The co-op specializes in affordable vintage home goods, and has always attracted a younger clientele. Foot traffic to the stores, in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is now close to pre-pandemic levels.
But it’s on Instagram where business is booming. Before the pandemic, the store’s Instagram feed was more of a marketing tool, with most of the co-op’s 72,000 followers visiting for inspiration. Now they’re there to shop, with internet sales accounting for 50 percent of the co-op’s business, up from 25 percent a year ago.
“Before we would sort of post to encourage foot traffic, like, ‘Hey, here are a lot of new things we brought in, come visit the store,’” said Ms. Wagner. “Now it’s literally like, ‘This item is for sale at this price, here are the dimensions.’”
Design from the 1980s is particularly popular among customers in their 20s and early 30s, who are drawn to the colorful, whimsical aesthetic. “It reminds them of their parents’ furniture so they’re attracted to it,” Ms. Wagner said.
Sellers of vintage and antique goods say their clientele has become better educated about design through social media. There is simply more time to tumble through internet rabbit holes of leather and walnut. What’s the point of all those endless Zoom meetings if you can’t spend the time you’re on mute scrolling 1stDibs, ogling an electric-blue glam-rock metal and marble Ettore Sottsass side table from the 1970s for $4,500? Follow a few Instagram hashtags like #vintagedecor or #vintagehome — each with well over 2 million posts — and you can escape into a world of credenzas and coffee tables.
There’s also the Zoom room shame effect. We worry that our virtual co-workers are silently playing their own private game of Room Rater, judging our bookshelves, houseplants and lighting on a scale of one to 10, just like the popular Twitter account.
Position a leather Hardoy butterfly chair with its scooped, hammock-like body and iron legs in the corner of the camera frame, maybe with a fiddle leaf fig towering behind it, and your otherwise unmemorable background is suddenly a 10. In this era, the home office is the new work wardrobe — you may never get dressed anymore, but your backdrop certainly can.