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How vintage kit lover Aaron brewed himself a business in Portadown

'For somebody of my era, it'll resonate with them quite well. It was the very impressionable and exotic nature of them that fascinated me'

Aaron McIldoon (pictured far right) inside his Vintage Kit Co store in Portadown

A self-professed nostalgia craver, Aaron McIldoon from Portadown is the first to admit he has rose-tinted glasses about the things of yore.

A football enthusiast, he’s particularly fond of the sporting greats from the 1990s and before, remembering the glory days of Football Italia on Channel 4.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the 38-year-old was frequenting online vintage shirt storefronts when he decided to pair his love of classic football with his other passion – coffee.

Now, what he described as his “pipe dream” has become a reality and Aaron has opened Vintage Kit Co. in Portadown – a nostalgia-themed coffee shop selling classic football jerseys alongside tea and traybakes.

Speaking to Armagh I Aaron said: “I’ve always had an interest in football shirts going back as far as I can remember. I suppose a lot of that sort of is testament to the glory days of Football Italia being on Channel 4.  

“For somebody of my era, it’ll resonate with them quite well. It was the very impressionable and exotic nature of them that fascinated me.”

For Aaron, he decided to do something more with his passion amidst the monotony of the pandemic.

“The business was born through what, at the time, felt like unlimited time during lockdown. I found myself buying stuff online out of boredom as a form of retail therapy because I had all the time in the world.

“At that stage, it kind of went full circle and I thought, ‘hold on a second, why aren’t I selling these?’

“I started trading online in 2021 as it’s own entity – and I suppose the coffee shop seems life a bit of an unnatural evolution of the business, but here we are!”

He continued: “It was maybe ten years ago the notion landed on me about doing something with coffee. As to what that might have been it never got fleshed out. Sometimes life just gets in the way and you end up on a different path.

“But there was also a yearning to do something that way and fortunately enough now everything has come together in that format.”

He stresses however, that the concoction of coffee and kits has been done ‘tastefully’, saying, “It’s not a case that if you found yourself in store as somebody who isn’t particularly fussed on football that it would be overbearing or divisive, but the footballing element is the USP.”

On the unique vintage style of the shop, Aaron said: “Being that sucker for nostalgia gives you that room to look at things through rose-tinted glasses and think, ‘sure it was better then, it was simpler’.

“We have your old-style VHS player, your Super Nintendo’s and everything in keeping with the theme. People will always hark back to their fonder times, whether it’s school-oriented or work-oriented and people do tend to be pretty passionate about football and all that comes with it, so it certainly creates a pretty clear talking point that’s for sure.”

He added: “My wife’s been very supportive and I’ve been very fortunate in my work and career to have had some excellent bosses that have all taught me different things and a particular mentor that taught me a great deal – the man that never made a mistake never made anything!”

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