunt," Moore explains. "We're really young to be antiquing, so we're kind of a novelty to most people we meet."

Discovering that they still had too much furniture, last November Tait and Moore opened a second store, Decade Furniture, six doors down from the original. And in their spare time, they also have a booth at the monthly Ballpark Flea Market. "It has all taken off a lot faster than we expected," Tait says. "There are really only a handful of boutiques in Denver, but we knew that the town was ready for something like this."

On the off chance they don't have what you want, Decade has a "wish book," where customers can write down exactly what they're looking for. "Say you collect cocktail shakers or vintage pottery, or maybe you want to know when we get new skirts in," Tait says. "We'll call you when we find it." Often, the biggest bargains can be scored while they're unloading the truck in front of the store. "We get new stuff every single day," Moore explains. "If you catch us before it's officially priced, that's when you get the really good deals."

Tait and Moore have been married for nine years and spend about six days a week at the store. They recognize the majority of the people who walk through the door. "Most of our customers are regulars," Moore says. "It seems like we know everybody's names."

"Our customers are everyone from teenagers who come in here to shop for clothing to grandmothers who like to see the old stuff that they grew up with," adds Tait. "You don't know what you're going to see, what you're going to find, and I think that intrigues people."

Although they travel to Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles to buy merchandise, they also make a point of supporting local designers and artists. "We've had a lot of people start their art careers here with us," Tait says. "We definitely like that."

But Decade's contents really are determined by the couple's personal preference. "We're shoppers," Moore says. "We buy what we like."