It cannot be overstated the impact COVID-19 has had on all aspects of our swing dance community and, while our old way of life seems distant at the moment, I see friends and colleagues finding new ways to both support themselves and endear them to us. New Orleans based swing dance instructor Mia Goldsmith Halloran and jazz trombonist Charlie Halloran are two of my favorite people – I have been an ardent admirer of Mia’s dancing for so many years and Charlie is an incredible and versatile musician with whom both my husband and I have enjoyed sharing the stage – and I watched them on social media as they, like so many friends, figured out their next steps.
They did an adorable series of YouTube music videos (Quarantunes) and Charlie’s trombone duet with his neighbor from their respective porches went viral. Then I saw Charlie had gotten a sewing machine, which has become one of the central pieces of my pandemic activities, and cheered him on. Then Mia messaged me that she was starting an online vintage clothing business and we discussed logistics.
As is common with people with excellent taste, both of them have already excelled in their offerings.
Mia launched Golden Levee Vintage last month as an Instagram-based shop at @goldenleveevintage – I know Mia has collected vintage clothing for a long time and, like anyone who has, you likely have enough vintage to open up a de facto shop. Beyond that, it looks that she may have been collecting in earnest to start a vintage shop, which has been a dream of hers. Mia’s initial offerings in the past two months have been an excellent mix of 1940s through 1990s vintage, with a distinctly wonderful Mia viewpoint – even the later vintage has the nod to a prior era (hello, 90s tropical rayon does 40s dress I missed out on because I am SLOW) and everything is cheerful, embracing color. If Mia’s shop was a mood board, it would evoke words like tropical, comfort, dance-friendly, lounge, elegant, fun, light, color, whimsical, basically an aspirational wardrobe for my fantasy life in New Orleans. Follow her and watch for more goodness!
Charlie and his new sewing machine created Crescent Pennant Co. (@crescentpennantco), with handmade pennants in classic style featuring mostly New Orleans locations. This might seem like a hyper-local focus to some, but since New Orleans is the cradle of jazz, the locations have meaning to a wider audience – particularly if you know what it means to miss New Orleans. My absolute favorite pennant he’s created thus far is for Armstrong’s Secret 9, Louis Armstrong’s baseball team. Within weeks of launch, local boutiques were already buzzing and he’s been working hard to fill orders and create new custom designs.
Follow these two Instagram accounts for more goodness in the future – cheers!
I attended my 12th All Balboa Weekend this past weekend and, although I didn’t compete, DJ, run a fashion show, or run a band, I still managed to fill my weekend with so many good things and people even though I came there “just to sing.” Of course, no trip to Cleveland would be complete without a bit of vintage shopping, both on-site and in town. You can check out past blog posts for the scoop on Sweet Lorain and Chelsea’s Costumes, the former being my favorite vintage store of all time and the latter being a great place to score some inexpensive and awesome menswear.
At the Holiday Inn, the vendors did not disappoint this year. There are always a few new items of ABW merchandise each year, including baseball tees with the phrase “I’d rather be doing Bal” and a cute silhouette of Bal dancers on a solid tee and a striped tee. If you’ve looked at the ABW baby tees and thought you didn’t have a use for such things, have you considered that your dog may look adorable in just such a tee? A sweet pup named Luna came to hang out at the event (who may be the most calm and tolerant dog I’ve ever seen) and did a little photo shoot for us and everyone’s heart melted just a little bit.
Re-mix Vintage Shoes was out in full force with an array of Bal-friendly footwear in colors to suit just about any outfit. I didn’t see any new models, but that doesn’t particularly matter when you are dealing in the classics and when you want to replace that pair of gold Balboas that you’ve worn out that not even a gold Sharpie can salvage at this point to make them look like you didn’t put them through a meat grinder…it always makes me happy to walk by this table and see people excited about buying a pair of Re-mix shoes.
