Posts Categorized: Fashion

The Vintage Sunshine Clothing’s New Look

It’s been a while now that everything has looked about the same from the parking lot in the strip mall where Vintage Sunshine Clothing is situated, and I decided it was time for a change. I stood in the shop looking around, trying to decide what I could do to dress the display windows up a bit and maybe even make the shop look a bit more attractive.

After a quiet morning (read: not one customer), I went back outside and admired my new display. I had placed a giant teddy bear to one side of the window, and a child’s table and chairs with a toy tea set. Next to that I placed a toy rocking chair with a large doll in an old-fashioned dress with long dark hair and on the very right side of the window, a little red wagon with some blocks in it. I thought it looked quite attractive and well balanced too.

Aside from that, the day remained disturbingly quiet until during the afternoon three young women came in and began rummaging around on the “as-is” table and then one began going over some of the racks that I have around the walls as well as in the center of the room too.

The upshot was that, between them, they spend over fifty bucks and made my day! Generally, this isn’t the exciting moneymaking machine I had envisioned, but I enjoy it, and as long as the business pays the rent, I can live with that.

Business had begun picking up and sometimes I hate to lock up to go across the street for lunch. Every time I do, I look back across the street and see someone walking away from my closed shop. And overall, during the past few months, business has been doing very well actually.

Mr. Park, the Korean gentleman and his wife Heyja (I’m not sure about the spelling), are very nice and I usually run across the street for half an hour for lunch at their little café. From there I can keep an eye on the Vintage Sunshine Clothing Shop.

The Parks’ daughter, home from city college for the summer, was helping although they didn’t really need her help, so after a short discussion, she agreed to come over and take care of the store four hours a day. That would give me time to get out sometimes and do some of the things I had to do plus have my lunch too without having to keep one eye on the shop just in case of an impatient customer with a lot of good merchandise.

At first it seemed a bit complicated, trying to teach Jean, the Parks’ daughter, the ropes. Jean’s very intelligent and a cute girl too, with straight black hair and huge black eyes. The work isn’t difficult of course, but there was the matter of using credit cards (at the café mom always works the register), and a few details like that. As to accepting merchandise, I told Jean that all she had to do was explain to a potential “partner” that the store kept fortypercent of the price received while sixty percent went to the owner of the merchandise. Normally I let the owner decide on the price she would be willing to accept. Sometimes when an owner appeared to have an inflated idea of the value of an item, I’d have to “talk her down” a bit until we hit upon a more realistic price point.

That Vintage Smell…

I have a small thrift shop, also known as a vintage store, that I run daily all on my own. I take care of buying and selling and cleaning up on a regular basis. This keeps me busy: I am never idle. There is always something. For example, I am in an area that consists of many types of local businesses and believe it or not, smells from some of them permeate my shop. We are that close together so it is inevitable. When it is food, it is super annoying. I don’t want my customers to think that I never clean. I had to do something about the foul air. It isn’t all the time but often enough. It can accumulate and override my vintage smell. That kind of smell is a bit musty, characteristic of my kind of shop. But other smells have their own quality and it isn’t always good.

One day a customer remarked on the odor and I was mortified. I tried to pass it off, but he kept on mentioning it. He did stay, however, and bought a few items. But I can imagine a scenario wherein a shopper leaves because of the smell. I want that vintage smell back all on its own. I thought long and hard about how to take care of it. I couldn’t complain to neighboring stores as the smells are part and parcel of their environment. I got a suggestion from a helpful friend. Get an air purifier for dust removal to clean up the air. They work wonders.

I went online as I always do when I need something practical and found quite a variety of styles and sizes. I read the description and testimonials and finally decided on a particular brand. It would arrive in three days if I paid extra. It did arrive as expected and was easy to set up and place at the back of the store. It had a little motor and the appliance rotated right and left so it covered the entire footage of the store. It was very effective as far as I could tell in no time flat. The proof was that customers mentioned how clean it smelled compared to the last time they were in the shop. If you get the right size, one air purifier of sufficient size can do the job. I immediately thought about getting one for my home. I would buy a small size for the kitchen from where most household odors arise. If you do a lot of cooking, you know what I mean. If you don’t take out the trash daily you know what I mean.

