Standing in the midst of thousands of old kitchen appliances, house wares, Life Magazines, and tchotchkes, Rich Boris lovingly refers to himself as a hoarder.
He quickly amends the statement, ensuring that he is not to be confused with the kind of hoarder that “you see on TV.”
In fact, Boris is not really a hoarder. He can more accurately be described as a curator of meticulously selected and delicately preserved artifacts from a bygone America.
But unlike a hoarder or a museum curator, Boris sells the pieces that he collects.
When people step into his 6131 Ridge Avenue store, Kitch-N Collectibles, the most common reaction seems to be awe at the amount of stuff. He jokes with customers, telling them that after they’ve made their third walk around the shop, ask him questions – it takes that long just to get an idea of what is there.
A labor of love
Boris, the shop owner and sole employee, enjoys talking about his eclectic collection, which he has amassed throughout his life. The majority of his inventory is vintage – from old GE fans to Coca Cola and beer signs to collectible figurines.
The old appliances in Kitch-N Collectibles are not in the condition that you’d find them in at any old garage sale or thrift shop. Boris painstakingly refurbishes, repairs, and restores every appliance he puts out on the floor.
“Everything is in almost perfect shape” Boris explains. “When a customer comes in to buy something, they can take it home and use it right away. It’s not something that’s there for display. It’s something that’s been around for 40 or 50 years and it still works.”
Careful tending to his items allows him to welcome browsers with an important shop policy. “Everything I sell is guaranteed. If you take something home and anything goes wrong with it mechanically in 30 days, you can bring it back and get your money back.”
Before opening his shop in February of this year, Boris rented space in a consignment shop on Main Street. He decided with the success he had there and the size of his inventory, he should open his own space.
“It’s gratifying and surprising, because I didn’t expect the response we had. Customers started coming in, and I’m very grateful because they haven’t stopped.”
The location, situated near four bus stops, offers a good amount of foot traffic on a stretch of Ridge that mainly houses doctors’ offices, salons, restaurants and other service-oriented shops.
Establishing a loyal customer base
“There is a definite change in Roxborough” said Boris, who has seen the area turn around in recent years. “I’m seeing more people. I wish there were more stores.”
A Roxborough-Manayunk native, Boris reminisces about the heyday of Ridge Avenue as the place to shop in the 1950s and ’60s. “There were four men’s shops, four or five women’s shops, three or four shoe stores. You had the appliance store, the furniture stores…”
Although there is a huge market on sites like eBay for vintage collectibles, and Boris has sold items online, he prefers having a physical shop. He enjoys interacting with customers face-to-face, being a part of the community and having the ability to demonstrate his products’ condition.
He keeps sodas and snacks stocked in his vintage refrigerators to show that they’re still in working order, and has bread and coffee on hand to test toasters and coffee grinders.
In the five months since he opened, he has grown a loyal customer base. “Customers stop by once a week, twice a week just to see new stuff – we’re constantly updating inventory.”
Kitch-n Collectibles is open seven days a week at 6131 Ridge Avenue.