De Fils en Perles returned with even more gorgeous beadwork and whimsy. Classic Art Deco-inspired cuffs abound, a new series of rings were added, along with a number of butterfly designs (which were super popular and sold out last year), and (for funsies) some 8-bit characters from Super Mario Bros. and some Minions. The detail here is scrumptious, with no two pieces alike.
Dancestore made an appearance, although I should really call it the Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) booth because it’s more than just Dancestore shoes, it’s also a collection of vintage and vintage-inspired items (such as castoffs from Nina’s incredible shoe collection), as well as hand-crafted items made by Laurie, such as knitted caps for newborns.
Victor Celania set up a booth for his successful custom menswear business, Established Sartorial – based in Austin, Texas, victor has clients both within and outside of the swing dance community and decided to try a vendor booth at ABW. Victor is also the bandleader of the Waller Creek Vipers, whose debut album Bespoke Bounce is hot off the presses and you could pick up a copy at his booth while you drool over all the lovely menswear fabrics.
Jamie Sturdevant of ChatterBlossom was busy every time I rolled by her booth and I think people are finally in the same place I have been for a while, bringing Jamie garments and getting her expert opinion on just the right color, texture, and scale to complete your look. I say complete because I never quite feel right with just my plain hair at a dance event anymore, a flower just elevates an already special night of music and dancing. I also spotted a number of men picking up her boutonnieres, which delights me to no end.
Holding it down at the end of the hallway were the ladies of Flower Child, who informed me that this is their favorite event to collect things for throughout the year, and you can tell that they know their audience well. I find myself revisiting this area multiple times throughout the event, to look for myself and to marvel at how well-curated it is, to the point that I picked out a couple of things with specific people in mind and those people ended up buying those garments. They get us. I saw that they had more separates this year for women, gorgeous blouses, and my favorite piece of clothing was a light turquoise gabardine jacket that Victor picked up for himself.
That’s all for now – save your pennies for next year and join us at All Balboa Weekend for excellent dancing, music, and shopping!
I apologize for the tardiness, but, as we all know, life happens outside of the Internet – always better late than never is the All Balboa Weekend vendor post, because ABW has, in my opinion, the best vendor aggregate year after year. This was my 10th ABW, if you can believe it, and the first one I couldn’t attend for the entire weekend, but I promise I crunched to maximize my time there and to give you this attempt at a comprehensive vendor post.
Before we get into the shopping, I have two things to note:
I was given the incredible opportunity to examine Genevieve Grazis’ performance clothing, including the famous Beach Clip dress, and was invited to talk about the dress’ construction and details in front of the entire event as part of Kate Hedin and Bobby White‘s presentation and demonstration of the dress. While everyone is gaga over the 11 godets that, combined with 1930’s satin, make this dress spin like a dream (and rightly so!), but my favorite part of this dress are the sleeves – a triple pleats, both front and back, along the arm hole seam with two piped seams straddling a panel in the middle of the sleeve. The result is a puffed sleeve created by divine architecture.
2. Coif magicians Destinee Cushing and Francine Amendola combined forces to form the Hepcat Salon, delivering incredible and pristine vintage hairstyles all weekend long. I know several people who will get their hair done and wear it for a couple of nights or most of the weekend so they don’t have to worry about doing it multiple nights and to keep it out of their faces, which I think is a great plan to maximize your ‘do and practical for a dance weekend with lots going on that you don’t want to miss.
The flagship booth at ABW is always Re-mix Vintage Shoes, who makes very rare appearances at any events outside of southern California. I know people wait until ABW to buy their first (or second, or 10th) pair of Re-mix shoes so they can try them on and see how the styles fit their feet. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them all in a row.