I am perfectly happy with this solution and things have returned to normal in the store. I am no longer anxious about what I will encounter when I first open the door each day. I turn on the purifier first thing and then get down to business as usual. I love working in a clean-smelling environment.

Every Day is a New Adventure

You meet some fascinating people, each with a story to tell, when you own a secondhand shop. They come in to sell some personal treasures in the hopes of securing some needed cash. I can tell when they are reluctant to let go of their items, but some are happy to find them new owners. If it is an heirloom up for grabs, I like to know its history. Some people enrich the object with an interesting background.

There was an elderly man who came in to sell a few men’s watches for under $500. Some were worn and not working, but there was a special one, rather new, that could bring in up to $500. He was ecstatic of course and said for me to display it as I wished. I felt that it would sell within a week. He started to divulge information about the previous owner. He was a count from France who bought it to use for travel as it was a modestly-priced time piece. It was nice enough to wear for dress, but not so expensive that he worried about theft. People often put their watches on the room’s dresser overnight, but they may forget about it in the morning. By nightfall, the item is long gone.

The man told me that this is what happened to this particular watch in England. The count reported the theft to the police and then went about visiting used jewelry stores to see if it appeared. He wanted the watch back since it was engraved and it had a personal significance. For a week, he made the rounds of the shops, some thrift stores like mine. Lo and behold, he found it the last day of his search. He told the owner about the theft and he was promptly given the watch. The owner knew that stolen goods had to be released by law.

The count continued to wear the watch during his travels and one night he left it on the nightstand. The next morning, he forgot to put it on. He left his hotel room and descended the elevator to have breakfast. At the end of his meal, a young woman in uniform approached his table. Mister, she said, you forgot your watch. Now that was an act of kindness. She could have easily made off with the watch to use, give as a gift, or sell. This is what usually happened. After all, he had once been a victim of hotel theft.

I enjoyed the story and regretted it when the man with the watches had to leave. I told him to return in two weeks, which he did. He came in one day and approached me at the cashier’s stand. I told him that all the watches had sold for a profit. He was grateful for the effort I put in, and then he pocked the money. I told him to bring more anytime, not even knowing from where he acquired his inventory.

Giving Something a Second Chance

I run a vintage shop, also known as a thrift store, which stocks all kinds of odds and ends. One person’s junk is another’s treasure. I have lots of them in the category of costume jewelry, personal accessories, bric-a-brac, and dinnerware. Something new comes into the store every day. I wake up each morning looking forward to the next surprise purchase. People far and wide know that I buy valuables and home décor so they come, sometimes in droves. There are dry spells when it is my turn to go on line in search of goods or put an ad in the paper. This takes more time but gets good results. Sometimes you get modest items, usually small pieces of furniture or glassware and sometimes you get a real deal unknowingly. You pay a modest price and then the perfect buyer comes in who pays a premium for what he or she wants. I have had bidding wars on some pieces. One, in particular, was a lovely piece of furniture that came into the shop not long ago. It had a good story to tell.

The item was an antique chest of drawers with terrific bronze decorative pulls. It is said to be from the collection of Elizabeth Taylor. At one time her estate was auctioning off everything she had owned—jewelry of course but also home goods. The person who brought me the desk boasted of its provenance. I was game but the piece showed some surface damage. I had to decide whether to repaint it and make it more modern or strip off the stain and apply a new coating. Antiques are not that much in vogue these days so I elected to go the paint route. To get an even application, I borrowed an air paint sprayer. I didn’t have one as mine went on the fritz years ago. I had to look around a bit as I wanted a sprayer that was attached to an air compressor for easy usage.

