Mankato vintage shop sells hip clothing, mentors youth

Amanda Filreis ® Staff Writer |

Have you ever wanted to create your own look while expanding your horizons?

One place you can do that is Vagabond Village located in Mankato’s Old Town. Created in 2015 by Natalie Pierson, Vagabond Village not only sells vintage clothing, accessories, and other various items, but also provides a mentorship program for youth ages 16-22.

All are welcome whether they be out-of-the-box thinkers or high schoolers looking for a safe space. If you want to branch out even more, there are other options.

For over 13 years, Pierson has managed GRACE Thrift Store in Lake Crystal. She operates

Vagabond Village in the evenings. GRACE stands for Give Recycling A Chance Every day, and as the name implies, its main purpose is to reuse items people would otherwise throw away.

Pierson hires students to work at GRACE to build job skills and gain experience at both profit and non-profit organizations. Pierson interacts with a wide range of people during her time there.

It wasn’t always this way though.

Despite receiving help from elder volunteers, Pierson noticed very few younger people were stepping up to help out. As time went by, she desired more and more to create a safe space for high schoolers. Pierson says she was bullied during her time in high school for her creative mind.

She hoped to create Vagabond Village as a creative space that would nurture the visionary spirits inside of them while also addressing the need for more community projects.

The first six months were meant to serve as a test run to see if her idea could work. But after the initial lease date, the lease rate increased which forced her to find a new, more affordable location.

The approach each year has been different for her store. During the first year, she focused on her vintage collection in collaboration with the products of local vendors. In her second year, she added the help of interns. From the third year onward, her focus was on vintage items, programs and vision.

“My favorite part has got to be when people bring items in and I hear about the stories behind them,” said Pierson. “It’s so fascinating to find out about the stories each item holds. My favorite part of working at GRACE would be reusing items and finding them a home. It makes me feel good to know that I’m doing my part to help the environment. The most memorable part by far was to watch the students transform.”

The students become more vibrant during their time here, she said. Some begin with having low self-esteem and confidence.

“By the end they are able to face their fears and walk with pride and attitude down the runway,” she Pierson.

Header photo courtesy of Vagabond Village’s Facebook page

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