The antykwariat Na Kazimierz in the basement below the Centre for Jewish Culture is like an old world gallery curated by an outlandish and eccentric hoarder. The collection is expansive. A stack of beaten leather trunks occupies a corner. Faded paintings with chipped frames hang at odd angles on the wall. Heaps of worn books create mountains made of words. Dusty glasses and bizarre figurines fill tabletops. There is a nearly endless assortment of relics and obsolete miscellanea.
As we walk in, Jake Moore exchanges the relaxed “Cześć” of a regular with the aging white-haired proprietor, himself an antique. Despite it being difficult to discern the floor, Jake is very familiar with the terrain and inventory from numerous visits. With keen vision, he discerns if there are any new arrivals in the shop. Among the junk, there are always a few masterpieces to find and Jake has developed this ability over many years and turned it into a successful online business.
“The trick to finding the good stuff is to search with an open mind. Over time, I’ve built up a mental database of what various items are worth, which ones sell quickly, etc. But in this business, I’m always coming across items I’ve never seen before and sometimes I just have to trust that if I find it fascinating, then someone else will too.”
As part of the process, it is also important to know when fascinating curiosities have little monetary value or a small market.
He picks up a slim cylinder. It is a diploma holder from Jagiellonian University dating from the early 1900’s. Nearby is a massive bible dwarfing most encyclopedias. It is richly illustrated by Gustav Doré but in tragic condition. Moving aside a few items to open an obstructed drawer, dated Polish maps and government medals are revealed. Nostalgic but little else.
This antykwariat is just one of many shops and markets on Jake’s scouting circuit. Although there are no purchases made today, he will definitely be coming back.
Path To Krakow
The journey from a small town in Texas to Poland began with a casual friendship with an exchange student who had a connection to Krakow. Years later in college, Jake paid a visit to this same friend and traveled a bit throughout Central Europe. Although unimpressed by Vienna, he found Krakow’s grit in the late 1990’s intoxicating, a time when the Main Square had but a handful of cafes and the historic facades were still unrestored. Things began to roll from there. Back at the University of Texas, he began studying Polish. This led to a semester at Jagiellonian University. Many visits to Krakow were to follow and although the city has changed dramatically the fascination and affection for it has endured.
Meanwhile, a career in architecture and design led to creating interiors for bars and restaurants with vintage themes and Jake began to source old fashioned and dated items for these establishments. Now in Washington DC, he was going to flea markets and estate sales finding unusual and unique objects. Soon, antique searching took on a life of its own and an online business was created.
Ultimately these two threads of finding and selling antiques along with the love of Krakow were able to merge and in the summer of 2016, Jake made the big move to Poland.
Cleveland Park Vintage
Cleveland Park Vintage is Jake’s online business that specializes in rare, high-quality antiques and vintage collectibles. A parallel business, Omniterrum, focuses on unique globes. These days almost all the items are sourced in Krakow but the pursuit of unique finds have led to trips throughout Europe. The best way to browse is on the @clevelandparkvintage instagram account. A knowledge of design and a particular style connects all the pieces available for purchase in the online shop that showcases the most intriguing items found rummaging through local flea markets and little-known antique shops. Or, if you are looking for something in particular, Jake can track it down-
Although most of the sales are to the United States, Jake works out of his flat in Kazimierz. If you want to buy something for your home or as a gift, you can pick up in Krakow. Use coupon code KRAKOWIST20 to enjoy a 20% discount on your purchase.