Next in the lineup was Sweet Lorain, which is my favorite vintage shop in Cleveland. To call it a shop is really an understatement, it’s almost a warehouse, definitely a department store, and you can get lost in there for hours amongst the clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, records, Christmas decorations, and on. Of course, for ABW, they pull a selection of garments with dancers in mind from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so that you don’t have to do the digging, it’s already been dug out for you and is sitting in the hallway of the event. My story this year is that Andy Nishida and Rita Shiang (dancers and organizers of Richmond, VA’s Jammin on the James) had come to Cleveland a few weeks earlier for the World Congress on Art Deco and had scouted a 1920’s dress for me at Sweet Lorain. 1920’s dresses are hard for me because of my body type, so I was hesitant to phone in the purchase, even though Rita knows my size. I show up at ABW with this texted photograph of a dress and the owner, Redwin Lewis, knew the dress immediately, still had it, knew it would be perfect for me – and it was! Sometimes vintage shopping is easy and sometimes it takes a few steps to find a dress a home.
De Fils en Perles returned to ABW this year with even more intricate beadwork, much of it Art Deco-inspired. I was particularly smitten with the earrings this year, which were often made of an exquisite central bead with smaller embellishments and looked perfect for certain 1920’s and 1930’s ensembles. I am often overwhelmed by jewelry, so many beautiful small things at once, and I took some time to sit down and go through the earrings and really appreciate the detail that goes into each piece.
Retro Rosie made its ABW debut this year and before I even got to ABW, there was a buzz that a vendor was there selling Trashy Diva. I spoke with Miranda Scott, the owner, who runs this brick and mortar shop and an online shop, that most of her sales are online. I found this unsurprising, given the specialty nature of the garments (as much as I like to think we are the norm), and was glad she gave ABW a chance. She had several Trashy Diva dresses that are discontinued in most sizes, so secondary stockists are essential for the dress you may have missed (since they TD lines are selling out within days of launch, nowadays) and the chance to try things on in person. She also had a selection of Besame Cosmetics, another item that I can’t purchase locally to me, but that I see on the internet all the time on vintage blogs and it’s great to see the colors in person and be able to try them on, as well.
Jamie Sturdevant’s Chatterblossom booth is always a bright spot, with her cheery disposition, creative floral-inspired ensembles for each day, and a bevy of blooms for each possible scenario and outfit. Indecision abounds at this booth, as there are so many to choose from, so many outfits to match, so many beautiful pieces that you just want to come home with you. My favorite pieces this year are the giant lilies she acquired earlier in the year by chance, they are just so big and elegant, I want one in every color! Message her about matching one to your favorite ensemble, her Etsy listings are only the tip of the floral iceberg.
Finally, at the end of the hallway are the Flower Child ladies, who also do an amazing job of curating just the kinds of vintage goods dancers and swing era enthusiasts want, and also go back to their warehouse to look for items to fill specific requests. With new things brought back every day, it’s worth a gander multiple times during the event to keep up with what is in stock. My favorite item this year, brought to my attention by Jamie and ultimately purchased by Destinee, was a chartreuse 1930’s gown studded with rhinestones, featuring braided straps and a bias cut guaranteed to flatter the figure. Destinee wore it on Saturday night and, with her impeccable hair and makeup and a Chatterblossom bloom, looked like a legit silver screen movie star – or perhaps early technicolor, because no one should hide the color of this gown!
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:
A few weeks ago I attended the third annual Art Deco Society of Virginia Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, Virginia. I have seen this event grow from “let’s all meet in a park at the same time” to an organized event at the historic Wilton House Museum, with live music, vintage vendors, an on-site barber, food trucks, photo booth, contests, media coverage, shuttles, parking attendants, an MC, and even an alcohol sponsor. I was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the vendors and pleasantly surprised to find vintage vendors that were new to me.
Let’s start on one end of the line and move to the other – first in the lineup was Chatterblossom, who has become my own personal vintage millinery Philip Treacy. The gorgeous millinery was on display, as well as lovely jewels, flapper headbands, and a nice selection of menswear accessories. If only women’s dress shirts didn’t button from the opposite side, a tie clip with vintage microphone would have certainly left with me!
Another standby for me, Raleigh Vintage, was present with a drool-worthy display of Art Deco era goods and jewels. This display was on the heels of another festival in Raleigh the previous day, but the busy bees at Raleigh Vintage persevered and were present in force. I am seriously in love with all of the jewelry in their display, can I just take the silver tray full of necklaces home with me? Also, lots of event-appropriate cotton frocks in lovely prints, embroidery, and all things just-so.
