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A bright addition to Brockville: The Boho Abode brings vintage to town
Sarah King, owner of The Boho Abode. Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

A bright addition to Brockville: The Boho Abode brings vintage to town


A pink facade on the main drag in Brockville, Ont., yields vintage treasures within

Fresh advice about old stuffEd. note: The Boho Abode permanently closed its retail location in spring 2022 as owner Sarah King moved provinces.

The pink paint on Sarah King’s new storefront in downtown Brockville, Ont. had barely dried this spring when she had curious onlookers trying to sneak a peek at what might be inside.

“We had so many people excited about the colour, let alone what was going in the store,” Sarah says with a laugh.

She opened the stained-glass door to The Boho Abode for the first time on June 17, shortly after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Ontario.

Since then, Sarah’s collection of vintage home decor and furniture has transformed what was once a goldsmith’s shop into an eclectic shopping destination on the city’s main drag.  

“I think seeing a new, exciting store coming in is making other people also want to come to Brockville,” says Sarah. The city of 21,000 people is just over an hour’s drive southwest from Ottawa, and about 30 minutes from the town where Sarah herself lives. “It’s not that far. And it's beautiful.”

A living room decorated with a high-backed wicker loveseat, brass chairs upholstered in chocolate brown velvet, and various accent pieces including a circular glass-topped coffee table, sculptural floral lamp, and seashell-inspired vases with dried flowers and grasses.
“I've always wanted to own a store,” Sarah says. “I never knew it was going to be a vintage store specifically or if it was going to be a boutique combining different things that I loved. But it feels so right.” Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

Free-spirited finds

If the pink exterior is what draws people into the shop, it’s Sarah’s careful curation of vintage goodies that keeps them coming back.

Stylish bar carts, velvet-upholstered dining chairs, rattan shelving units and a whole lot of brass are in steady rotation at the shop, as are a small collection of items from local artisans, including prints by illustrator Sabina Fenn, polymeric clay earrings by Kitschy Cactus Clay, and stained glass by Ray of Light Studio.

The showstopper is just beyond the door: a pink tessellated stone console table with its legs carved into tusks, topped by a gigantic circular mirror that reflects the vintage treasures inside the store.

It’s a Maitland-Smith set from 1973 that Sarah scooped up at the estate sale of a woman who was once a high-profile client of an Ottawa-based company. Having never seen anything similar in her sourcing expeditions, Sarah called the company directly to inquire about the set’s provenance.

A chalk-pink hutch surrounded by houseplants reflected in a large circular mirror framed in pink marble suspended above a dramatic tusk-shaped console table.
This rare Maitland-Smith console set is what King calls her all-time best find. Photo: The Boho Abode

It’s one of only 100 or 150 ever manufactured, made rarer because of a brass stamp bearing the Maitland-Smith insignia, rather than a more commonly seen printed stamp. Sarah says the set routinely stops people in their tracks when they enter the store — and so does the price tag at $12,950.

But no fear: there are plenty of other pieces that are easier on the wallet at The Boho Abode. Sarah prides herself on her mix of high and low, which incidentally echoes the bohemian philosophy she brings to decorating.

A bright green broadleaf monstera plant placed in front of a brass-framed glass shelving unit containing vases with dried flowers next to a bamboo ladder draped with a cream-coloured quilt with tassels.
“I remember being a kid, always looking around at [my grandma’s] stuff wanting to know the history,” Sarah says. “You know how people will go to someone else’s house and be like, ‘Where's the dog?’ I'm like, “Where’s the dog — but secondly, where's that one-of-a-kind vintage item that I can ask about?’ There’s always something!” Photo: The Boho Abode

“Not everything I source is boho, but I find there's always some sort of bohemian aspect that's thrown into how I style things,” she says. “Bohemian doesn't necessarily mean what a lot of people see it as, like wicker. I love wicker — my house is filled with it, my store has a lot of it — but to me, bohemian just means free-spirited.

“Let’s say I have a really cool, mid-century modern item that wouldn't necessarily be considered ‘boho.’ Styling it the way I want is what makes it bohemian to me. That's kind of what I'm trying to do with the store — I'm trying to achieve that in an unconventional way, where people go in and just feel inspired.”

‘A stepping stone’

Sarah got her start in vintage curation five years ago after planning her wedding and finding it difficult to source furniture and decor rentals that matched her vintage-inspired style. So she built up her own inventory of vintage rentals and became a vendor in the events industry.

