In Conversation with VNP Gallery Owner, Jonathan Winfrey

In Conversation with Entrepreneur, Jonathan Winfrey of VNP Gallery

The vintage store owner on VNP Gallery’s recent recognition by the State of Texas for small business innovation, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and more.

Jonathan Winfrey photographed by Deux Boheme

Born in San Diego, Jonathan Winfrey moved to the Coastal Bend at a young age and spent the rest of his adolescent years calling Corpus Christi home. His interest in fashion began early in life, offering a means of self-expression. Winfrey always wanted his attire to stand out against his peers, and while in high school, his desire to don a unique wardrobe gradually grew into an interest in vintage fashion. 

In 2018, Winfrey and two of his closest friends, Jimmy Canela and Emilio Trevino, opened VNP Gallery to provide the community with the clothing store Winfrey had always longed for growing up. Six years and two locations later, the shop is thriving and others around the country are taking notice, as the shop and Winfrey’s team recently received the State of Texas Governor’s Small Business Award for Outstanding Small Business Innovation and are involved with one of the highest-regarded vintage clothing conventions in the world.

Kylie Cooper: The shop moved locations in early 2023. What growth have you seen since its move, and why was it important for you to stay in downtown Corpus Christi?

Jonathan Winfrey: Since our move in 2023, the store has seen tremendous growth in all aspects of our business, from social media engagement to our community involvement within downtown. Because of this amazing community that downtown Corpus Christi has to offer, and the potential we saw for our business here, we knew we wanted to stay in the area when we were looking for new potential storefronts. 

KC: How would you describe the shop to someone who has never been? 

JW: I’d describe the shop as a blast from the past! We want everyone who walks through our door to have that nostalgic feeling while browsing through our selection of vintage clothing. 

KC: What are the behind-the-scenes challenges customers don’t see?

JW: Like any other small business, there are many challenges we face on a day-to-day basis to keep running smoothly. Vintage clothing is just getting harder and harder to find as the years go by. To ensure we are providing the best vintage shopping experience for our customers, we are constantly searching for clothing in any and every way possible—from traveling from city to city to the walk-ins customers bring to sell at the shop. We are always searching.

KC: VNP Gallery received a State of Texas Governor’s Small Business Award for Outstanding Small Business Innovation at the 2024 Governor’s Small Business Summit. What was that experience like and what does the honor mean to you and the shop?  

JW: The experience of winning the award was an amazing one, to say the least. Being surrounded by many other small business owners and important people within the Coastal Bend was very motivating. That’s the first award the store has ever won, and it’s always nice to be recognized from time to time for all the hard work we put into running this business. 

KC: Do you believe clothing can affect a person’s confidence or emotions? How does wearing a great outfit improve your self-esteem or mood?

JW: Yes, I do believe clothing has an impact on how you feel—whether it’s a vintage t-shirt giving you a happy nostalgic feeling or you just know you’re rocking the best fit in the room, people find confidence and express themselves in the outfits they pick out every day, and we’re here to help make that happen. 

Photography by Deux Boheme

KC: You’ve partnered with local shops such as Washed Out and Threads to host events. Why do you feel collaborating with like-minded shops is important? 

JW: As a small business, we feel it is very important to collaborate and work with other like-minded businesses here locally. Not only to grow all of our businesses together but to strengthen our local thrift and vintage community here in Corpus Christi. Our THRIFTSTOCK event we hosted with Washed Out and Threads this spring was a true example of the fact that if we all work together, we can provide an even more amazing experience for our community.

KC: Any exciting projects you have in the works that we should be on the lookout for?

JW: Make sure to check out our monthly ArtWalk vintage market, held every first Friday in front of our store; we take over the street with racks of clothes and a DJ. We have plans for market events and pop-ups throughout the summer, so be on the lookout for those details on our social media. Also, we’ve been traveling the country with Thriftcon, one of the highest-regarded vintage clothing and collectible conventions in the world with traveling pit stops. We just finished the Houston stop in June and are looking forward to being at the Portland, Oregon, event July 20-21.  

427 Peoples St  |  @vnpgallery