Meet the owner of Gadabout Victoria Dinnick

How did Gadabout Vintage come about?  The name of the store is actually Gadabout. I opened the store in 1997 on Markham St. while working a full-time position in the corporate world.  I had had a booth at the Harbourfront Antique market and loved buying and selling antiques, nostalgia, ephemera and vintage clothing and textiles. 

What is its history? I had wanted a store since I was about 12 years old but life and other careers intervened.  I finally decided that if I was going to start my own business I’d need to keep my day-job (corporate) and start my career of choice on the side.  That meant working 7 days a week.  I managed to do it for 5 years before letting go of the corporate world to focus on my business (and true love) Gadabout.

Who founded it?  Victoria Dinnick (that would be me)

Where does the name Gadabout come from?  It’s a word that was popularized in the 1920s.  You’ll find it in the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchannon was a Gadabout, so for that matter, were Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda.  The actual definition is  gadabout \GAD-uh-bout\, is someone who roams about in search of amusement or social activity. Gadabout is formed from the verb gad, “to rove or go about without purpose or restlessly” (from Middle English gadden, “to hurry”) + about.

How are the pieces chosen?  They’re selected for quality, individuality, desirability and scarcity —  everything from the sad and pathetic to ‘drop dead gorgeous’.  I do a lot of work with Film and theatre so I can purchase a very wide range of quality.  The depression years often call for well worn items, not top-of-the-line.

  • Where do they come from?  ? At the beginning I went to auctions and scoured thrift shops and the like.  Now I’m spoiled because 90 per cent of my merchandise comes from ‘house calls’.  The store has a good reputation and great word-of-mouth so I’m called by people who are looking after downsizing from the family home of 40 years to a condo or retirement home.  Most of my treasures come directly out of their closets, basements or attics.

Who acquires them? Me. I have personally purchased everything that you’ll find in the store.  Gadabout doesn’t do consignment.

  • How did your love for vintage finds develop?  .  I went to my first auction in 1988 and took to buying odds and sods like a duck to water.  Selling was a natural progression and I started at St. Lawrence market in 1990 and then moved to the Harbourfront Antique Market.  I opened Gadabout in 1997 and was finally able to quit my corporate job and just ‘do’ the store meaning just work at one job in 2002.  I love what I do and it hasn’t felt like work since the day Gadabout opened. 
  • What are your most popular finds?  Mad men’s attention to detail (going so far as to tell actresses to stop working out because their arms are too toned as well as other areas!) has really made women think about looking like women again and not the general unisex look that seems to have stuck with us since the 70s.  They’re looking for pretty dresses again for daywear and shapely cocktail dresses to party in.
  •  I think that there’s a growing awareness that current fashion borrows heavily from the past whether it be a shape, a detail or a trend.  The media loves to hunt out the vintage equivalent of the latest runway item and do a price comparison if only to prove that one can be “current” on a budget by finding vintage pieces. The public is also being swayed by well-known actors adding vintage pieces to their strolls down the red carpet and elsewhere.

What collections do you have the most of?   I cover the end of the 1800s to the mid 1980s.  I don’t have a lot of 1910 – 1919 but everything else is pretty abundant.

Is there a specific time period that you have an abundance of items from?  I have an abundance of everything but Gadabout doesn’t deal in t-shirts or denim.

How is everything organized?  By waist size in inches.

  • What advice would you give on wearing vintage fashion?  ?  “Caveat emptor”  If you’re buying online take all descriptions with a grain of salt.  I’ve seen items that I have sold to a customer end up on ebay with a description that is worthy of a Pulitzer price but that is pure fiction.  My best piece of advice is if you love it, buy it.  Vintage stores usually only find one of that very perfect- for-you unique item and, when you go back a week later after thinking it over, if it’s gone it’s gone and they can’t order you another one.  It’s better to own it and resell than pine for it for a decade.   Also the best vintage resource I’ve found is the Vintage Fashion Guild site  It’s a fabulous reference for all things vintage. 

What is your vintage style philosophy?  If you’re spending money buy it to wear, not for shock value. It shouldn’t look like a costume, it should look like it was made for you. 

What is your personal favourite item and why?  A pair of pants from the 1920s that I wear to death.  I feel like Amelia Earhart when I’m wearing them and all things are possible.