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Member spotlight: Sarah Israel, Dwelling on the Past
Sarah Israel, Dwelling on the Past. Photo: Jessilyn Wong/courtesy Dwelling on the Past

Member spotlight: Sarah Israel, Dwelling on the Past


Vintage Sellers Community member and reseller Sarah Israel shares how she got into thrifting, and her best tip for researching vintage items

We’ve started regularly highlighting members of the Vintage Sellers Community on our site and we’re excited to introduce you to Sarah Israel, founder of Dwelling on the Past in Toronto, Ont.

Find yourself fixating on days gone by? At Dwelling on the Past, it’s encouraged. Sarah’s collection of vintage and secondhand home goods are deeply rooted in nostalgia — kitschy needlepoints share her Instagram grid with items such as warm bamboo trays and grandma’s glassware.

Get to know Sarah below!

What is Dwelling on the Past all about?

Sarah Israel: Dwelling on the Past offers thoughtfully-curated vintage and secondhand home goods. My shop is a perfect mix of thrifted treasures, vintage items and refurbished furniture pieces.

What else should people know about your shop?

SI: I love to thrift on a mission and am always happy to keep an eye out for items for my customers, so send me your special requests and I’ll add them to my list!

When I have my heart set on something, I don’t give up! [That’s] why my husband and I ended up getting married three times.

We had a tiny wedding with four guests at the height of the pandemic, followed by an outdoor wedding in my parents’ backyard since they could no longer travel to Toronto, and finally got to have our big postponed celebration with all our friends in 2022.

Selection of vintage decor items from Dwelling on the Past including books and objects
Photo: Dwelling on the Past

What’s the first moment you remember having a passion for vintage? What happened?

I’ve been thrifting since I was a kid — my dad is a lifelong collector who never could resist a “garage sale this way” sign, and he passed this trait on to me.

I still remember paying a dollar for a VHS copy of Heathers as a kid and watching it until the tape fell apart. (Not the most appropriate movie for a 12-year-old, but it was a different time!)

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Why do you think shoppers should consider vintage?

Vintage/secondhand is better for the planet and for our wallets. We don’t need to create new things; we just need to love, repair and repurpose existing things to incorporate them into our lives.

Vintage barware and pottery from Dwelling on the Past
Photo: Dwelling on the Past

What’s something you’ve learned over the course of selling vintage that you want to share with others?

Use all the resources at your disposal to understand the context in which an object was created and used! With some research, you can learn so much about the way people lived and what was important to them at the time.

I have a history degree and there’s nothing I love more than to fall down a rabbit hole when researching an item. Beyond Google/Google Lens and books, I try to cultivate relationships with other vintage sellers and antique dealers in my area, so I can reach out to them for more information about a piece if I have questions.

Upcycled and refinished vintage furniture from Dwelling on the Past
Photo: Dwelling on the Past

Where can customers find you and how can they buy your items?

Online at dwellingonthepast.ca or @dwellingonthepast on Instagram. Or shop in-person at the Society Clubhouse at 967 College St. in Toronto. And check out the Shop FAQ pinned post at the top of my IG profile to learn how to make a purchase!

Have a question or comment for Sarah at Dwelling on the Past? Let us know in the comments below!

Interested in becoming a member of the Vintage Sellers Community? Find out more here!

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