"Mr. Throwback" Michael Spitz on vintage fashion, the NBA and what he misses about living on Long Island
The alter-ego of Michael Spitz, "Mr. Throwback" first debuted in 2011. A small East Village storefront that grew into one of North America's premier vintage stores for 1980s and 1990s fashion, Mr. Throwback is a place to find original Starter jackets, NBA jerseys, snapbacks and Tommy Hilfiger swag. Beyond selling vintage wares, Mr. Throwback also has its own branded gear, including collaborations with Chalk Like, SLAM Magazine and the aforementioned Starter; local eatery The Nugget Spot collaborated with Mr. Throwback last year.
To learn more about Mr. Throwback, No Place Like Long Island caught up with Spitz for some Q&A. Simply put, the future is looking quite bright for the Bellmore native. More on Mr. Throwback -- which has close to 90,000 Instagram followers --can be found at www.mrthrowback.com.
How would you describe the Mr. Throwback business to someone who hasn't yet been to the store?
Mr. Throwback: Close your eyes, go back to the 90s to your childhood bedroom. Now open your eyes. My store is my 90s bedroom. Sports posters on the walls, jerseys hanging up. It's my paradise.
What was your transition from collecting vintage gear as a fan to being a business owner that sells it?
Mr. Throwback: I'm still trying to figure this out! To be honest the collector in me will never die. When customers come in with gear, that's my first thought -- will I be keeping this item or selling it?
Do you remember the first item you ever sold as Mr. Throwback?
Mr. Throwback: Unfortunately, I don't. Let's just make it up. It was a NBA Knicks Patrick Ewing champion jersey. (laughs)
Where do most of your items come from? Are they donations? From garage sales?
Mr. Throwback: Most items come from walk-ins. We get numerous calls/emails per day with people trying to sell us stuff. I used to go picking a lot. Thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets but it's so time-consuming I'd rather go into another store that deals with vintage.
The logo of Mr. Throwback appears to be inspired by NBA Inside Stuff. To you, is that the golden age of basketball? Or are you still a huge fan?
Mr. Throwback: I freaking loved NBA Inside Stuff as a kid. You obviously realize NBA in my jam. Ahmad Rashaad and Summer Sanders hanging out with NBA players. My dream. NBA back then was NBA back then, way less distractions no Internet, no Instagram. NBA now is fun but nothing will take away watching it as a kid
What's the future looking like for Mr. Throwback?
Mr. Throwback: Well, in November we're moving across the street into a bigger store. Focusing on making it more like a Hall Of Fame Museum rather than my childhood bedroom. I'm growing up! The Mr. Throwback-branded gear is doing much more volume and I'd like to focus on that. Who knows, maybe my product will be on a NBA player soon.
When not busy with your business, how do you like to spend your free time?
Mr. Throwback: My business is hard to not think about 24/7. As an entrepreneur and owner of a business it always takes up my free time, but I have a lovely wife who supports me in every way possible, so we're very laid-back people. Just staying up watching old movies is enough for us.
Do you miss living on Long Island? How often do you get back?
Mr. Throwback: I really don't. I do miss my parents. I should go back more but there's not much to do.
Do you have a favorite restaurant on Long Island?
Mr. Throwback: I love pizza! La Piazza for their Buffalo Chicken Slice and Stella's for their Chicken Marsala Deep Dish Slice. Also the Chinese food take-out spot called Chung Hing in the King Kullen shopping center, that's the best Sesame Chicken.
Finally, Mike, any last words for the kids?
Mr. Throwback: Enjoy your childhood! I wish kids didn't have cell phones because they're missing out on hanging with their friends and families. The interaction isn't as respectful anymore.