Little Shop of Hoarders

Rose O'Keefe SWQ Spring 2019

Dedicated followers of fashion. Art appreciators. Down to earth. That’s what in “About Us” on the website for Little Shop of Hoarders, a trendy vintage shop and gallery on Gregory Street. Owner Monika Ludwinek welcomes commission vendors to place vintage clothing in the store or for sale at one-day events. Little Shop invites fabricators to sell what they make, whether it be jewelry or craft, unique and one-of-a- kind items. The shop also has an evening opening for art exhibitions on the second Saturday of the month. She said, “These events have been fun and memorable.”

Monika opened the storefront in the dead of winter, with high hopes for the future. As she said, “If living off of handme-downs as a child wasn’t enough, I spent countless hours at thrift stores with my friends as a teenager searching for cool stuff to wear, so our wardrobes could always stay fresh. We would share clothing as well, which would end up getting lost or misplaced somehow. I do, however, still wear a Mario shirt from time to time that my friend Marta picked way back then! What I do today is essentially the same thing as I have always done, except now I have Little Shop of Hoarders.”

Monika has been inspired by role models she sees as “anyone who is driven to a goal and won’t give up while staying positive and genuine. Whoever that is, is a true role model to me.” They included her brother Mark, who has walked her through some pretty tough times, to friends Kathy and Anya for building a dream into a reality in the largest city in America – New York City. “I have to say they all deserve gold medals.”

Her family is on that list, from her mom who already had a master’s degree in business from Poland and wanted to strengthen her English. So she went to Monroe Community College while working at Wegmans and taking care of her two brothers and her. After her mom finished at MCC, she went on to work as an accountant. Her dad worked mostly out-ofstate government contract jobs. In the midst of it all, her parents sent her and her brothers to Poland so they could spend time with extended family. From their constant diligence and her travels overseas, she developed a strong work ethic and the ability to view her experiences and interactions through a multicultural lens.

These days, Monika shares a home with her sweetheart, Clay, and roommates, Ryan, Ollie (the dog) and Mamond (the cat). Ryan works as a realtor in the day and cooks at John’s Tex Mex at night. She and Clay enjoy relaxing at home or at the shop tackling projects together. The first thing on her to-do list these days is to mold the interior of the shop to her liking and getting the ins and outs of her business plan in line. Since this will take time, she invites browsers to stop in to see the shop grow. She is also making plans to have an event at Marie Daley Park, and said, “Keep your eyes peeled!“