The Bowery Vault
The Bowery Vault, a unique blend of morning espresso, midday vintage clothes shopping, and evening libations and local live music, is either one of your favorite places in East Nashville or soon to be. This cozy, casual space is packed with texture and depth, with rich dark wood, pre-loved music, leather jackets, bright silk scarves, and a rainbow of cowboy boots. Atop the secondhand furniture displays are fun vintage eyeglasses, buttons, and patches. At the bar, you can peruse handmade sterling silver jewelry by a local artist. The scent of freshly ground espresso beans mixing with all that vintage leather is intoxicating, and the clothing displays are a feast for the eyes. The stage past the bold black wall on the left lends its rock-and-roll vibes, while the blue sparkling streamers behind the bar offer whimsy in the bright midday light.
The owners, Vero and Emily, have stitched pieces of their story together in the products and decor. Cowboy boots circle the stage, a tribute to Nashville-native Emily who does the sound for the live events on evenings and weekends. A musician herself, she takes great care in making sure every local musician who plays at The Bowery Vault has excellent sound quality. Vero, who runs the shop in the daytime, is a transplant from New York City and a musician as well—the black leather jackets lining the racks reminiscent of her rock-and-roll leanings. In fact, Vero named the boutique after one of her favorite neighborhoods in NYC saturated with music and fashion known as the Bowery. But don’t let that nod to New York fool you—Nashville and more are ever present here. Look around a bit, ask Vero about any one of the interesting pieces in the shop, and you’ll soon see the many local and even international inspirations woven throughout.
I had the pleasure of photographing Vero at The Bowery Vault in May, as spring arrived and Covid life was just starting to open up again. I had been to The Bowery Vault a number of times for live shows, watching the stage lights play across the display of local and popular beers and ciders they offer. But standing at the bar in the daytime was like being somewhere entirely new. With bistro seating by the big sunny window, a stained-glass tea display, and all the caffeine accoutrements like raw sugar, flavor syrups, and a glass cloche holding tempting pastry, I could really feel the warmth of the cafe vibe in the daytime. The international espresso menu features beans by MUD from Brooklyn, yerba mate, a unique tea from her family’s native Argentina, and a variety of Cuban-style drinks. I was excited to hear that they are also planning a revamp soon to expand their food menu, adding authentic family recipes in convenient handheld styles for breakfast and lunch customers.
On the day of our shoot, I took a break to sip a fabulously strong Americano while Vero helped a customer choose some wardrobe pieces. As she hand-chose unique items from the racks for her client and offered guidance and feedback on fit and styling, I spoke with a regular at the bar. He told me how he’s been coming weekly to the Bowery Vault more recently, just to have a coffee, chat with Vero, and de-stress from pandemic life. This was the one place outside his home where he felt safe to socialize during this tough time, knowing how much Vero and Emily have taken precautions seriously and care for their customers. I was moved to hear it but not at all surprised that he felt cared for here.
One of the questions I asked Vero while we were preparing for the shoot was how she and Emily want their customers to feel when they’re in the Bowery Vault. She sat back for a minute, really considering it, and she told me that ultimately, she wants everyone to feel at home here. She wants them to feel inspired and creative, yes, but her main priority is that everyone who enters feels comfortable and safe. As a transplant who has made Nashville home, whose partner is a Nashville native, Vero embraces that her customers are people from everywhere and wants them all to feel that they belong, no matter how different their stories might be from one another.
And you do feel that sense of community and belonging when you’re at The Bowery Vault, from Vero’s warm, open-hearted nature, from the meticulous care Emily takes in every local performer’s experience on stage, in the many stories that vintage pieces invariably hold within them, and from the exchanges between songwriter and audience during the intimate live music performances. Whether it’s your eyes, ears, or taste buds that The Bowery Vault tempts first, you’ll find a million reasons to stop in again and again to order a treat and a latte, listen to original live music from local artists, peruse racks of clothing and CDs, and add your own unique story to this welcoming space.
The Bowery Vault is located at 2905 C (second floor), Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37216. You can learn more about the shop by visiting TheBoweryVault.com.
Thank you to Vero and Emily for caffeinating me free of charge throughout this shoot. And many, many thanks to Anana Kaye and Irakli Gabriel for being my Covid-safe customer models for this photoshoot. You two really brought the heat, and these photos would not have been the same without you.