Machine Dance Vintage and Brooksy shared a lovely space together, complimenting a rack of MDV vintage dresses and goods with Brooksy’s hand-crafted 1920’s hats and headbands. I have long been a fan of MDV’s Etsy shop and it was good to see some of these great vintage pieces in person. I have also been following and eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-launched Brooksy line of hats, created by ADSVA president Olivia Lloyd. The construction of these hats and the attention to detail is as impeccable as Ms. Lloyd’s vintage wardrobe. I am holding out for Myrna Loy’s pixie hat!
My husband’s family lives in Virginia Beach, which has many great thrift stores, but I was unaware of VB Vintage – no brick and mortar shop, but certainly an impressive enough of a display that I was kicking myself for not knowing about them before now. Their Etsy shop doesn’t even come close to displaying the number of goods they had on hand at the Gatsby picnic, which means there’s even more to come – also, the benefit of being on location for these trunk shows! Lots of great accessories, knick knacks, and a few stellar pieces of clothing from the era.
Monkey Shynes was up next, with a small selection of 78 rpm records and assorted vintage memorabilia and crafts.
Finally, on the other end of vendor’s row was MA’s Mad House of Adornment, another Etsy vendor with great feathered headpieces and eclectic jewelry. I am particularly fond of feathered headpieces made from feathers with curled ends – the effect is really stunning and the result is that they tend to lay so nicely in whatever configuration I have seen them in. I was also amused by the Scarlett O’Hara necklace – the movie came out in 1939, so we’ll humor the reference.
This year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party in August was one of my favorites for several reasons – 1) I have the routine down for this event in terms of logistics and getting around NYC, 2) I know a lot of the regular attendees after attending for several years and some new friends made an appearance at the lawn party, making for a very lovely social event, and 3) I freakin’ won the Charleston contest! Always a favorite are the vendors who set up their wares on Governor’s Island – this year, the lawn party vendors really outdid themselves. There were old favorites, as well as some new vendors – here we go!
I was excited to see a booth for Gretchen Fenston, Milliner, because Gretchen is one of the stars of the Jazz Age Lawn Party – as long as I’ve been attending the lawn party, Gretchen has taught the beginner Charleston and Peabody lessons with Roddy Caravella and, aside from that, she herself is a main attraction of style, elegance, and superbly coordinated and whimsically crafted millinery. Seriously, her hats are just impeccable, matching her ensemble with period aplomb and her own take on the Art Deco era. Her booth had several hats and headpieces for sale, along with a lookbook of her designs. *drool* If you are interested in a custom piece, I hear she takes orders…
Just down the line the Goorin Bros. had their impeccable line of hats, for ladies and gents, set up, with even more lids for sale. I have always been impressed with their hats and friends who own said hats speak highly of this company. They had a fantastic selection of summer hats, perfect for the lawn party, from straw fedoras to linen caps to summer cloches. Goorin Bros. has a great retail website, so if you missed the lawn party you can always place your order online!
Next up was Wildfell Hall Vintage, which had an exquisite collection of Art Deco era clothing and accessories, and some other choice vintage pieces. My partner in lawn party crime, Raleigh dancer Elizabeth Tietgen found an amazing purple floral early 30’s dress that had already been restored, seam by seam, and new snaps put in the side with reinforcement. It looked incredible and she’ll save at least what she paid for the dress having it repaired or reinforced – what a find! I saw at least 3 things I couldn’t live without, but were not in my size…*sigh* Gorgeous, gorgeous things.
One difficult thing to come by for the lawn party are vintage sunglasses, because you can’t always dance with your parasol and maybe your cloche brim just isn’t deep enough – Belle Pagaille came to the rescue with some of the most kick-ass sunglasses I have ever seen, all with a vintage bent, though some of them verged on ultra-modern, or even steam punk. The company designs the glasses themselves, which I thought was great, so you are getting these lenses from the design source, not a reseller.
