Hello and happy Thursday everyone!!!!
I am so excited to present today’s post to you today because I believe that it’s my most powerful update on the site yet.
Today is the epitome of what I mean when I say to “spread vintage love & make style peace,” the mantra that I so enthusiastically proclaim to you all here and on my Shop Finds page.
I’m sure I speak for many of you when I say that us vintage lovers remember the very first time we walked into a vintage store.
The first vintage store I ever entered was in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s name is Zap & Co, and it was arguably the oldest existing vintage store in the area up until this past January.
What happened in January? As illustrated in the pictures above, Zap & Co was destroyed in a freak fire after existing in downtown Lancaster for almost 40 years since 1973.
Even more tragic: Not only was all historic inventory lost in the fire, but the founder & owner Steve Murray — who was living in an apartment behind the store at the time — suffered 1st & 2nd degree burns over 30 percent of his body.
Steve was in a medically induced coma for nearly a month following the fire. When he awoke, he couldn’t communicate about the events which had unfolded that tragic winter night — because he couldn’t remember a single thing.
Dear vintage lover, today is not just a post about how to wear vintage or where to buy it. It’s not a post to educate, enlighten or entertain you.
Rather, today’s post is one of unity & love; a gift of opportunity for all of us to come together — no matter where we live, who we are and what we have — to help the vintage community restore the landmark that is Zap & Co and to empower the health and honor the contributions of Steve Murray, an icon in vintage fashion & style.
Keep reading after the jump to learn more about Zap & Co — its history & community influence, updates since the fire and most importantly, how each and every one of you can spread vintage love by contributing to the Steve Murray Trust Fund by mailing a piece of vintage from your collection to the fund for holding until the future re-opening of Zap & Co.
If you clicked “Read More” to find out how you can help restore both the health of Zap & Co and its owner, Steve Murray, I want to give you a huge THANK YOU!
This site not only gives me the opportunity to help inspire your love of vintage and confident personal expression of your beautiful self, but it gives me the even greater opportunity to give back by rallying amazing people like you to share your blessings with others.
I look forward to hearing how you’d like to help Zap & Co! Keep reading for the exact details as to how you can help.
If you have ANY questions/ideas/pictures of you wearing vintage from Zap & Co, please email me [email protected] so that we can spread vintage love TOGETHER!
With gratefulness for your generosity on behalf of the vintage community!
ZAP & CO: THE HISTORY
Zap & Co wasn’t just a vintage store — it was vintage HEAVEN.
Imagine walking into a store and being so stimulated by what you saw that you’d never grow tired of returning to the store — even if nothing in the inventory changed.
Zap was founded in 1973 by Steve Murray and his then-wife. The husband-wife team established their store in the heart of downtown Lancaster to sell vintage fashion, home decor/furnishings and the bric-a-brac we love to the residents of Central Pennsylvania and later on, to the costume designers of famous movies & shows like Woody Allen’s Radio Days, Titantic, Austin Powers 3 and That ’70s Show.
Steve is known as the “Godfather of downtown Lancaster” because he not only opened one store in the city of this small, rural community — he would go on to open THREE different businesses!
His second most notable was the alternative record store BBC, pictured below.
In researching more on the history of Zap & Co, I stumbled onto the blog of one of Steve’s closest employees from BBC.
Blogger and record collector afficiando Karl lived in Lancaster for nearly 10 years and worked as the manager of BBC, pictured above & below. In his post after the fire at Zap, he writes how BBC was one of four record stores helping to fuel the alternative music scene in Lancaster at the time.
Even as the local mall began driving traffic away from BBC, Karl writes that Steve never pressured him to stock the Spice Girls & Backstreet Boys of the day to drive sales. BBC was for a passionate, niche audience of music lovers … and not a sell out.
BBC Records interior shot, above. Steve Murray was owner of BBC Records, Zap & Co and later, a military army/navy store bringing his grand total of stores owned in downtown Lancaster to 3.
Remember the era of flyers and do-it-yourself posters? While Lancaster was a very conservative area, it was also a musically-charged one thanks to alternative music venues like the Chameleon Club.
Zap & Co was known for its decorative windows and cornucopia of merchandise that longtime vintage lovers to the average passerby on the street couldn’t help but love and return to visit again and again.
The pictures above and some below show the interior of Zap & Co, literally crammed full with vintage clothing!
Steve’s daughter (now 16) is shown playing in her father’s store above and below. Her vintage passion started young!
Zap & Co wasn’t just for the ladies! Steve carried the most extensive collection of vintage menswear I have personally ever seen.
Now that’s what I call the “I love vintage” dance!
Before the TV show Mad Men fueled a ’60s bar ware and accoutrement trend, Steve was stocking his shelves with shot glasses, ashtrays and martini shakers.
Meet “Hilda,” the name for Steve’s vintage spokesperson & model (although as a mannequin, she let the clothes speak for themselves!) who stood in front of the store everyday greeting customers in her latest get-up, as styled by Steve.
Hilda was probably the second most popular person in the store … next to Steve, of course!
Zap & Co was the first vintage store I ever stepped foot in, and where I purchased my prom dress and accessories for my then-boyfriend’s prom in 2002.
He & I attended the big dance in “theme” thanks to his love for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Marilyn Manson and all things dark-and-Victorian influenced. I guess you could say I had a goth streak as a 16-year-old!
ZAP & CO: THE MAN BEHIND THE VINTAGE
A very fitting vintage-inspired illustration of Steve!
Steve stands at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, often wearing a vintage men’s suit (how he found the suit size to fit, I don’t know!) or during the summer months, a favorite genuine vintage Hawaiian shirt and pair of shorts.
I don’t know Steve personally, but his personality shines so strong in these images and the stories shared about him on his Facebook fan page that I feel more personally connected to this vintage Godfather than ever before.
