New Store In Old Church: The Hunting Ground In Hampden

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Welcome to our new series, Shop Girl, which will review a local store every other week.  

Hunting Ground

Where: “In the Old Church”
3649 Falls Road, Hampden, 21211

Hours: M-Thurs. 11-7, Fri. and Sat. 11-8, Sunday 12-6

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It’s hard to write about Hunting Ground without using the words “hipster” or “Brooklyn,” but let’s just say that if you’ve ever wondered how you’d look in an orange wool-plaid CPO jacket ($48), a white fringed leather bolero ($52) or a floral prairie apron ($12), this is the place. Since opening in 2012, young owners Jenna Hattenburg and Jess Soulen have a demonstrated a strong fashion sense, separating the gold from the dross with an expert eye. Mixed in with the vintage, which the owner defines as “over 20 years old,” are small, preppie-retro brands like MinkPink, Commune, and Courtshop Denim. Prices are about the same as Target, (mostly under $100, vintage cheaper than new) at a higher level of quirkiness and quality. Still, vintage is an acquired taste, and the staff (aka owners) while pleasant, did not seem that interested in pursuading customers of its charms. On the other hand, an online review describes the service gratefully as “Chill. They leave you in peace.”  Which certainly has its appeal.

From the super-cool space itself, an old stone former church (Hampden Presbyterian) on Falls Road, to the fun displays inside — taxidermy, art, Indian blankets, old books, antique cabinets and a rotating series of pop up shops — and the indie music you wont hear anywhere else, Hunting Ground is super on trend for its folk-chic customer. Tongue-in-cheek, yes, but heavy-handed irony, no.  Think “Laverne & Shirley”  meets “Girls.”

What Hunting Ground does best is curate, and everything here has been carefully chosen. The collection is small, men’s on the left, women’s on the right, shoes underneath. Somewhat unusually, there’s more men’s stuff than women’s. While the new collections are more mainstream, the vintage stuff can be pretty outré. There are some authentic vintage finds – not of the Jean-Paul Gautier latex dress, YSL smoking jacket or Hermes Kelly bag variety — but a fun wool pop-art dress ($24), a Diana Ross sequined top ($34), a velvet print prarie skirt ($12) a men’s Pendleton wool shirt ($48) and (cardigan $44), some truly awesome men’s cowboy boots and a pair of sexy Steve Madden metallic red platforms ($24).  On one occasion there was a beautiful gray wool military nurses cape with frogging. Nice, big, clearly-printed labels give the price, the brand, and whether or not an item is vintage or new. The dressing rooms, just two of them, have real doors, natural light, and a seat.  All in all, Hunting Ground is a Brooklyn-style boutique, right here in B’more and a great addition to the Hampden shopping scene.

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Creativity: A+ — for repurposing a vacant church, expert fashion editing and edgy music selection.
Service: B  — staff is prone to communing with fellow vintage converts instead of encouraging the uninitiated
Price: $$ — high end of low budget
Best find: Vintage black leather “moto” jacket, $80.  Men’s black leather Chelsea boots ($24) Red velvet jumpsuit, ($12)

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