This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
All Balboa Weekend celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year and I celebrated my 9th anniversary of attending ABW. This Balboa homecoming/family reunion is one that I look forward to every year for the friends, the amazing dancing, and the wonderful vintage shopping that is available in Cleveland. This year, my report will combine shopping inside and outside the hotel, since some brick and mortar stores set up booths at ABW and other remain in their brick edifices. All are worthy of mention and this year’s shops and vendors did not disappoint!
My partner in crime this year was Berkeley, California dancer Alisa Szatrowski – I’ll give an honorable mention to Jack Flaps, a wonderful brunchy place she discovered and where we fortified ourselves before a day of vintage shopping.
Our first stop is my always first stop, Sweet Lorain, and the owner Redwin Lewis welcomed us with open arms and escorted us back to the 30’s and 40’s area, where he showed us they had pulled additional racks of 30’s and 40’s clothing out just for ABW. *squee!* Soon, Alisa and I were lost in a jungle of clothing, amongst the close and very full racks, calling out to each other as if we were playing Marco Polo to try to find each other to show off choice garments. Sweet Lorain did not disappoint and Alisa and I soon had a dressing room full of things to try on, with another helpful employee pulling additional garments based on our selections. Seriously, an A+ for customer service. We both left with some wonderful pieces and warm fuzzy feelings about everything at Sweet Lorain.
Next stop was Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes, which is an impressive warehouse full of clothing, and particularly has a large selection of menswear, which I wrote about more in-depth last year. We ran into dancer and DJ Bill Speidel and we did a quick run through the menswear, as I’m always shopping for certain dudes and the hubs. I left Chelsea’s empty-handed, but Alisa had great luck with late 30’s/early 40’s dresses in velvet and faille – dreamy!
The vendor market at ABW opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and we were there even a little before that, with anxious vintage lovers already hovering over the booths.
The first booth you come to is Re-Mix Vintage Shoes and this booth was abuzz all weekend, with ladies buying shoes, trying on many more, and ogling the beautiful wares. The big hit this year was a new style, Gabriele, which is a low heeled 1930’s shoe with a t-strap, an alternative to the Balboa Style, with a slightly different shape and different colors. I would love to hear some reviews from the ladies who bought them and wore them this weekend – I did see Valerie Salstrom try them on the first day and then didn’t take them off as she continued to set up for the event!
Next in the line of vendors was Flower Child, which is comprised of several individual vendors that make up part of the brick and mortar store, and which takes up most of the hallway. They are always good about bringing in new inventory every day, taking requests, and having a nice selection of clothing, accessories, and some novelty items and knickknacks from the swing era. My favorite ABW find for this year came from Flower Child’s booth, a fully functional scales brooch, perfect for me as both a Libra and a lawyer – for serious, the scales have tiny chains and you could actually put things in the bowls and the scales would tip, SO COOL.
New to the vendor list this year was Sugar Shakers, the handiwork of Joanna Kassoulides Thibault, who got her start stitching chorus girl costumes for a troupe of the same name in Toronto and decided, after accumulating a wardrobe of costumes, that she would sell some of these versatile pieces. I love a good trumpet skirt and Joanna had a nice sampler of trumpet skirts, polka dot wrap blouses, bakelite-inspired earrings, as well as sharing a table with her husband Mike Thibault‘s handmade earrings and Vintage Jazz Art prints.
Next in the vendor lineup is ChatterBlossom, aka Jamie Sturdevant, who is local to me, but for ABW everyone can see her amazing handiwork up close, with flowers and headpieces made from vintage millinery flowers and jewelry made from vintage buttons. Seeing in person is even better, as I noted people running to their rooms for garments, trying to match a bloom to a dress, and (I know I’m a broken record on this, but) the colors in the vintage flowers are just so right for vintage clothing, for obvious reasons, and they are so much more exquisitely detailed than most modern artificial flowers I have seen. Jamie does custom pieces, too, so you can find the perfect bloom for that one of a kind vintage dress.
Holding down the end of the hallway was The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry. The owner would also bring in new items daily, and even brought in some divine tropical rayon fabric one day, that was gone before it could hit the market (I can’t wait to see that blouse, Jamie!). Oh, to have a warehouse full of endless vintage things to sell!
Each year the vendors at ABW are one of the things I look forward to most about the event and I truly appreciate the effort the vendors put into setting up, displaying, being there to sell, breaking it all down, and sometimes traveling great distances – I think Philip Heath, the owner of Re-mix Vintage Shoes, wins this year by flying in and shipping shoes from California, though past ABWs venders have flown in from as far away as the UK and Australia. We love that you do it and we’ll keep buying all the beautiful things. :)
Here are some more photos of all the lovely things: