When Nick DeyArmond was growing up, hand-me-downs and thrift store finds were the way he got “new” clothes. He and his brothers shared or shopped for second-hand clothes, and he says his mom is a master thrifter.
As an adult, he continued to haunt thrift stores and rifle through free boxes of cast-off items, but now he wasn’t looking for just anything. Instead, he sought vintage items of historic significance.
A few months ago, DeyArmond and his wife, Angela Napolitano, turned their passion into a business when they opened Bonejacked Vintage Apparel
at 512 Columbus Ave. For now, they each have a day job in the Thumb and commute to Bay City to operate the store. They plan to permanently make Bay City home.
Inside Bonejacked Vintage Apparel, you'll find clothing plus merchandise from classic bands. (Graphic courtesy of Bonejacked Vintage Apparel)
Finding treasure in a thrift store, or in the bargain bins at a garage sale wasn’t necessarily what DeyArmond started out to do. His mom pushed him in that direction, he says.
“I was in Ann Arbor and that was the first time I came into my first thrift shop that dealt specifically with vintage items,” he says. “Then it kind of clicked in my brain that you can go to thrift shops and garage sales and hyper-focus and look for these items that don’t just look cool, but actually bear some actual historical significance.”
Once he found something, trying to figure out when and where it came from, whether it was authentic, and ultimately put a price tag on it, was a whole other challenge.
The store's name is slang for 'stealing the style of one who is dead.' (Graphic courtesy of Bonejacked Vintage Apparel)
“It’s quite a fiasco to try and date this stuff. It’s based on when the U.S. had certain embargos against certain countries and various stitching techniques that are used. There are single and double stitching techniques, and then there are brand changes, brand buyouts, knowing how their logos have changed throughout the years. It’s a little like detective work to find out when some of them were produced, especially with the reproduction age. Everybody’s manufacturing these to look like old shirts.”
When DeyArmond and Napolitano found each other, they not only got married but started thrifting together, too. They worked seasonal jobs across the country, and their similar interests took them to Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and other states. Along with hiking, biking, and kayaking gear, they also had to have room in their car for thrift shop finds.
“It was something fun to do on the weekends if we didn’t have anything going on, and the hunt, the pursuit of the endeavor, was what became the addiction and you can either become a hoarder or become an entrepreneur.”
In the beginning, they put items into storage, but couple always planned to eventually open a vintage clothing shop, it was just a matter of when and where.
“It was always in our DNA what we wanted to do, it’s just kind of knowing the right time to do it,” DeyArmond says.
When they found space across from the vacant County Flea Market lot on Columbus, they knew it was the one. Decades-old t-shirts carrying the faces and names of bands long gone (as well some that are still touring) hang from the walls. Faces such as Michael Jackson, Richard Marx, and a mulleted Michael Bolton adorn iconic concert merch that’s displayed and waiting its next chance at life.
It’s a niche market, but DeyArmond says there is a need.
“These are very niche items, and not everyone understands what we’re doing here. The market fluctuates quite a bit. It’s heavily dependent on what people are wearing as far as celebrities are concerned. So it’s been known to fluctuate quite a bit with the Kardashians are wearing, what Taylor Swift is wearing, and what Kanye’s wearing. They’re all into vintage tees. Some of them, the rattier they are, the better.”
The shirts at Bonejacked may have humble origins, but they aren’t cheap.
“There was an 8-Mile Eminem Shirt, which is vintage, from the film, on the side of the road in Huron County in a free bin after a garage sale had cleared out, and it ended up being worth $200,” he says. Another of their finds “a shirt we purchased for $6 from the David Fincher Film, Seven, that sold to a guy in Japan for $900. It’s a hot market.”
Their inventory isn’t available online, only inside the store. Both DeyArmond and Napolitano agree the sensory experience of interacting with the clothing cannot be had by shopping in an online store.
“Selling online may have some value, but the dream was always to have a unique physical space where people could interact with these pieces,” says DeyArmond.
Being able to feel the threads of an old cotton t-shirt, or a polyester button-down can only be done while it’s on a hangar.
“What’s really awesome is to see people interact with these pieces and try them on, especially if they come across something from a show they went to or something like that, or they have some memory they can tie into it. That’s really cool for us, and you can’t get that online.”
Not only do they want to create a sensory experience, but they also consider their store somewhat of a museum as a shopping experience, “because we’re housing all of these historical events. It’s fun to watch people interact with them, try them on, and take a walk down memory lane for themselves in many cases.”
While they’d like to expand to a larger space at some point, they continue to plan ways to grow their business where they are.
“We’re also looking into modification pieces for the vintage pieces that don’t have a lot of life in them, that would otherwise be wasted. We’d like to find other ways to re-purpose and save them from the landfill. Stay sustainable, give value to these things that would otherwise be deemed trash.”
The name Bonejacked, which means “stealing the style of one who is dead,” is a name a friend tossed out to DeyArmond years ago, and it stuck.
The store is open at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and at noon on Friday. Napolitano says they are also open on weekends at noon. Occasionally you’ll find them doing pop-up shops in Downtown Bay City at Populace Coffee House and at the Art Department on Midland Street.