I so looked forward to repurposing the chest of drawers by making it a modern color—blue. Blue is a popular color and can be used in a bedroom, baby’s nursery, or guest/spare room. It adds a pop of color and livens the space immeasurably. Now a well-loved piece of Miss Taylor’s furnishings was about to get a new life. I must tell you that it looked great. The blue was a fabulous choice and I had picked a really pretty shade. After it dried, I displayed it in the store and it garnered many oohs and aws, not subtle comments. The problem was that two customers saw it at exactly the same time and both wanted to buy it immediately. I didn’t know who was there first. So, the two people started a bidding war and to my delight the price doubled. I had put in a lot of effort with the paint spray and air compressor, so I felt it was fair.

The Game Changing Lady

One of my first projects involved a mother who came originally from Mexico. She had a crib in the back of her car that she wanted to leave on consignment. I helped her get this thing out of the back. It had all been taken apart, of course, to fit it into her car.

Back inside, we spent over an hour, both of us, trying to get the crib reassembled, but in the end, we managed and actually it was in very nice condition. She explained that her baby was now in school and the crib had just been taking up space in their tiny apartment for several years. Seeing my shop, she had decided to have me sell it on consignment. She sadly explained that her doctor told her she could have no more children. Well, although this wasn’t exactly children’s clothing, it came close, to that afternoon; I thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the entire crib and offered it for sale right in the front window.

Wow! Two hours later I had sold the crib to an expectant mom and when I called the owner she too was elated. We both made a little money all in one day. From that day on, I decided to expand my approach from children’s clothing, to anything to do with children that was in good, clean condition. That included furniture, toys and of course, clothing.

Angel? Well…

Overall, yesterday turned out to be a profitable day. I had quite a few sales and several women brought in clothing their children had outgrown. Some of it appeared to be brand new. Now and then a man brings in items as well, but that’s fairly unusual. But there was one—I can’t say highlight, but rather lowlight however.

Yesterday an interesting if slightly unpleasant occurrence took place fairly early in the day. A young woman came in looking for tiny dresses. But she didn’t have any children…yet. What she had instead with a tiny dog and yes, she wanted to find a cute little dress to put on it so she could have some photographs taken. Well, while that is a bit strange, I’m flexible.

Looking around for something that might fit the dog, she set little Angel (that was its name, I learned), on the floor, we were rummaging around among some clothing when out of the corner of my eye I saw Angel assume a squatting position and while I shrieked and the woman jerked, we both watched in horror as Angel made a nasty little mess on the floor just as two other women entered the shop.

Needless to say, the two women stopped in their tracks and then immediately left without saying a word while Angel’s “mother” began shedding tears in her frustration and embarrassment.

“Hey,” I told her, “Angel’s still a baby and that’s what baby’s do…do. It’s no big deal.”

So while she picked Angel up and held her tightly, I got tissues from the bathroom and cleaned up the mess. Then I sprayed it well with some spray cleaner I have that contains bleach and soon the mess had disappeared along with Angel and her “mom”. I had been so busy cleaning I hadn’t even noticed!

The Monster

More and more women have been leaving clothing and other children-related items on consignment. I like that because while we share any income, I don’t have to go out and scrounge around for merchandise. I just sit back and wait for it to walk right through the door.

Today the merchandise that walked right through the door took me by total surprise. The day had turned warm and since I have no air conditioner, only a little fan that I picked up at St. Vincent de Paul’s, I had left the front door open. Back at my computer, I was working on a flyer I intended having printed up for distribution to other businesses in the area on the off chance that I might pick up a few new customers who hadn’t really noticed my modest little business venture.

Actually, to call this arrival merchandise is a misnomer. What walked through the door was a massive and mean-looking Rottweiler. He just walked up from nowhere and stopped in the doorway looking right at me. I didn’t know what to say or do. I’ve never been particularly afraid of dogs, generally speaking. That is to say, dogs the size and shape of the naughty little Angel, but this guy, he was intimidating.