Outfitter of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, the Prohibition Clothing Company is certainly a staple of the lawn party, offering some of the best looking reproduction menswear I have seen. I was particularly excited this year because they have launched their women’s line of clothing, which includes a trumpet skirt with killer seaming and a pair of tweed knickers that were whispering to me to bring them home. The tailoring on everything was killing me, just impeccable. After seeing this display, I’m ready for OcTieBer!
Next to the general admission tent is, perhaps, the largest lawn party vendor, Dora Marra, which had so many blooming and feathered headpieces in every imaginable color and configuration it was almost overwhelming. This was definitely the go-to place for a bit of whimsy to stick on your head to augment your lawn party outfit. They were simply swamped, so I didn’t get a really good look at everything, but thankfully they have an Etsy store where you can take your time and browse the vast collection.
Noble Savage Vintage had another lovely display and some real Art Deco era garments that were selling like hot cakes. I glanced at some black 1920’s Mary Janes and a lovely bejeweled Art Deco pin, but then my eyes met a pair of woven mesh 1930’s heels and it was all over. “What size are these?” “7.” MY SIZE. I tried not to hyperventilate while I tried them on, but I held it together for the most part and squee’d a little bit during the check out. As you can tell, Noble Savage was my favorite of the day, LOL.
Check out more of the lawn party vendor goodies below! Ciao!
I think it’s safe to say that All Balboa Weekend has the best vendor setup for any event in the United States. With veteran vendors and a few new ones, this year was a good year to bring a little extra to spend at ABW.
The crown jewel at ABW is always Remix Vintage Shoes, who makes their only swing dance event stop here – you can try on that new style you spotted on the website, get that pair of Balboas you’ve been eyeing on any number of Bal follows, and this year they even took pre-orders so that you could be sure to get the style, color, and size of your choice and have them held for you at the booth until you pick them up. Owner Philip Heath was always helping someone with a pair, either giving advice or giving an opinion after they try them on, and he was at the booth until the wee hours of the morning. The demand is so high for these shoes that he pays to ship them from California and flys himself to Cleveland, hundreds of pairs just waiting for the right foot to take them home. Philip also told me that Remix was also working on revamping the website, so that’s good news for everyone!
Making their return to ABW were the ladies of Flower Child, a vintage store in Cleveland that has many contributors, and The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of 20’s through 40’s. The ladies set up an impressive display of menswear, womenswear, accessories, shoes, jewelry, sewing notions, and Flower Child even had a large display of hats that would be appropriate for the Saturday night theme “A Night at the Races.” It was a race to get down there at get the goods at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday when the vendors opened, before it got picked over. Thankfully, the Flower Child and Cleveland shop ladies would replenish some of the supplies throughout the weekend, which I love about them – you never know what they are going to bring back the next day, and don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for because they may bring back that very thing!
On the new vendor front is a vendor who is near and dear to me here in North Carolina, ChatterBlossom (aka Jamie Sturdevant) who runs a fantastic Etsy shop for her handmade blooms and jewelry, as well as vintage accessories. What sets Chatterblossom apart are the vintage millinery blooms she uses to make some of her hair pieces – the colors are so RIGHT, especially when you see the color wave across the hall on the Flower Child clothing racks, you just KNOW that these blooms are vintage. I know she did well because her supplies of vintage flowers were dwindling by the end of the event.
Finally, we have FROMChloehong, who has taken the swing fashion world by storm, first with her trumpet skirts (MY storm), then with reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jackets that she produced and took orders for especially for Frankie 100, then with her stellar showing of tailored menswear at the Frankie 100 fashion show. Chloe was on hand with sample skirts and menswear for people to try on for custom orders – there were so many more styles and colors available than I’ve seen on her Facebook page, and swatch books of fabrics that I just wanted to hold and touch and flip through to marvel at the options. I can tell you that we are just scratching the surface on what Chloe Hong is capable of accomplishing!
And that’s a wrap! Cheers to you, shoppers, for continuing to support these businesses and All Balboa Weekend!
