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    A large ripe banana sign points down a small alley, where more bananas painted on the ground lead to Vintage Banana, a clothing store in the heart of the Highlands near Eastern Parkway. Inside, owner Josh Dunning stands behind a counter, sorting through colorful polos. White Christmas lights line the ceiling. Clothing racks fill the small, organized shop and vintage novelties clutter the walls. Two vintage TVs play static. There’s a bunny suit head and a Snoopy doll with X’s on his eyes.

    Dunning, who says he’s “30-ish-ish,” can’t bear to see vintage clothing not being worn. He “killed it” when he sold vintage finds at the Flea Off Market for the first time, and decided to move his pop-up/eBay business into a brick-and-mortar early in 2015. He and his wife, Brittney, started off in Germantown before moving to the current location. The alley reminded him of a hidden-away shop in Chicago he loves called Ragstock. “I came to check this spot out because I liked it, it’s in the middle of the mix of everything, but it’s got the hidden vibe,” he says. “You have to go down the alley, and once you get back here, it’s like, Ahh, this is cool.”

    Inside the shop, the vintage hits you. It’s all unique and one-of-a-kind clothing. Dunning especially likes ’70s style, and he’s always on the lookout for new inventory. If something has that indescribable cool quality, it’ll find a home on his racks. “It’s something you can’t get at the mall. It’s something that’s not overproduced,” Dunning says. “You can get your own unique style from vintage clothing; you can build it yourself. It’s stuff that no one else is going to have.”

    Bootleg clothing from the ’90s imitating brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci are making a comeback in Dunning’s shop right now. “Cause you gotta think: There wasn’t as many bootlegs as the real things, and the bootlegs are over-the-top designs,” Dunning says. “They kind of look bad, which makes them look good. So, it makes them more rare.” Women’s Levi high-waisted shorts are another high-demand commodity. Dunning has a hard time keeping them in stock.

    One of Dunning’s favorite shirts is a white T with a picture of Donald Duck with a mohawk and a medieval morning star. The shirt reads, “Who the @#!!@ is Mickey Mouse?!” and Donald has a tattoo of a heart with the words “Fuck Walt Disney.” Dunning says someone would have to pay him a good price to get him to sell it.

    So, why the name? Dunning and his wife own a three-foot-tall stuffed banana they like to call Banunu. Banunu goes on vacation, to parties and even out to eat from time to time. When Dunning made his online store for eBay, he had to name his business.

    “The thing that popped in my head was the banana. He’s fun — Banunu. So I did Vintage Banana,” Dunning says. It helps that Dunning loves to eat bananas, too. “The really ripe ones, the actual vintage bananas,” he says.

    Since opening the store, Dunning has started working with a few other vendors. Max Whelan started selling with him a little over a year ago. “He had a different kind of vibe, little bit different style, and I could see a lot of the younger kids gravitating towards it because it was more like the ’90s style vintage stuff. It was stuff that I was passing on in the past,” Dunning says. Whelan brought along Brian Jones, who he sold things with on Instagram, and now they all sell through Vintage Banana, each bringing their own style.

    “We mesh well together,” Dunning says. “It’s boosted the store quite a bit.”

     

     

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