I just looked back at him, hoping he’d turn around and leave. Actually, what he did was stand there for a moment, drooling slightly, and then he lowered his head and moved right in, heading directly toward me. With only my little desk separating me from this monster, I think it is understandable that I felt not only intimidated but actually, I felt something more closely related to frightened to death. I couldn’t move and besides, there was no place to go except for the bathroom and that door wasn’t close enough to get to me to hope to get to it before he got to me.

However, much to my surprise, as he walked around the desk and shoved his massive head up over my knees, I felt suddenly that he might actually like me. He just stood there, sniffing slightly and then looking up into my face.

After a long hesitant moment, I carefully raised one arm and began to gently stroke that huge black head and I instantly felt his entire body relax. He sat on back on his haunches, his head now resting on my lap while I petted him for a bit, and finally I began talking to him. It may sound strange that I should initiate a conversation with a perfectly strange dog that had wandered into Vintage Sunshine Clothing, but I did, and while he didn’t answer, he did appear to understand somewhat, at least the gist of what I was saying, and within minutes, I realized this was no monster about to tear me to shreds, but a warm and perhaps even loving creature who only wanted a little receptive friendship in return.

By this time, I felt enough confidence to examine his big steel spike studded leather collar and found that his name was “Dog” and he had a microchip in him someplace. As the day wore on, Dog made no attempt or inclination to leave. As the normal few customers came and went, assured by me that Dog was friendly—a fact that he demonstrated by not biting or growling at anyone—actually, he appeared to particularly fond of children and they all liked him too.

At closing time, I couldn’t just shove Dog out into the evening and since no one had come looking for him, I decided to take him home for the night with the intention of making a visit to the pound the next day to have them read the microchip and find his missing owner.

Dog proved to be a perfect gentleman. He knew to go scratch on the door if he wanted to go to the bathroom and when I went to bed, he installed himself on the floor at the foot of the bed and I have to say, I went to sleep in the confidence that I had a protector just in the remote case that a home invader might pick my little cottage as his next conquest.

The following day I did as I said and, after checking the microchip and following up on that, Dog’s owner had been member of a motorcycle gang, and from all indications, a pretty rough one at that. And Dog’s owner, a certain young man named Whitey Bamford, had just been killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. So here we were: Little me all alone in the world, and Dog, also now all alone in the world.

Well, the upshot is that Dog appears to like it here with me, and I’m growing more and more fond of him every day, so what appeared to be a monster at first glance, turned out to be my best friend and I really feel safe with Dog around. I was never a particularly timid person anyway, but there are times when a woman finds herself alone on a lonely street and those are times when even the bravest person might start looking over her shoulder.

Now Dog accompanies me everyplace I go, and at the shop he’s a perfect gentleman all the time. Well, there are those moments when he enjoys lying right in front of the door when it’s open, and that doesn’t always go over well with potential customers, but when I see that, I tell him to move it, and he does. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Grand Opening of Vintage Sunshine Clothing

Here I am, sitting quietly at my desk in the corner of my shop now, and since I have a lot of very quiet moments during the day, I decided to amuse myself, and maybe I can amuse you, by writing a little blog, if not every day, at least as the mood strikes me. Believe it or not, sometimes interesting events turn up even in a little shop in an average—well, maybe slightly below average—strip mall.

 

My thrift shop began in a vague sort of way, but I quickly realized that the average thrift store, piled with every sort of merchandise was too confusing for me, and the more I saw little kids running around, the more I began to home in on the kind of shop I really wanted. Little by little, I moved away from trying to operate a thrift store selling just about anything to children’s clothing. As many a mother came in telling me how quickly her baby was growing and expressing her need for larger clothing, I began to ask what they did with the outgrown clothing. To my amazement, most of them had no idea at all, and the idea was born. Okay, maybe it wasn’t an earth-shattering idea, but I liked it. I decided to focus on taking consignments of children’s clothing.