Aggie-owned small business Nostalgia Novelties offers sustainably sourced, pre-loved items for a reasonable price.
Run through Instagram by recent graduate Madaleine Merka, Class of 2021, Nostalgia Novelties is an antique and thrift shop based in Bryan. Though it was started less than a year ago, the account has grown quickly, its followers now totalling almost 2,500, many of whom are fellow Aggies. Merka said the business will continue to branch out and is planning to attend local markets and other vendor events.
Born and raised in College Station, Merka said growing up here gave her an advantage because she knows the best spots in town.
“I’ve always loved thrifting,” Merka said. “Before it really became a big thing, my family was always at garage sales and thrift stores, so it’s been a big part of my life.”
After years of collecting things, Merka said she realized she wanted to share her passion for thrifting with others.
“I wanted to share my style and things I find, but also emphasize the sustainability of it and how there are so many cool things out there, so you don’t have to buy everything new,” Merka said. “I hopped on the little trend of starting an Instagram shop and went from there.”
In November of 2020, Merka said she began accumulating inventory in a corner of her room.
“Then I ended up taking over the bedroom of my first apartment, and now I’m in a house, so I have that second bedroom and the garage,” Merka said. “It’s been a learning curve for sure, learning about shipping and the ins and outs of running a small business, but it’s been a fun almost-year.”
Merka said her buying and selling process is relatively uncomplicated, but can be a huge time commitment.
“Of course, I go to thrift stores and garage sales and estate sales, but it’s kind of like a network of people that have scouted items that I reach out to,’’ Merka said. “I bring them back home and clean them up and then curate a drop, picking things that go together in a fun way. I’ve started getting into Reels on Instagram and previewing all the items and then making my Instagram drafts and posting them for sale.”
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Merka said Nostalgia Novelties will make more in-person appearances like her recent one as a vendor at 12th Jam.
“It was a long day because we were there from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.,” Merka said. “It was honestly so fun to actually be able to interact with people instead of just messaging them and just getting a lot of exposure. I definitely did way better than I ever thought I would. It really inspired me to sign up for more events. I have one coming up in October and two more coming up that I haven’t really announced yet. I’m loving just branching out a bit. It adds more of a personal experience.”
Customer Sasha Adams, Class of 2019, said her experience buying items from Nostalgia Novelties has always been positive because of Merka’s knowledge of the items and flexible local pickup.
“Nostalgia Novelties has the cutest vintage items and at a reasonable price,” Adams said. “She is intentional about the pieces she chooses to showcase, and I truly believe that they’re one of a kind. She posts comparison prices, so you know that she’s done her research and knows what the item is actually worth. She’s a pleasure to work with.”
Also pleased with her experience, customer Margot Colville, Class of 2021, said her home decor might as well be sponsored by Nostalgia Novelties.
“I’ve gotten almost every home decor type item you can think of from her: shelves, framed art, plant stands, candlestick holders and more,” Colville said. “Everything has been so unique and in great condition.”