Still basking in the afterglow of All Balboa Weekend, the Balboa Mecca that occurs every year in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a hub for so many things I love – good dancing, good music, good vintage shopping, good company, and good cupcakes. I left with a full heart and a shopping bag full of goodies – it was like Christmas!
My first stop in Cleveland, per usual, was Sweet Lorain, the vintage department store where I seem to have the most luck finding things in my size. I was greeted at the door by the owner, Redwin Lewis, who remembered me from years past (and possibly phone orders – yes, you can call them back if you decide later that you really want/need something you saw, even 6 months later the item may still be there!) and we chatted about high school reunions and all the films (THE film being Captain America) shopping at his store. I was on a mission for a full slip with some sweet details and Sweet Lorain did not disappoint, with two full racks to choose from.
On a personal note, I was ecstatic to find a red plastic beverage pitcher at Sweet Lorain, perhaps circa 40’s/50’s, that I have been seeking for the past decade or so – when I was in undergrad I picked up a plastic yellow pitcher from Target that looked vintage, with some sweet Deco detail on it. I probably paid less than $10 for it. My dad saw it in my apartment and was immediately drawn to it, asking where I got it, and how much it cost. I told him that I had purchased it at Target several months ago and that it was out of stock. He was crestfallen – my grandmother had owned one during his childhood and he had always thought it was a great design, with a lid that opens when you tilt it and closes when it’s upright. Flash forward to ABW 2013, I was chatting with Redwin in the housewares section and my eye caught a flash of red in that distinct shape. It was the pitcher! I text messaged my dad a photo of it and he confirmed that he wanted it. Done! I look forward to “reuniting” my dad with his childhood pitcher this coming weekend. 🙂
My next stop was Chelsea Costumes, which I had somehow managed to miss on all prior visits to Cleveland. The sheer volume of square footage packed literally floor to ceiling was overwhelming in a way that only a disorganized Goodwill warehouse of great magnitude could rival. The racks were three tiers high, with the top two racks reachable by rolling staircases located on each aisle. Adding to the library feel of the place, the ends of the racks were labeled by decade range. I searched in vain for the early vintage clothing and had to ask where it was located – at the end of one of the 1950’s racks was a single rack with 1940’s clothing. I found a couple of items I liked, but they had fatal flaws (fading, shredding, etc.). I’d say it’s definitely worth a look, especially if you are into later decades, and it’s an absolute must if you are looking for menswear – I saw just about every size, shape, color, item, and a range of seasonal weights, with a massive selection. You do have to be a digger to make this worthwhile, but the prices are good and worth the dig.
Back at the hotel, ABW had an array of vendors, some new, some old, that filled up the hallway in front of the ballroom. The first vendor was The Cleveland Shop, with an array of clothing and accessories for men and women. Favorites included some divine shoes, a burgundy silk 1930’s gown, and every dress that went on the mannequin and immediately sold.
Next up was the ABW merchandise, which featured some cool shirts with stripes, a henley, and a girly slouchy tee with cool sleeve detail. This year also saw the return of the ABW shoe bag – I do love a shoe bag!
Moving down the hallway, the next vendor was the ever-popular Re-mix Vintage Shoes, with owner Philip Heath on hand to help all the men and women eager to try on their shoes. This year, they took advance requests from people for specific shoes and sizes, so if you wanted a guaranteed shot at trying on a certain pair in your size, you got that chance. I took advantage of this for my husband, who is sort of between sizes and needed another pair of oxfords. It also resulted in Re-mix bringing a number of pairs of wedges, which have never made it out to ABW, since we mostly dance “the Balboa” in heels. 😉
Bettie Page Clothing made its debut as a vendor this year, spearheaded by the lovely Shannon Butler, who is now the manager of the Bettie Page store at the Mall of America in Minnepolis, MN. Shannon brought another innovative way to make sure everyone got to try on the clothing and get the sizes they need – she kept a stock of the dresses, shirts, and skirts she brought as try-ons and once you decided what you wanted, she called the Mall of America store, placed your order, and it was shipped to you (sometimes that day!) free of charge. In addition to all the adorable clothing, she brought these great adjustable belts that are the perfect dress belt, for when that vintage dress comes without a belt or maybe you lost the belt or want to add a belt…regardless, good, skinny dress belts are hard to come by and these babies are only $10 and come in several handy colors.
