Meeting other people who share our passion for all things vintage is one of our greatest joys, so recently being introduced to Beth Lennon (a.k.a. Mod Betty), the founder of the wildly popular website RetroRoadmap, was one of our favorite moments of 2015.
For those unfamiliar with the website, RetroRoadmap is a curated resource for folks who want to re-discover retro mom and pop businesses that have stood the test of time all across the United States. We’re talking drive-in movie theaters, five and dime stores, retro motels, cool diners with vintage neon signage, you get the picture. We say it all the time: Call it retro, classic, throwback, old school, authentic, whatever—everyone loves something historic.
As a fellow female entrepreneur, I was also excited to talk to Beth about the backstory behind her labor of love to see how this amazing resource evolved and what her plans are for the future.
Live Historic: How did your RetroRoadmap website come to exist?
Mod Betty: RetroRoadmap started back in 2009 and has most certainly been a labor of love of mine. I have always been drawn to vintage design and through the years have captured what struck me as beautiful with my camera and continue to do so. Before I created the website there wasn’t a resource for fellow retro lovers to find destinations like this. With the internet boom and technology being so widely accessible now coupled with the fact that anyone can buy a domain name and create a website I was able to turn my passion into a reality.
The goal of RetroRoadmap is to get people excited about experiencing something authentic that takes you back in time and provides a little glimpse of the past while also making one realize that just because the place is old does not mean that the experience won’t be exciting or relevant to today’s consumers. Places that are perceived as being old often get a bad rap as being outdated or not as good because their brand is less recognized compared to that of chain stores for instance and that is just simply not the case. In fact, I beg to differ!
My dream with RetroRoadmap is to have tons of locations in each state so that folks know where they can go (both close to home and while on a road trip) to experience these unique and special places in all of their vintage glory. Supporting these businesses is like the shop-local and small business mindset for retro destinations helping to keep them around for future generations to visit and enjoy while stimulating the local economy. Everybody wins.
Live Historic: What is your background and how did you acquire your passion for vintage finds?
Mod Betty: I grew up in a history rich region of the country and studied Art History in college so I have always had a passion for art and history and how they converge. I also have experience in website design, internet marketing and a passion for photography—all of which comes in handy while running my website.
Since my husband is in a band we often head out on road trips and I am always on the search for new places to find and visit. One of my favorite things to do when we know that we are going away is to research places to check out en route or wherever we land. In fact, I love the hunt as much as the actual experience that each place offers.
I must say that although I love and appreciate retro design and throwback experiences, I also appreciate the conveniences that modern technology affords and it only gets better. New technologies allow me to connect quickly and efficiently with my audience through my website, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and all of the other social media channels where I can share my finds and engage my audience.
Live Historic: What do you consider vintage?
Mod Betty: There are no hard and fast rules for what I consider retro or vintage. But I typically look for places that have been in operation since 1965 or prior. I look for authenticity in the business’s signage, original architectural details both on the exterior and interior of the structure, fixtures, and most importantly the overall experience. It’s a gut reaction.
I take tremendous pride in the fact that all of the places on my website have been visited by me or my trusted Retro Roadmap reporters, so I can vouch for the enjoyable experiences that people will have when they visit. If I am not excited about my experience in a place then it does not go on my site. I am proud to be a reliable resource for my audience.
Live Historic: What is your favorite business or destination that you have visited on your website?
Mod Betty: Wow, this one is hard to answer. I would have to say that my personal favorite vintage business is Sine’s, one of the last remaining five and dimes left in the country located in Quakertown, PA. I just love this place. From the moment you walk in you just know that you are in a special place with its original lunch counter and general store full of goodies! Sine’s has been owned and family operated for over 100 years, which is amazing and very much part of its charm!
Live Historic: Your website is perfect for an app—do you have plans for one in the future or any other exciting news on the horizons for RetroRoadmap fans?
Mod Betty: In fact, we do have an app coming out in about six months in addition to a guidebook—not one of those boring types either—it will be much more interactive compared with what may come to mind when you think about a guide book. Without a final product to share yet . . . Stay tuned and I will be sure to keep you posted as things develop!
Fore more information about “Mod Betty” and her throwback finds across America head over to her website.