In recent years it seems like vintage has become the new black. Wherever you turn, whether it’s in terms of fashion, art, or even home décor it’s the never-ending trend that everyone, regardless of your taste, adores. Well, we may have just jumped on that bandwagon. Taking a night stroll on Mar Mikhael after grabbing a bite to eat is part of our usual, we so happened to reach all the way to the end of the ever so crowded street when we found a little store, with the biggest charm. The name is self-explanatory and ever since we laid eyes on the sign, it was love at first vintage sight. For those of you who are vintage and antique collectors, Retro might be a place you visit as often as the supermarket, but for those of you who aren’t – it’s your one stop shop for all things cool and vintage – and we can’t wait to tell you about it.
After passing the last street that nearly ends Mar Mikhael, our eyes caught on to a small shop with a man sitting inside and our eyes instantly wandered with curiosity. As usual, we couldn’t help ourselves but walk in and meet the owner himself! Mahmoud Mechlaoui had a smile that basically lit up his entire shop. We were stunned to see such amazing posters, chandeliers, bottles, and gadgets that look like they came out of an 80’s movie! Even though the store itself wasn’t big, every inch of space from top to bottom, and left to right was covered with something! We knew right away there was a good story behind this place of charm.
Mahmoud Mechlaoui has been in the business of antiques for a little over 25 years. Ever since he was a little boy, he found himself constantly drawn to different forms of art – whether it be music or paintings, it was his hobby. When it was time for him to get married he had to choose a profession: either work as an engineer like his father or do something he truly loves, and to him it was a no brainer. Aside from writing for and selling songs to Madonna (the Lebanese one of course) collecting antiques was the closest thing he could get to his love of art and he was more than happy to take it. He opened his first shop in Basta where he was for 24 years until he re-located to his current store in Mar Mikhael. With so many objects hanging from ceiling to floor we had to ask, “Where do you find all these things!” Mahmoud smiled and said, “Well, over the years, just like you start collecting items you also start collecting connections. People started knowing my style of antiques and they would call me and tell me to come check out what they had for me. However, it’s not always through connections. I have to do a lot of the dirty work myself, meaning I have to go to the far cities in Lebanon, and even outside of Lebanon in order to find the valuables,” he said, “Just like a digger looking for diamonds.”
When you take a glance around the shop you notice that items on display in his store are more of a pop culture and vintage taste. Mahmoud didn’t always look for vintage items. He started off his business looking for items that have been around for more than 100 years – pure antiques, almost artifacts if you will. Then, as always, times have changed and people now are more into the objects of the 60’s and 70’s rather than the 1800’s. With that change, he felt like it was time for another one – he packed up things and after 25 years moved to Mar Mikhael. “The reason for my move was to get a glimpse of new energy; I love moving from place to place and grasping new forms of positivity, if it were up to me I would move somewhere new every month!”
“The number one reason why I truly love my job is because there is no routine, I am one of those people who is allergic to routine and I love that it allows me to do this.” With such a huge love for it we would hate to see it end! However, the fate of vintage collectors may be at stake. Mahmoud has one daughter and one son, but they are both doing their own thing and he hopes maybe one day his daughter might change her mind and continue his vintage legacy!
To get your vintage fix visit Retro on the main road of Mar Mikhael right after Mandaloun club.