a.circle-widget-trigger svg { display: none; } a.circle-widget-trigger { background-image: url( https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/63e253c5214088e885dc9539/6470e96a73d05fa30985020c_people-group-solid.svg; });
‘A fresh start’: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift opens in Nova Scotia
Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift opened June 5. Photo: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift

‘A fresh start’: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift opens in Nova Scotia


Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift opened in Lunenburg, N.S. on June 5, reflecting shop owner Eilidh MacDonald’s love for 1970s–era clothing and accessories

When Eilidh MacDonald first walked into the pink-sided heritage building in Nova Scotia that now houses her store Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift, it was kismet.

Located in the centre of Lunenburg, a designated UNESCO Heritage Site, the small space was a gem. Wood-panelled and cozy, it looked like a portal to the past — which is exactly what Eilidh wants clients to experience when they visit.

She says the shop reminded her of a walk-in closet — a blank but warm canvas where “the clothing would really pop.”

As the pandemic forced Eilidh to reassess her career path, the idea of opening a bricks-and-mortar store started to feel like the next logical step.

Portrait of the seller with long wavy brown hair wearing a blue, yellow, and magenta floral dress while standing next to an illuminated ceramic desk lamp with a white shade and a brown fur coat with a fluffy white collar displayed on a dress form.
Eilidh MacDonald, owner of Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift, in her new shop. She says that while vintage seeking, she finds plenty of simple vintage dresses indicative of Maritime style. “But I love when I find super glam items, because I'm like, who was wearing this and where were they going?” she says. “I’m shopping in rural Nova Scotia!” Photo: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift

A born entrepreneur, she’d spent her childhood peddling homemade jewellery to friends in her backyard, and her university days organizing clothing swaps and selling unwanted clothes out of her dorm room. “Thrifting has actually been the most consistent thing in my life,” she says.

Eilidh, a teacher originally from Port Hawkesbury, N.S., had moved to Dawson City, Yukon for a teaching stint and was there bartending when COVID-19 hit. She decided to wait out the pandemic with family in her home province, which is when the wheels started turning.

“I was thrifting all the time as a coping mechanism for the stress,” she says, laughing. “I was ready for a fresh start.”

The plan was always to open a physical store, but COVID-19 had other ideas. In November 2020, Eilidh launched Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift as an e-commerce website and Instagram shop. The name has special meaning to Eilidh — her birthstone is pearl, her mother’s name translates to “pearl,” and her given name, Eilidh Margaret, means “shining pearl.”

The word “pearl” had been a constant presence in her life. Growing up, Eilidh would often see antique Canadian Woodenware washboards branded with the Pearl name. “I always had one on my shelf,” she remembers. “I’d think, one day when I have a shop, that's going in it.”

By April 2021, she’d signed a two-year lease and, on June 5, opened the store to the public. “I was unlocking the door on day one and I had to wait a few minutes because I just started bawling,” she says. “Like, oh my god, this is real.”

Join our community of sellers

Learn more

‘Something for everyone’

Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift specializes in 1970s–era clothing and accessories, though Eilidh says her tastes run wide. She also stocks T-shirts from the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s, and a range of Levi’s and other denim.

“I have a very eclectic mix because some of the ’70s polyesters aren't the most wearable today,” she says. “I keep it gender- and size-inclusive. I just want it to be a shop where you come in with a friend and there's something for everyone.”

Portrait of the seller with outstretched arm and a wide smile while wearing a thigh-length buttoned dress with a psychedelic pattern of hot pink, fluorescent blue, and lime green, paired with bright blue leather pumps, in front of a garage door painted mustard yellow and cerulean.
“There’s so many unexpected things with opening a business,” Eilidh says. “I signed a lease right before the lockdown and settled back into online mode — then had less than a week’s notice that stores would be allowed to open. You just have to roll with the punches.” Photo: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift

In addition to walk-ins, Eilidh also offers shipping across Canada for a fee, and personal virtual shopping by appointment, where she helps clients to select pieces over FaceTime.

She often goes on sourcing excursions with her friend and boyfriend, who provide a critical second and third take on what items might sell. “When I'm thrifting, I always ask for a second opinion, because I know that I can have these ‘excited eyes’ and need to calm down,” she says.

Eilidh credits online Instagram sellers for helping her further develop her vintage-buying knowledge. Now, when hunting for more modern pre-loved pieces, she routinely looks for higher-end fabric such as silk and linen that will stand the test of time.

“There are so many beautiful clothes out there,” she says. “There's more than we can ever wear.”

The seller wearing heart-shaped sunglasses with a white frame in front of a colourful street mural depicting scenes from Atlantic Canada.
Eilidh, who has been thrifting since she was a kid, says that vintage clothing is the first thing she wants to find when she travels. “I think it tells so much about a place and about its style and the history,” she says. “It’s a really cool way to get souvenirs.” Photo: Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift

A community space

Pearl’s Vintage & Thrift will host its grand opening on June 20, with music and entertainment provided by friends and local musicians. “I want to create a space where there happens to be clothes, but you can also just come to chat if you love vintage clothing,” Eilidh says.

She plans to eventually host events for other sellers at the shop, and take Pearl’s onto the road in her 1970s van to vintage markets in Nova Scotia.

Eilidh says she’s still in pinch-me mode about opening her own shop. “It doesn't seem like something that you care about this much can just happen and then it just is,” she says.

“It was a lot of work to get here, but looking back you forget about that. I'm here now and this is a real thing I’ve created.”

A fresh take on all things old.
Get our free newsletters

Join our seller support network

Become a member
Become a member