Downtown Stockton is booming—or should we say blooming? Many locals once looked upon the city’s old buildings as forlorn reminders of better days. But today, the beauty in these spaces are once again celebrated, granting old walls a new lease on life.
Lovers of vintage already know that just because something is old, doesn’t mean you need to dispose of it. Shontay Rodriguez, owner of Lilou of the Valley Boutique in Stockton, is one of those people.
“I never wanted to look like everyone else,” says the lifelong Stocktonian. Vintage clothes offered the alternatives she desired, but they also became a way to make a little extra money. Fast forward to 2017, when Shontay and her husband Branden opened their vintage shop.
“My daughter’s name is Lilou,” says Shontay. “Which is Lily in French, and we’re in the Valley. So our name is a nod to our city.” And just like a Lily-of-the-Valley, the shop is off the beaten path.
“I wanted it to be in a historical part of town,” she explains. “And I wanted to open people’s eyes to a whole other district.” The district she’s referring to is the area South of Harding, which has been catchily coined “SoHard” (think “SoHo”, but much cooler).
And speaking of catchy, many people have fallen in love with Lilou of the Valley’s incredible slogan: “Cute as a button, tough as concrete.”
“It’s an old thought,” Shontay says. “Women have to know when to be soft, but also when to be tough.” But it was also inspired by the button collection she inherited from her husband’s grandmother. “I make things, too,” she says. “So, I was making button earrings, because I didn’t want to just keep them. It’s like the old wartime effort—nothing goes to waste.”
And it’s the idea of ‘nothing going to waste’ that makes vintage shopping so wonderful, especially when you’re lucky enough to find high quality items: “If items are preserved properly, they’ll last a while. But things used to be made better—better fabric, and better sewing.” So expect to find long lasting jewelry, handbags, hats, shoes, and clothes within her shop. “I’d like to say I can dress a person head to toe—not necessarily all in the same decade!”
Have a request? Let Shontay know. Or, just browse her unique boutique freely. “There are cool things if you choose to look for them,” she says. Solid advice for shopping, and for life.
Find Some Hidden Treasures:
32 E. Acacia St., Stockton