Rust & Retro Market Founder Rena Starr Has Vintage in Her Veins

The new woman-owned market’s springtime debut is March 31. Visitors can expect vintage finds, handcrafted goods, food trucks and more.
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Photograph courtesy of Rena Starr

The Starr family takes vintage shopping and selling to a new level. Sterling Heights resident Rena Starr, founder of the new Rust & Retro Market, says her life began in a flea market — literally.

“My mom recently told me that she went into labor with me at a flea market, so I guess it’s in my blood,” Starr says. “I grew up running around antique shows and had a play area under the steps of my mom’s vintage store.”

Starr is a third-generation antiques business owner. Her late grandmother owned a shop, and her mother still operates Starlight Antiques in Ohio, which is where Rena grew up. Rena’s own vintage shop, Starbright Vintage, is an homage to her mother.

After a series of layoffs in quick succession in her mortgage industry career though, Starr decided it was a “sign from the universe” to finally pursue what she really loved. Now, she’s leaving her vendor booth behind to put on her own market, Rust & Retro.

“I like the vibe of really being able to do something different a couple times a year and bring a bunch of people together — that was something I wanted to do,” she says.

The new market’s debut will be a springtime fair March 31-April 1, 2023, at the activity center at the Oakland County Fairgrounds in Davisburg. General admission is $5 and VIP tickets, which include early admission and a swag bag with gifts from vendors and market cash, are $20.

The March 31 market will run 5-9 p.m. It will open again 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 1. The first 30 people to enter will receive an Easter egg with a gift inside. Starr already has plans to throw another edition of Rust & Retro in the fall, surely with its own themed goodies in the works.

The Rust & Retro Market is her latest dive into her family roots and her personal passions, which are vintage shopping and supporting other small businesses in the community.

“I know there’s a lot of similar markets, but my focus is really on the vintage community, so I hope to grow that,” she says, adding “It’s so important for small businesses to support each other, especially with the competition from Amazon and big box stores. […] I really love the support I’ve gotten and hope to be able to give that back as well.”

Considering Starr’s years of experience, it’s no surprise her first market is thoughtfully put together. Expect food trucks, photo backdrops and a coffee stand in addition to more than 50 small businesses in attendance selling things like soaps, candles, and antiques.

“It’s so exciting…and mildly terrifying!” she says. “Starting a new business is scary and being able to do all of these things is so surreal sometimes.”

While Starr says she’s glad to have every vendor at Rust & Retro, there are a few standouts: Greener Pastures Vintage with some “amazing kitsch vintage” and Sawdust and Cider, “a female owned business where she does most of the woodworking herself.”

But because vintage markets are a way for the Starr family to spend time together, the most special vendor for Starr is her own mother, whose inclusion in Rust & Retro will be her first time at a market in Michigan.

“My mom does markets in four states — she’s done markets all over and that’s how I really fell in love with markets,” Starr says. “I just got back from Ohio this weekend, and we were talking about how crazy it is that this has come together.”

And the Starr family’s love of markets isn’t stopping with Rena either. Her own 2-year-old daughter Evelyn, who was named after her maternal grandmother, currently runs around the racks of vintage dresses and shoes.

“Some people’s families are lawyers, well, my family does this,” she says. “Even my mom can remember ‘going junking’ with her grandfather. Seeing my own daughter running around is so cool.”

“I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Learn more about the Rust & Retro Market at rustandretrovintagemarket.com, and find even more shopping news in Metro Detroit at HourDetroit.com