After nearly a decade in real estate, Tanya Rabeya decided in 2021 that she was ready for a big change — one that would cater to her natural entrepreneurial skills and her love for fashions both old and new. Last spring, she opened her new store, Hybrid Vintage, in East Williamsburg.
The vintage consignment shop is conveniently located near the L train, on Graham Avenue between Frost and Richardson streets. Rabeya worked as a broker and real estate investor in Bedford-Stuyvesant as a broker and real estate investor for nine years before she decided shift her ambitions.
“In summer 2021, I was like, I kind of want to put my real estate career on the backburner and focus on something else. I have the money, let me open up my store,” she said, recalling her lightbulb moment. “It was something that was in the plans for a long time. It was supposed to happen a while back, but I’m glad it didn’t.”
Rabeya’s real estate experience aided her search for a storefront.
“I know how to look for rentals, compare within a budget,” she said. “I did my research and I found commercial properties in different neighborhoods, and then I narrowed it down to coming to East Williamsburg.”
Rabeya— was lucky — the property she found needed very few adjustments, and she was able to stay within her budget for renovations. She opened the store just after Easter weekend in 2022, as local businesses were still recovering from the pandemic.
“The community was very interested in what was coming. Everyone was excited,” Rabeya said. “I was nervous, because it’s my first business on my own. I mean, I was a realtor working for an investment firm, where I managed the investment firm, and I was also a realtor doing full time buying. I understood what it takes to run a business, but I never opened a business on my own.”
Rabeya described the range of customers as “newborns coming in with their parents to 70 year old grandmothers.” She decided to cater to a broad market and includes a wide variety of styles in her shop – hence the name: Hybrid Vintage.
“I cycled out my baby clothing in the last month or two, and we moved away from the Gap and Ralph Lauren. It doesn’t work for this market,” Rabeya said. “We had to bring in all the legacy brands like Scooby Doo, the Simpsons, Dora the Explorer – anything that’s 20 years or older. Character tees, sport jerseys for kids. I completely changed the children’s line out. It’s a learning curve.”
Rabeya chooses which pieces to sell based on what her customers are asking for or what she sees people taking interest in online, but most of the store’s stock is her personal pick. She travels to England a few times a year and makes sure to get a few unique pieces while she’s there, and she says that her time in the city helped her develop an eye for thrifting, consignment and vintage.
“At the beginning, it was a lot of contemporary, not enough vintage,” she admits. But now Rabeya stocks a variety of options, and believes she has figured out her market.
“I like to keep my new stuff and my contemporary line in here, too, because you have the grandmothers, they don’t really care about vintage – they’re almost vintage themselves!” Rabeya said. “They don’t want something from 30 years ago when they themselves were 30. No, they want something that’s high quality, but that’s contemporary and that’s going to last them another 10 years of their life.”
Rabeya wanted to own a business long before she opened Hybrid, and recalled her first venture in 2006.
“I was supposed to open a baby store when my son was two years old,” Rabeya said. “I was actually in the middle of opening a store in Jackson Heights. Then life happened – I went through a divorce and I had to put that business aside and focus on raising my son on my own.”
Since then, Rabeya’s vision for her business evolved as she watched her son grow up and was no longer surrounded by baby products. Though Hybrid stocks children’s clothes, 90% of the clothing is for adults. Rabeya’s son, a sophomore in college who has frequented local thrift stores since high school, helped her bridge the gap between her personal taste and the younger generation’s style.
“I watched my son go from wearing things that I would put on him, like the Gap, then he changed his style completely. I noticed him dressing himself very differently,” Rabeya said. “My son was educating me on what’s in. He’s Gen Z!”
With Hybrid nearing two years since opening, Rabeya has found her niche in the market and is confident the business will continue to grow.
“I’m a small store but I think I can cater to this side of the community. I do get South Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick and Crown Heights people here,” she said.
Rabeya says her goal for the store right now is to be fully profitable so she can focus on other projects.
“Once it’s up and running and fully profitable, I think I will just get a manager to manage the store for me. Then I can venture out and do other things,” she said. “I’m still a licensed realtor. I have my hands full, even though I’m an empty nester. Who knows what’s in the future?”
Rabeya said she doesn’t think she will expand Hybrid, but “if it allows me to take my profits and start a different business, I would probably do something completely different.”
This month, Hybrid Vintage features a selection of curated Halloween costumes.
“Last year I dressed about 50 people for Halloween,” Rabeya said. Mannequins around the store feature costumes inspired by Pretty Woman, Jack Skellington and more.
Hybrid Vintage is open Tuesday-Sunday from 12-8pm and is located at 447 Graham Ave.