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Blue Bandana Relics owner Keith Tate. Photo by Ryan DiLello. Copyright 2023 Ryan DiLello.
Blue Bandana Relics owner Keith Tate. Photo by Ryan DiLello. Copyright 2023 Ryan DiLello.

New Somerville Ave Location Part of Bow Market Expansion

(Somerville Wire) – One of Bow Market’s long-standing tenants, vintage shop Blue Bandana Relics, is moving to a new location on Somerville Ave this fall. 

Blue Bandana is one of several stores relocating to the new space Bow Market purchased last year, which extends the market’s footprint onto Somerville Ave.

“I consider it an honor to be able to open a small retail shop in Union Square, right on Somerville Ave. There’s not a whole lot of those. I’m really proud to graduate to that space after five years here, and to take a chance. It’s a big risk, but I’m a big risk-taker,” said Keith Tate, owner of Blue Bandana Relics.

After twenty years in the building trade, Tate turned to selling vintage goods full-time in 2018. Blue Bandana Relics is the realization of a lifetime obsession with old stuff. 

“It’s in my blood,” Tate said as he described a lower-middle-class upbringing that involved regular stops at flea markets, yard sales and trash heaps. Tate’s father worked in furniture restoration; his stay-at-home mother was an artist who “curated” their house.

“Those who collect might have a narrow taste or an eye for a certain type of thing. But I don’t chase any kind of trend or operate like that. It’s really about where I am in my life and what I feel people need to see. That all changes with no rhyme or reason,” he said.

Tate said the new shop will be a “vintage meets general store.” Alongside vintage flannels, flags, home decor, and other oddities, Tate said he will offer modern, mostly locally-sourced, accouterments, and accessories that “still fit the ‘mantique’ aesthetic.”

But first in store for Blue Bandana relics’ new location: a pricey buildout of $70,000. 

“That figure was essentially a non-starter for me,” Tate said. “So I’ve put a lot of sweat equity into it: wall demos, painting, refinishing the floors …” he said, heaving a bag of floor staples onto the counter. 

“I’ve got about 25% of the floor left to do. I probably have about 10 hours into that alone. I’m trying to preserve the pinewood,” he said, beaming into the pile of bent nails.

“I want to keep the building as original as possible. It just fits my vibe—it’s rustic. There’s some beautiful wainscoting. There was also original horsehair plastering, which I had to get rid of. It’s very brittle stuff. A hundred years ago this location had horse stables. It’s very possible that the plaster was made here on site. That’s all gone, but the wainscot is staying.”

Tate is chipping away at the quote from a general contractor, but Bow Market will host a cocktail fundraising event on Thursday, August 17, to help support the space’s new tenants.

“We’re about two months out from opening and I’m so excited,” Tate said.

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Ryan DiLello is the staff reporter for the Somerville Wire

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