I can’t speak directly on his behalf, but the history of Zap & Co and Steve’s relationship to Lancaster speaks to his confidence and charisma for life.
He doesn’t operate Zap & Co for fame or fortune. He does it for us … his friends. And Steve — by always giving to the people around him — became our friend, too.
Steve with the undeniable love-of-his-life … Hilda the mannequin!
ZAP & CO: THE FIRE
A screenshot capturing the fire which engulfed Zap & Co on Queen Street in Lancaster the evening of Thursday, January 20th, 20011.
Firefighters evaluate the bitter aftermath of the blaze which destroyed all inventory in the nearly 40-year-old vintage store.
Almost 4 months later, what remains of Zap & Co is a boarded up shell of its former self.
But I — and Lancaster’s community! — believe the spirit of vintage love remains within.
ZAP & CO: THE COMMUNITY OF LANCASTER, PA
Zap & Co was located on the 300 block of North Queen Street, an artistic block of downtown Lancaster home to cafes, antique shops, a creperie and a hookah lounge.
If you wanted to spend an afternoon in downtown Lancaster, you’d definitely pay a visit to N. Queen for your vintage fashion fix.
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Lancaster, growing up in a suburban home in the school district of Manheim Township, immediately beyond the outskirts of the city.
My father and mother both grew up in Lancaster, too — my father is a graduate of my high school. My mother graduated from the rival school district, Hempfield.
My father’s side of the family moved to Lancaster during the Great Depression. My great-great Grandfather, George Wallace Davis II, was an employee of Mobile-Exxon. He sold heating & air conditioning units, at that time, units which used oil to heat your home.
My great-great grandfather was a lucky man. With no jobs in the suburbs of Philadelphia where he and his family lived, Mobile Exxon gave him two choices of relocation for work: Levittown or Lancaster.
My grandfather chose sleepy Lancaster, where he moved is family (including my grandfather & great aunt) nearly 100 miles from their “city life” of Philadelphia.
I hail from a 3-generation deep family of Lancastrians. While I no longer live there, I will always call it home and live as a cheerleader for its successes.
View of Lancaster’s “Penn Square” (named after Pennsylvania state founder William Penn).
This building is now a hotel and convention center, formerly home to the legendary and truly vintage department store Watt & Shand.
My mother was shopping in Watt & Shand the day she went into labor with me. She was shopping with her friend Kathy there when she began to have labor pains.
And that, my readers, is probably why I love fashion so much!
Another namesake visit to Lancaster: Central Market, a food/treats/Amish goods marketplace that is the oldest “longest existing” market in the entire country. This is, and always was, a true “farmer’s market.”
The building itself is 100+ years old!
ZAP & CO: HOW YOU CAN HELP TO SPREAD VINTAGE LOVE
I am only 25 years old, but on some days I feel the wisdom of an elderly sage who has lived a long, full life.
The most important thing I have learned about life — no matter where I am or what I have — is to just GIVE.
Every time we give, we receive. And every time we receive, we give again.
I write these words to ask that you give to the Steve Murray Special Needs Trust in a way that is comfortable for YOU.
Here are three unique ways you can give, as researched by me.
Your opportunity to give is not limited to these three ideas. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts — proposal to collaborate, even! — by sending me an email at [email protected]
HOW TO GIVE BACK TO ZAP & CO
1.) MAIL A CHECK in support of Steve’s recovery funds to the following address:
Steve Murray Special Needs Trust
PO box 1533, Lancaster 17608
2.) PURCHASE A ZAP & CO T-SHIRT as designed by supporters for $20. Proceeds go to the Steve Murray Special Needs Trust.
Contact Loriann via Facebook at “Keep Calm & Carry On Designs,” the screen printer of the T-shirts. She will request your address for shipping purposes. (see T-shirts below)
If you live in or nearby Lancaster, you can purchase a T-shirt at the store itself: 329 N queen street, 4th floor
If you donate monetary funds to the Trust, you receive a free T-shirt.
3.) CALLING ALL VINTAGE SELLERS & LOVERS!
In the latest update on Steve’s condition and plans for the future, he vocalized that he plans to do whatever he can to reopen Zap & Co to its former glory.
There are currently dozens of pickers scouring the area for vintage finds to help restock the store’s lost inventory.
Let us come together to give a piece of our vintage history to Zap & Co. Please review your inventory and decide which piece you’d like to donate to the Trust to help spread the love of vintage.
You can mail your vintage donations to:
Steve Murray Trust
P.O. Box 1533, Lancaster, PA 17608
STEVE MURRAY UPDATE
FOLLOW ZAP & CO ON FACEBOOK FOR UPDATES!
ZAP & CO: WHAT I’M DONATING
I will be visiting Lancaster Memorial Day weekend to see family. While there, I plan to donate a few select pieces of my vintage fashion collection, along with an early ’80s vintage “Monopoly” game of downtown Lancaster (above) and 3 clothing racks from my prior days as a vintage seller in New York.
If you are/were a store owner in the Lancaster area with merchandising materials (racks, mannequins, jewelry holders, shelves, etc.) that you are no longer using and would like to donate to the store, please email me personally so that I can help point you in the right direction for proper delivery.
I love this vintage cobalt blue jumpsuit, above. I love it so much that I want customers to the new Zap & Co to enjoy it for themselves, too.
The beauty of vintage is that the pieces are not “just” pieces. I truly believe they are souls. You can wear a soul, but you can’t own it. They fly free.
We may be in possession of a piece now, but that soul can fly elsewhere and spread its happiness to new vintage lovers.
Let us spread the love of vintage together — in unity for the honor of a great store, a great man and an even greater message: To give back is a gift in and of itself.
THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!