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ISU alum’s vintage clothing vendor makes their way Bloomington-Normal

Written by on March 31, 2023

Photo provided by BloNo Vintage Market

NORMAL, Ill. –  This Saturday, Illinois Vintage Fest will be a part of the BloNo Vintage Market in Bloomington on April 1 at DESTHIL Brewery.

Founders of Illinois Vintage Fest (IVF), Shayne Kelly and Ben Justice, have hosted 11 IVF events all across Illinois. Kelly elaborated on how these smaller events can be an intimate experience for both the vendors and customers. 

“What’s good about the smaller events is it’s more of an internment experience,” Kelly said. “You get more one on one time with the vendor and figure out what they like to curate and why they brought the certain items that they did. You get to connect with your local vintage dealer with the things that you might like. The other events are free for all shopping experiences.

This weekend’s event has a significant emotional connection to co-founder Ben Justice. Justice is an alumni of Illinois State University, where he first fell in love with vintage clothing.

“I think when me and Shane first started doing events together I always had Bloomington-Normal, specifically ISU,” said Justice. “Being a Redbird alum I know a ton of different places in Bloomington-Normal. That is why we’re going to DESTHIL. As cliché as it sounds I think it’s a dream come true because it’s where I got started.”

“I did a couple of different events on campus while I was there for different organizations I was involved in,” said Justice. “I always saw the potential for a different type of event to be there. Obviously, there are so many different college kids there but also there are a bunch of families there as well… So we want to provide an experience for students, families, and people who live in town to have when they come to the BloNo Vintage Market and for future events for people who live in Bloomington-Normal.”

Kelly explained the first event he did himself and how not only it inspired him to work with his co-founder, but how it inspired the entire concept of Illinois Vintage Fest.

“It actually took place in my parent’s front yard,” Shayne said. “We had 800 people in a subdivision shopping vintage in someone’s front yard. The neighbors were very upset. But to be honest, it kickstarted this whole crazy vintage shopping experience that we wanted to create and that’s how me and Ben started working together.”

The first Illinois Vintage Fest took place in 2020. There weren’t many expectations for the future. Now they’ve hosted 11 fests. With this promising start to their local brand, they have big goals for their future. 

“I definitely see this growing into something much bigger than it already is,” Ben said. “We’ve done plenty of successful events. Obviously, we want to grow to be the biggest vintage event in the entire world. We have very big goals. Whether that’s in the Chicago-land area or central Illinois, Southern Illinois, Illinois will always be our hub. We want to bring the best possible events and experiences to Illinois. In the future we see it growing and getting much bigger.”