The Communicator

The Communicator

The Communicator

State Street Just Got More Vintage

A college student started his own small business selling vintage clothes out of his family’s restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor.
Emmy Chung

Mareen Miftiu grew up helping his parents run their Albanian-American restaurant, AMA Bistro, the name being the first initials of his and his sibling’s names: Ashley, Mareen and Aidan. When they moved to Ann Arbor in 2015, they bought a unit for their restaurant in the center of the University of Michigan’s campus — State Street. Now, he uses the space to hold vintage pop-up clothing sales in the evenings.

When Miftiu moved back to Michigan in April of 2023 after playing soccer in Europe, he had a void to fill. Soccer was his life, and deciding he wasn’t going to pursue it anymore opened up a space for something new. He had always had passion for clothes in general, and having seen people on social media selling funny t-shirts, he was influenced to purchase a heat press, and tons of plain Hanes t-shirts, creating a website with the plan of fulfilling orders as they came in.

Emmy Chung

But he found more success in thrifting items with his girlfriend, Senna Neubauer. They started out thrifting locally, soon realizing that the stores in Ann Arbor were picked over by college students. This led them to take day trips to Chicago, IL and Northern Michigan to explore thrift stores they wouldn’t even expect to have anything. Miftiu and Neubauer quickly discovered that together they had an eye for finding hidden gems.

“You see these shirts and you’re like ‘Oh, this is actually worth something’ and look it up to see how much they’re selling it for,” Neubauer said. “And it’s pretty easy to do, it’s just time-consuming, and over the summer we just had a lot of time. ”

The more they did it, the more valuable pieces accumulated in their collection. Miftiu decided that this was something worth pursuing. He started the business with the intention of it being just him, but Neubauer helped him every step of the way, influencing the idea of running Ama Vintage together.

Neubauer can recall the details of their first pop-up sale, which was held in the driveway of her house.

“We just put up some signs and we were so happy we had one girl knock on my door at 1o AM and we were open at two,” Neubauer said, “I think she was like ‘Hey can I look at your stuff’ and we were like oh my gosh we have a customer.”

Since then, they’ve held five pop-up sales, the crowd attending these sales being mostly teens and college students — their targeted group when it comes to picking out clothing; Sportswear, Harley Davidson, Michigan gear, Carhart, Patagonia, and North Face are among the trendy picks they look for.

“I’ve learned over the past few months how to tell what’s vintage, but a lot of people have no idea,” Miftiu said. “How we get our stuff is based on how cool it looks too. It’s not just like, is it from the ‘70s, because I’ve seen t-shirts from the ‘70s or ‘80s that I won’t buy even though it’s two dollars because no matter how vintage it is, it has no price.”

Emmy Chung

The amount that items are sold for is based on the materials, where it was made, and when it’s from. Once they identify the item, they search for similar pieces online to see what they’re being sold for and drop the price. Ama Vintage aims to sell things for much more affordable prices than what you would see online or from other resellers.

Miftiu and Neubauer hope to continue doing pop-ups once a month throughout the school year, but they’re unsure of where it may take them in the future. For now, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about how to run a business while being in college.

“I have my own thing going for myself because I’ve grown up my whole life with my parents and helping my parents with their business and seeing how they run their business,” Miftiu said. “And just the ability to run my own thing and be able to make my own decisions and build up a business on my own is fun for me.”

Miftiu believes that everything fell into place when it came to starting Ama Vintage, and is lucky to have this opportunity and what could come of it.

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About the Contributor
Emmy Chung
Emmy Chung, Journalist
Emmy is going into her fifth semester on the Communicator staff. She is excited for what the year will bring and finally being a senior! She spends most of her time playing soccer, which she has played since the age of six. Emmy enjoys being outside as the weather gets colder, going on long runs, and discovering new coffee shops.

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