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The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Meet Mitch Kalka, owner of Mitch’s Vintage in Shoreview

“I’m a Scorpio, I like throwing darts, going to the mall and eating sandwiches […] I believe in aliens, I just do. And I love having a store because my customers are all so great,” he said.

Many who shop at Mitch’s Vintage on 3999 Rice St. are likely to be greeted by owner Mitch Kalka upon arrival, but few really know who he is and his story. “I’m a Scorpio, I like throwing darts, going to the mall and eating sandwiches […] I believe in aliens, I just do. And I love having a store because my customers are all so great,” he said.

Before entering the vintage clothing business, Kalka managed a furniture business, Odds and Ends Again, where he worked with Joseph’s Coat, a charity that provides clothes and other donated goods to those who need them but have difficulty affording them. 

His involvement with the charity is what led him to sell clothing. “They asked me to start selling clothes for them online. I started selling clothes online, and I started doing that at my house,” said Kalka. Joseph’s Coat provided him with donated clothing, which he then sold to support their charity.

“It was becoming overwhelming dealing with how much stuff I had. I kept pushing the rooms I lived in back and back until I was down to one room and going sort of crazy living such a cramped lifestyle,” Kalka said. 

Before giving up on selling clothing out of his house, he heard from his friend, the owner of Shop Country Club Vintage, who asked if he wanted to start his own store in one of their locations. “A month later I had moved in and had my own store. Wasn’t very planned but it has been a great learning process and journey so far,” he said. Mitch’s Vintage has been in business for 16 months now.

Kalka always had a passion for art and clothing, and after high school, he studied painting at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His background as an artist heavily influenced his approach to vintage clothing. “I’ve always been into art and at one point, I realized how much art actually goes into clothes. And how much, especially [the younger] generation, is turning clothing into art by just making it a form of self-expression,” he said.

This summer, he plans to create many new upcycled and creative pieces. “The end goal would be to start my own fashion brand,” he said. “I want to do really iconic stuff from different decades, like trek shorts for women from the 70s, old school ringer tees and Jersey tees. A lot of different items from different decades that have always been kind of cute or fashionable.”

For Kalka, the most rewarding aspect of owning his store has been the community he has gotten to be a part of since opening. “When I see somebody come in and get really excited about it, there’s just that kind of a special feeling. Being able to see people’s reaction and building a place that somebody can get excited about — I’m proud that it’s been like that,” he said.

Kalka is also proud of both his store’s offerings and social responsibility. “We offer lots of unique vintage clothes, great things for low prices,” he said. Additionally, half of every purchase made at Mitch’s is given to Joseph’s Coat. “If you buy a shirt here, you’re buying a couple shirts to put on the back of somebody who needs it, so it’s kind of like a free pass for doing something good. You get to do good just by shopping and having fun.”

Since opening, Kalka says the store has been successful. “Business has been really great — it seems to get a little better every single day, and I have the coolest customers. I mean, it seems like everyone who comes in is somebody I would have been friends with when I was in high school,” he said. 

He says the biggest challenge he faces owning the store is finding seven hours of good music to play at the shop every day.

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About the Contributor
Justin Shao, Staff Reporter
Justin is a junior staff reporter, and this year is his first year on The Viewer.
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