News & Events
Discover Mid-America November 2008
Each Store Offers a Different Experience
by Sylvia Forbes
One of the fun parts of shopping for vintage clothing is visiting different stores. Each has its own ambiance, and may specialize in certain eras, or certain types of clothing.
With 7,500 square feet of inventory, Re-Runs is one of the largest vintage clothing shops in the country. Their midtown Kansas City location in the Westport district has some of the best vintage clothing to be found anywhere. “Items in the store must be in perfect condition,” says owner Ken Coit. “We also sell a lot of vintage jewelry and accessories. We have a second location, our warehouse, which has less perfect items. This is our thrift store, and the items here are highly affordable.”
While many vintage clothing stores only have a rack or two of men’s items, Coit devotes half his store to men’s clothing. Common items that men look for, he notes, are sport coats, shirts, neckties, hats and caps, and cufflinks for French cuff shirts. “The 1950s to ’70s are a favorite era for guys. There were lots of nice styles and fabrics at that time,” he says.
Recollections is a 7,000-square-foot antique mall in Guthrie, OK, containing the merchandise of 30 dealers, and has been around since 1994. “Guthrie is a Victorian city, founded 1889, and was the first capitol of Oklahoma,” says Eileen Miller, co-owner of the mall with her husband, Roy. “We have Victorian events throughout the year. We found that people needed period clothing to wear for these and other events, and started offering vintage clothing.
“In the beginning, we just rented clothing, such as to college kids, for events. We’ve also outfitted people for plays and themed dances. Murder mysteries are popular here, and guests come in looking for hats, gloves, men’s ties and tuxes, and other items to wear for the event.
“Now, instead of renting, we sell vintage clothing. Being an antique mall, we have lots of other items, too, that we sell, but we’re adding more clothing all the time. We try to limit our selection to the 1960s and earlier.
“I have a passion for the old styles, especially the 1930s and ’40s. Because I’m small, I found lots of things in my size. I like the long gowns of the ’30s with trains, and the sophisticated look of the ’40s. I’ve worn a lot of it — just bought it for myself. When I saw there was a market, I started buying and selling it.”
“We really love vintage because of our mother,” says Lynn Pickert, co-owner of Sister’s Antiques, along with her two sisters, Paula Scobee and Sandy Stockton. “She was a spiffy dresser, and was our inspiration for starting the store. We have her picture on our business cards. She’s wearing a jaunty little black pillbox hat, with a veil covered with black velvet dots. She also has on a long gray wool coat, fitted at the waist, with a gray fox fur collar. If we had Mom’s closet today, we’d really have something!”
Sister’s is located in Garnett, KS, in an old 19th century building, with an entrance that faces the corner, and has other beautiful architectural details. Although the shop is quite small, only 100 square feet, packed inside are lots of vintage treasures. “We pride ourselves on having unusual items for sale,” says Pickert. “We’re also one of the friendliest places. We have a group of ladies who come in every afternoon for coffee at 1:30 p.m. We decided if we weren’t going to have fun with this business, we wouldn’t do it.”
Back to Basics
At Back to Basics in Wellsville, KS, owner Jeanine Berrier focuses on making reproduction vintage clothing. “My store is eclectic; I have antiques and gifts in addition to clothing. I don’t make that much on the clothing, but it is rewarding to me.”
When customers can’t find authentic vintage clothing of the style or era that they want, they turn to Berrier to create an authentic reproduction. Berrier may create the whole item, or may just repair a piece. “Sometimes just the linings are gone, and they can be re-lined,” explains Berrier.
By making a piece to fit a specific person, Berrier can also take into account specific body variations. “One of the first dresses I made, the lady had large arms. I had to fashion a sleeve that would fit her particular arm size.” Other advantages of making clothing for a particular person, is that the person can choose colors they like, or feel look best on them.
Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes
Sabrina Braden, owner of Maude Vintage Clothing & Costumes, in Columbia, MO, opened her business in 2000. “I sort of happened onto it. Previous jobs guided me in this direction. Working as a clerk in the clothing section of a Salvation Army store, I found I had the personality to work with customers, and the stamina for it.” She also found she had a knack for creating displays and for matching up clothing in trendy combinations.
A friend told her about a manager position at a vintage clothing shop, and she applied. Soon after she got the job, the owner decided to sell. Sabrina bought out her inventory and started her own store only seven months after starting as manager.
“I love the quality of the vintage clothing. Vintage clothing is on a par with designer clothing now. Some people that aren’t necessarily into fashion, are in to quality. One great thing about vintage, is you can make them look very ‘now.’”
“I also enjoy knowing that I’m helping to recycle it, rather than throwing it away. I’m glad I live in a time that supports reusing clothing.”
Sabrina also feels a commitment to the community. She plans at least one fashion show per year, where proceeds benefit some project in the town.
Back to Basics
(for recreations of vintage clothing)
Maude Vintage Clothing