Thea Morales, 40, has vintage in her blood. Her mother bought and sold antiques, and an aunt on her father’s side had an antique store in Iowa. But she didn’t pursue her passion until 2000, when she met her husband, Norman, while attending art school in Manhattan. “I’ve always been an old soul,” she says. “But I never had a chance to figure out what I liked. Then, listening to Norman talk about things he’d collected, and showing me things he liked, something woke up in me.”

Her store, Rosie’s Vintage in Huntington, which officially opened in October 2016, is named after her alter ego, Rosie, and is the result of that awakening. It features finds from the 1940s through the 1960s, which is her favorite era. “It seems like the midcentury has a pull on me,” she says. “I love the movies, the dresses, the actors and actresses. I love seeing the furniture in the rooms.”

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Morales says she wanted to make sure her store had the same pull on her customers. To that end, she’s filled it with home decor, clothing, household goods and plenty of curiosities from that time. “We want to evoke a flashback,” she says. If the store looks more like a home than a retail operation, that’s intentional. “It feels like you’re walking into a house,” she adds.

That’s because it used to be a house. The store is located in baby blue Cape-style building with white trim that was originally built as a two-room farmhouse in the 1830s. For more than 100 years, the property was strictly residential and later became zoned for commercial use and expanded into its current size. Today, the two-story, four-room space is dedicated entirely to Morales’s store, though it still retains its domiciliary provenance. “That’s the feeling I wanted,” she says. “I want it to be a nostalgic museum where you can buy stuff.”

For Morales, vintage is all about the stories each item has to tell. That’s why she’s so adamant about people having the real thing. “Buy original,” she says. “Several mass market stores are jumping on the vintage and salvage bandwagon, but why buy a reproduction when you can buy the real thing? And by buying vintage or antique, you make a difference by keeping a tiny piece of history going and lessening the size of the world’s landfills.”

Even though almost everything in her shop is for sale, there are a few things she can’t bear to part with. One is a favorite table in the shop’s main room. “It’s a very rough-looking garden table, and it’s sturdy, and it just fits the look of our store. I don’t think I could sell it,” says Morales, who has gotten offers.

She says she hopes that her customers will walk out of her store loving what they’ve bought as much as she loves the things she’s collected. “Buying vintage is all about passion,” she says. “You see something and you say, ‘I really need that.’ And you know you’re not going to find it in another store.”