Who New? Retro Mod Decor is Leaving Lawrenceville
Roger Levine and Jeff Gordon are moving their vintage goods collection to an appointment-only warehouse in Turtle Creek. But first, they’re having a huge sale.
After more than 18 years in Lawrenceville, owners Roger Levine and Jeff Gordon are closing up Who New? Retro Mod Decor’s bright purple storefront along Butler Street — but that doesn’t mean they’re saying goodbye.
“People are very supportive of us,” Levine says. “They’re very happy when they find we’re not going out of business.
Instead, the couple, known as the “Who New? guys,” are transitioning a carefully curated selection of the shop’s vintage, Mid-Century Modern wares to a warehouse in Turtle Creek that will be open by appointment only.
“We’ll probably open a weekend a month,” Gordon says. “We’re trying to just take it slow.”
As for the rest of Who New?’s collection, Turn Key Liquidators is hosting a blowout sale Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20 featuring thousands of items that include everything from pottery and glassware to lighting and furniture.
Pioneers behind Lawrencveille’s revitalization efforts, the couple — who have been active in the nonprofit Lawrenceville Corporation — say a series of events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, led to their decision to close the storefront.
“COVID gave us time to reflect on what’s important and to reassess what we’re doing in our lives,” Levine says.
The shop closed for nine weeks during the state’s stay-at-home orders. During that time, the couple utilized contactless curbside pickup to sell items to people who saw them online or through the storefront windows.
“When we reopened, we were doing just fine because everyone was sitting at home and looking at their four walls and saying, ‘We should feature our nest,’” Gordon jokes, adding they limited the number of people allowed in the store. “We did very good business.”
However, once it dawned on the couple they could sell items without regular store hours, they reevaluated their business model — and their lifestyle. Besides running Who Knew?, Gordon is a veteran performer who spent time as a clown for Ringling Bros. and Disney, while Levine is a culinary instructor.
“We realized that we’re in our 60s and we want to spend more time living a life and not making a living,” Gordon says with a laugh.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to miss their storefront, which started as a solution to Gordon’s burgeoning vintage goods collection when it threatened to overtake the couple’s Point Breeze home.
“Jeff loves to shop and I’m going to stick to that one,” Levine says, noting Gorden’s collection filled the garage, den and a guest bedroom. “He has a great eye.”
After looking into storage facilities, the couple found it was cheaper at the time to rent a storefront in Lawrenceville for Gordon’s collection — and the store developed from there. After initially leasing a smaller location in 2002, the couple moved a short time later to their current 4,000 square-foot space.
Throughout the years, the couple worked to attract other businesses to the neighborhood, and also developed a client base that turned into friends. Gordon notes with pride that when tourists came to Pittsburgh, Who New? often was one of their must-see destinations.
“This decision to close the store is on our terms,” he says. “But the well wishes from our customer base have been overwhelming and very, very warm hearted.”
To learn more about Who New? Retro Mod Decor’s liquidation sale, visit here.