Flower Child took up about half the hallway, with a wonderful display that moved from housewares and accessories, to jewelry, to several large racks of clothing at the end of the hall. Because Flower Child is made up of several vendors, there were a range of prices in the shop, and they definitely had the larges selection. Favorites included a 1940’s gold bathing suit, rayon Asian print pajamas, and an adorable dress with strawberry ribbon trim that came home with me.
Finally, Dancestore.com made an appearance with most of their line of shoes. I liked that they had a set of “try-on” pairs that you could put on and take for a spin during one dance. It helps you decide, cuts down on wear and tear of new pairs, and also gives you an idea of how they will feel once they are broken in. Great idea!
This year was probably the best year for vendors yet – many of the vendors are veterans at this point, they know their audience, and they only bring the best stuff as it pertains to swing dancers. I am elated that they continue to come out, year after year.
ATTENTION: This post formerly advertised a sale where if you wear it out of the store, it’s yours for free. I went to Beggars and Choosers today and they were very embarrassed that their printer and local media had mis-advertised the sale – the free sale was only for Thursday and only for clearance items from the basement. So sorry for the confusion! That said, there were still tons of great vintage items on sale for 50% off – my friend George Knott left with a $7 sportcoat and I left with a $15 1930’s hat.
Here are the contents of the old post:
File this under local news for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill: Beggars and Choosers in Pittsboro, NC is having a sale this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday where if you find an outfit at the store and wear it out of the store, you get the outfit for free! This is the only vintage store conceivably near the Triangle that has actual swing era vintage clothing and a great section of menswear as well – definitely worth the trip to come get a free outfit!
(WordPress is being uncooperative with my photos and I don’t have time to figure out the problem right now, but I wanted to get this post up in case any locals wanted to go check out the shop, as they are only open this weekend! I’ll work on the pics soon…)
Yesterday was actually the first time I had been to Beggars and Choosers in Pittsboro, NC, even though I have been to Pittsboro many times. People have been telling me to go for years and I can see why – this shop is full of thoughtful and adorable pieces of furniture, antiques, knick-knacks, a second floor full of vintage clothes and accessories at reasonable prices, and a basement full of furniture and clothes at thrift shop prices.
The shop is only open for this coming weekend, after being closed for some time following a robbery at the store. To kick off the store’s limited weekend opening, Beggars and Choosers had a “preview” night on Thursday, April 29 and for $10 admission you get first dibs on the store’s new inventory, hors d’ouvres, and live music while you shop. The store’s owner, Pam Smith, was a delight and danced around the store, meeting and greeting people, new friends and old friends, with a warm welcome.
I hope that Beggars and Choosers will remain open, if not with regular business hours, with these sort of limited open weekends, because there were some really great swing era items and a lovely selection of vintage faux pearl jewelry. My friend Natasha El-Sergany came along and picked up a pearl necklace for her wedding. Notable items included a great selection of men’s footwear, lots of dead stock items for men and women, a pair of black spats, a 1930’s embroidered debutante/wedding gown with matching embroidered shoes, tons of sundresses from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, tons of men’s and women’s hats, at least 6 pairs of 1940’s heels that make me wish my foot was AAAA width, Art Deco era Bulova watches, a wonderful straw cloche, bakelite bangles, lots of pearl jewelry, a lovely brown evening gown that was promptly snatched from the display, some sassy 1940’s dresses with peplums and draping, and the biggest collection of 1950’s rooster ties I’ve ever seen.
If you are local to NC, the store will be open Friday and Saturday (April 30 and May 1) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday, May 2 from 1 to 5 p.m. It’s worth the trip!