Mod fashions may have peaked in the 1960s, but they are back, and in a whole new way. Rob Hofbauer and his wife Nancy opened Leftcoast Modern Cincinnati
on Fourth Street at the end of August. The shop specializes in mid-century modern pieces, but Rob also sells things that are outside of the time period but still in the modernist style.
“You don’t have to be a true purist,” Rob says. “If it’s good design, it doesn’t go out of style.”
Rob doesn’t have a degree in design. He says the closest he ever came to one was when he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Famous Artist" in high school. But that doesn’t stop him from loving what he does. With an ever-changing inventory, Rob usually remembers the designer, year and history of every piece in the store. And he enjoys sharing that information with his customers.
The Hofbauers used to live in Sarasota, Fla., where they operated a wholesale antique business and warehouse for six years. They didn’t delve into retail while in Florida, but decided they would open a storefront when they moved to Cincinnati five months ago.
The couple knew Cincinnati had a large modernist community, due in part to 20th Century Cincinnati
, a trade show that comes to town every February to showcase vintage wares.
Rob wanted to be on Fourth Street because of the numerous architecture and design firms nearby. Originally, he wanted to be in the Lombardy Building
, but a tenant had already rented the open space there. The space Leftcoast Modern now occupies formerly housed a shoe store that moved to a larger space a few doors down.
The Hofbauers also wanted to be part of the downtown community. They didn’t feel a sense of community or regional pride in Sarasota, and were looking forward to it in Cincinnati. The people of downtown are proud of where they live and want to help rejuvenate it, Rob says.
The whole block of Fourth Street between Plum Street and Central Avenue is rented, which makes the area great for walking and shopping.
Although Leftcoast Modern doesn’t advertise, it has a Facebook page with a growing number of followers. The first day it launched, Leftcoast Modern attracted 60 followers; now, it gets about 10 to 15 new followers per day. A lot of the customers that visit the store walk by and see something interesting in the window, but for others, Leftcoast Modern is a destination. Rob says he has had customers from Louisville, Georgia and even Venezuela.
The items for sale at Leftcoast Modern range from about $30 to $2,000. Some of the more expensive items are furniture or vintage paintings and prints from the 1950s and ‘60s. Leftcoast Modern primarily gets its inventory from the wholesale warehouse in Florida, but the Hofbauers also buy, sell and trade in mid-century modern items.
By Caitlin Koenig
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