Fort Wayne is a popular place for vintage and resale items, from garage sales and antique stores to flea markets, clothing swaps, and Buy Nothing groups
But if you’re shopping for trendier, modern secondhand styles—like 80s, 90s, and early 2000s streetwear—there hasn’t always been a reliable source of locally curated goods. That’s something Gen Z business owners, Isaac Sparks, 20, and his partner, Caitlin Dostal, 19, noticed when they began dating and thrifting together in high school in 2016.
“Fort Wayne is one of those places where a lot of the current vintage shops sell items from the 1970s or earlier,” Dostal says. “And yet, there’s a big market of people here who are looking for more modern streetwear styles.”
They call their business Deadstock Vintage
, and they sell gently used items, ranging from popular sneakers, like Jordans, Dunks, Blazers, and Yeezys, to a colorful assortment of graphic tees, jeans, jackets, and knits. What’s more, they do it all at prices more affordable than you’re likely to find at the mall or at other vintage sellers.
Sparks says they intentionally base their prices at or below market value for similar items they see online and at other shops. Many clothing prices range from $5-$25.
“I think that’s why our business has done so well,” Sparks says. “Fort Wayne loves a deal. And when you’re reselling vintage items, it’s not too hard to give people a good deal.”
Sparks started selling vintage Tommy Hilfiger and Polo flannel shirts and sneakers online in high school. When he and Dostal started dating at New Tech Academy his sophomore year and her freshman year, they began working together and attending sales out of town, like ThriftCon Philly. In August 2021, they launched Deadstock Vintage on social media and quickly amassed followers and sales.
“Our Instagram took off,” Dostal says. “We felt like it was a sign.”
The couple opened their brick-and-mortar store inside Welcome Back Records at 3019 Broadway St. in February. Dostal’s stepfather, Morrison Agen, owns Welcome Back Records
. Since he closed his previous record store, Neat Neat Neat Records and Music in November 2019, Dostal says he’s been itching to open another shop. When he found a location for Welcome Back, he asked her and Sparks to join him as a way to grow both businesses under the same roof.
“It was the perfect timing for us,” Dostal says. “It’s a cool dynamic to have records and vintage items in the same space, too.”
In addition to selling items at Deadstock Vintage, she and Sparks also purchase consignment items from guests. So when customers visit Agen’s record store, many end up bringing back items to sell to Deadstock. In return, many of Deadstock’s customers end up getting into Agen’s records and CDs, too.
“Our businesses draw in similar crowds, and they feed off each other,” Dostal says. “It’s really taking off.”
Sparks is already working on a second vintage shop in Fort Wayne with one of his friends in the Georgetown area. It will specialize in sneakers and tees and likely open this fall, he says. He and Dostal are currently selling most of their inventory at the Broadway shop and on Instagram at @deadstockvintagefw
. They also have a presence on Facebook and the resale app Depop
Looking to the future, they plan to focus their efforts on cultivating a hyper-local following of customers in Fort Wayne, Dostal says. That’s one benefit of having a shop in the up-and-coming 46807 neighborhood about one mile from the new Electric Works
development on Broadway.
“It’s an ideal location,” Dostal says. “We love talking with our customers and getting to know what they’re looking for, so we can source and reserve items for them before we put them on the rack. Overall, we just want to be friends with our customers and even invite them to come thrifting with us.”
Sparks grew up on Cottage Avenue, a few blocks away from the shop. Now, he’s proud to own a business close to his roots.
“I grew up here, so when I think about the idea of being able to help the community I grew up in and the people I know here, that’s why I love what we do,” Sparks says. “We get to be part of this community.”
Local customers can attest that they’re filling a gap in the market, too. Ellie Goeglein, 22, and her friend, Jake Dunno, 23, stroll into the shop on a Wednesday afternoon in August and start flipping through a rack of $5 clothes.
“I got these shoes and this shirt here,” says Goeglein, pointing to her orange and yellow Nike hightops and her gray graphic tee. She lives nearby in the 07 and has already shopped at Deadstock Vintage several times since it opened in February.
Dunno has visited about three times. He enjoys Deadstock because it’s less time-intensive than other vintage and resale stores, where you have to sift for the good stuff.
“You don’t have to work as hard here,” he says. “They’ve already found it for you.”
Sparks says a lot of customers who visit the shop and see their inventory have the same reaction.
“People say: ‘Fort Wayne needed something like this,” he says. “The city really needed this.’”