Justin from Pioneer Goods Co. is the kind of guy that you want to be when you grow up. He's striking, rugged, kind, and handy. He scours flea markets for treasures, and breathes life into vintage pieces with a fresh coat of paint and a little love. He drives a pick-up truck, and treats those who walk into his shop like old friends. In short, Justin is the coolest guy we know...
When we needed props (and a model) for our recent photo shoot, we headed to his beautiful vintage shop in Boston's charming South End. Luck was in our favor...we found both. Walking through the doors of Pioneer Goods is like stepping into someone's father's mountain cabin, filled with vintage photos, trunks, and camp supplies. Nostalgia overwhelms, and suddenly you're picturing yourself, curled up in a vintage Hudson Bay Point Blanket, sipping whiskey by a roaring fire. If anything were ever #designedbytradition, this is the place.
Justin modeled Alps & Meters' Second Collection for our friend Dave Bradley at our shoot a few weeks back, and we caught up with him to ask about his shop.
Alps & Meters: At Alps & Meters, the philosophy of designing products based on historical reference pieces is literally woven into the fabric of our brand. We update classic silhouettes with contemporary technologies and modern materials as a way of remembering the history and legacy of timeless alpine style. What does #designedbytradition mean to you in your work at Pioneer Goods?
When I think of tradition, I think of customs that are passed down from generation to generation. I know I wouldn't be doing what I do if I weren't taught by my mom and grandfather. We were always a family of "do-it-yourselfers" and while my grandfather designed and even worked with the crew that built his home on Martha's Vineyard, my mom would always find old houses that we would fix up and restore to their original greatness. There's a reason we say "They don't make 'em like they used to."
Alps & Meters: Who inspires you?
Anyone who forges their own path...Some of my favorites are Foster Huntington, a kid who left a job at Ralph Lauren in Manhattan to travel the country, take pictures, and live in a treehouse and Oregon. Evan and Oliver Haslegrave, two Brooklyn brothers who began as handymen and now design some of the sickest restaurants in New York. Kenyan Lewis, who sadly passed away last year, was probably my biggest influence. I met him by chance at Brimfield when I was just starting out, and I've aspired to be as good as he was ever since.
Foster Huntington's Cinder Cone Treehouse
Alps & Meters: Favorite vintage item of all time? What's the story behind it?
When you buy furniture at auction or estate sale, they often empty the contents out of respect to the former owner and also the new buyer. When I opened Pioneer, we found this amazing green dresser with an attached mirror at auction. For whatever reason, the drawers had never been emptied and were packed to the gills. My wife and I started combing over what was inside and were amazed at what we found. In it, were the contents of a woman's entire life. Her notebooks from Duke University, cancelled checks for her wedding dress maker and wedding singer, loads of pictures taken over the course of her life, and much, much more. It was so amazing, yet almost intrusive. When I sold the piece to a girl that lives a few doors down on Tremont Street, I remember thinking about how the former owner looked into that mirror and took clothes from those drawers every day to get ready, for years and years, and how a new young woman would carry on and do the same. It's really kind of amazing to think about. Sometimes stuff is so much more than just stuff.
Alps & Meters: Where'd you learn how to ski? Favorite ski destination?
I learned to ski at a little hill called Nashoba Valley in Westford, MA. My parents would drive my brother and I out there every Friday night when we were little and enrolled us in their ski school. They only have 17 trails, but at 7 years old, it felt as big as Mt. Everest. It was the perfect place to learn.
My favorite place in the Northeast is actually Loon Mountain. It's two hours flat from Boston, and their terrain park is fantastic. It's not the biggest or the best mountain in New England, but it's definitely my favorite. My favorite place in the world, though, is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Alps & Meters: Favorite place to source vintage goods for the shop?
I don't want to give up too many secrets, but auctions are usually my favorite place to source. I'll also always remind people that in New England, there's good stuff nearly everywhere. While I routinely hit auctions and flea markets, I've also found great stuff at Goodwill stores and yard sales. It's not so much about where you look, but knowing what you're looking for.
Alps & Meters: PGC is located in Boston’s charming South End…full of amazing shops and restaurants. What are your favorite neighborhood haunts?
My favorite shops are Olives & Grace, Sault New England, Follain, Niche, and Farm and Fable. You could do a round of shopping and quite literally find everything you need in life at those stores. The best restaurant in the South End is Coppa and that's that. I've eaten there a hundred times, and every single time I go I try something that is one of the best things I've ever tasted.
Alps & Meters: Best powder day memory?
When I was a kid, my friends and our families would all spend February vacation up at Gunstock Mountain in New Hampshire. When I was about 14 or 15 we woke up to about two feet of fresh snow. While this is normal out West, it's like hitting the lottery in the Northeast. We were old enough to be pretty good skiers, but young enough to be really crazy and stupid. With this new cushion of powder, we were hitting jumps so hard, going bigger than ever, and landing tricks we either couldn't master or didn't have the guts to try in the past. It was awesome.
Alps & Meters: Favorite après ski cocktail…
While my après-ski routine has relaxed a bit in recent years, the answer is always a Manhattan.