“It was the stepping stone to where I am today, because the items that I was curating for my rental line are exactly what I source now for my store,” she says.

Portrait of the seller with shoulder-length dyed hair wearing a wide-brimmed cream hat and holding a disco ball while standing in her showroom and looking directly into the camera.
“From a young age I used to go to a thrift store and try to style myself for $10,” Sarah says. “That transitioned when I moved out into, ‘Let me find really cool vintage items for my apartment.’ You can do it all on a budget, and you don't need to wait till you have a house.” Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

She still offers many of her vintage furniture and decor items as rentals. “And I had also been selling on and off for years, ‘unofficially,’ just on Kijiji — I feel like everything's unofficial until it's on Instagram!”

When Sarah and her husband purchased their 1901 heritage home, she started documenting her decorating journey on Instagram as The Boho Abode so her family and friends could follow along. Over time, people asked if she would consider selling her finds, or if she would offer design or sourcing services.

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So when her event bookings dried up at the onset of the pandemic, Sarah had her answer about what she’d do next. She began selling full-time on Instagram and planning for the storefront she’d always dreamed of.

“I look back at my first drop — it was rough — and I don't know how people started following me,” she laughs. “But it grew really organically and the giveaways definitely got the word around.”

Closeup of a woman with mint-coloured nail polish holding a shiny brass figurine shaped like a Stegosaurus.
Sarah’s advice for new sellers? “Just go for it and don't look back. Don't second guess yourself. There'll be the naysayers, there'll be the haters big and small, but don't let them defeat you and your goals,” she says. “No one knows you better than you. So invest in yourself, invest in your brand and stay authentic to you.” Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

Building engagement

Since opening, Sarah has focused on her in-person clientele, though she still maintains her website presence and interacts with her 4,600-strong Instagram followers nearly every day. She sees her social media presence as integral to her brand-building.

“One follower is one more person [to know my brand],” she says. “I know not all of them are paying clients and some people just want to support my store and see what I’m up to – but if they were outside my store, that would be a huge deal. That’s how I look at it.”

Finding the right balance between her professional and personal life on social media is a crucial part of Sarah's business strategy. “When I’m shopping from independent business owners, I want to know who the person is that I'm buying from,” she says.

A vintage living room containing a large low-backed sectional sofa upholstered in burgundy velvet beneath an ornate oval-shaped brass mirror reflecting a brass floor lamp and shelving unit.
“The tourists coming into town have been so complimentary,” King shares. “And the locals are blown away by the evolution of the store,” which used to be a goldsmith’s shop. Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

“That was super important to me, and I think that reflects in the community that I've built to my followers, that they actually know who I am as a person.” She regularly shares information in her Instagram Stories about social justice initiatives, from advancing Indigenous and LGBTQ+ rights to supporting the homeless community in Brockville.

Having a bricks-and-mortar location to manage presents new opportunities to engage with her clients. “I just love people. I love interaction. I realize [that] online is the future. But I don't think it always has to be. There's something so exciting about walking into a store that was designed by somebody specifically,” she says.

“There are so many successful sellers out there who are strictly online. But it was always my goal to have a store. In times where I wasn't sure I could even open [during COVID] or if I was making the right decision and felt slightly defeated, I tried to stay positive and optimistic and tell myself, ‘You've always wanted this, this is the right path.’

“That was my best business decision, just to keep going with it.”

Closeup of a sculpture of a human head rendered in amber glass with similar pieces of different colours in the background.
“I would love to be able to take all the really cool stores from Instagram and throw them all together in one room,” King says. “That collectiveness of really cool, invested, authentic sellers would be a dream.”  Photo: The Boho Abode/Laura Collins

Working together

Now that she’s established her shop in Brockville, Sarah says becoming more engaged with the local business community is high on her to-do list. She plans to host pop-up events and markets at the store, bringing in other Instagram vintage sellers as well as complementary vendors such as record sellers, breweries and local boutiques.

She also has a forthcoming line that will mix vintage items from The Boho Abode with beadwork by Stephanie Peltier, an Indigenous artist and owner of Deliaestelle Designs, with a percentage of proceeds going to an Indigenous charity.

Sarah says her journey has been enriched by the camaraderie among online vintage sellers, because she knows she can count on someone in her network to have more information about a piece when her own searches turn up empty.

“We all spent countless hours researching and gaining knowledge of designers and eras associated with the items that we source and it shows,” she says.

“The online collective of sellers right now is unbelievable and, honestly, it's been an amazing experience.”

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