Hip Replacements, the secondhand clothes/T-shirt/accessories shop on Lexington Avenue, has changed hands again. The store, which also carries a large inventory of quirky items, has been a fixture of Asheville digger and hipster culture for well more than 10 years now. The new owners are Kip Veno, 38, and his partner for the last two years, Franzi Charen, 35. Both are lifelong diggers who are looking forward to carrying on the Hip Replacements tradition.
“I think Hip Replacements is an institution,” says Veno, who worked in the shop for three years before becoming the business’s latest co-owner. “And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Since hearing we’ve bought the shop, we’ve had people who are getting close to 30 coming in telling us how glad they are that we’re keeping the place going.”
“We were looking for something that we could do together,” says Veno, who owned the pottery studio Fired Up! on Wall Street from 2006 until selling it this year. “When this opportunity came along, we knew it was the right thing—that we were the right people to carry the business on.”
It’s Veno and Charen’s vintage vehicles that are often parked in front of the shop; in addition to working at Hip Replacements, they’re vintage-car enthusiasts, and locating and selling old cars is a sideline business for them.
“I’ve been doing this for so long that cars almost come to me,” Veno says.
While they’ve got some changes in mind for Hip Replacements, Veno and Charen aren’t planning on reinventing the wheel after acquiring the patent. They’re looking forward to giving the place a fresh coat of paint and adding a few personal touches to the décor, and one thing they’re excited about is getting back to the basics of the business, adding a lot more vintage clothes.
“We’ve got bales coming in from Raleigh and Los Angeles, and we’ll be taking a trip to the rag houses in Atlanta pretty soon,” Franzi says.
She scoffs at the notion that the vintage-clothing boom might be finite and drying up. “If you want the stuff, then you’ll go out and find it. There’s so many treasures left to be found. And besides, there’s always the ‘80s.”
Veno agrees. “The definition of vintage is always changing. When I was a kid, my mom would take me digging. She got me into it. And when we were going out, it was all ‘30s and ‘40s stuff, then the ‘50s and ‘60s came in, and on it goes. There’s always good old stuff to find, if you know where to look.”
The couple is also returning to the days when Hip Replacements was almost as much of a hangout/meeting place as it was a business. “When I moved here in 1998, Hip Replacements was one of the first places I started hanging out,” Veno says. “People who are almost 30 come in and tell us they grew up hanging out at Hip Replacements in high school. We want to bring that energy back to the place.”