A Zabar Who Prefers Fashion Over Food

Rachel Zabar at home with her vintage collection in Los Angeles. Credit Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

Any New Yorker knows Zabar’s, the one-of-a-kind food emporium on the Upper West Side: New York is Zabar’s and Zabar’s is New York. Though Rachel Zabar spent her childhood and teenage years working at Zabar’s (her father, Saul, and her uncle, Stanley, took over the store from their immigrant parents who founded it in 1934.). She says her father insisted that his children work in the family business from a young age. Rachel, however, could never make Zabar’s her career like her older sister and younger brother. Says her father, Saul: “The store was never part of her. We knew that from a very young age. She was artistic. Even as a child, she had a natural talent for color and style.”

And, apparently, a sophisticated eye. Now, after years of trying her hand at photography, screenwriting, and documentary filmmaking, she is finding her niche as a dealer of high- end vintage clothing and accessories. And she is doing really well. After leaving New York to find her home in California, known for the vintage-obsessed, Rachel got serious about her own business five years ago. What I love is that she showed tremendous determination to make it work, as there was very little room for a newcomer in the industry. “It’s a sharp-elbowed little world, for sure, and I have learned some business lessons the hard way – who to trust, how to price, what to focus on,” says Rachel. It was at the California flea markets where Rachel started selling vintage clothing and accessories, where she learned so much. And at the heart of her present business success is her enthusiasm for her work and her passion for the clothes and accessories themselves.

Rachel Zabar fought hard to get to where she is. From ‘caviar girl’ to vintage couture dealer, she is finally seeing her vision come to life.

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