We Won! Sort Of…

9 Oct

We recently found out that we won the FW Weekly’s Critic Choice Award for Best Place to buy Cheap Threads. While we are honored to receive any “Best Of” award, I can’t say that this is the “Best Of” category that we were striving for the most. Best Jewelry, Best Vintage, Best Cowboy Boots, bring it on, we are totally ecstatic. But when your award comes with a caveat, it doesn’t quite feel as genuine or as exciting. The caveat, it appears for this award, is our clearance rack. As worded in the copy, “This is a vintage dress shop that’s only cheap by comparison—unless there’s a rack of sale outfits out front.” Cheap by comparison to whom, we are not sure. In comparison to ourselves? To our non-clearance priced merchandise? In comparison to any other non-vintage boutique? If that’s the case, I beg you to tell me where you can find a hand beaded wool sweater for $60 or a Neiman Marcus fur collar cashmere coat for $150.

1960s beaded wool sweaters

Cashmere coat with fur collar

Yes, the items we sell have been worn before. But they have also stood the test of time and are still around after 40+ years. I can’t say that will be the case with the “trashion” being procured today at places like Forever 21 and Old Navy. If you want “Cheap Threads”, go there because in 2 years, they will be just that, threads.

For far too many people, “vintage” is the same as “thrift”. It is cheap, possibly stained or ripped, and you have to spend hours digging through piles of not so great items to find that diamond in the coal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dig. But the intent of Bess & Evie’s is to do all that work FOR our customers so you are presented with only precious stones, no coal. Anyone who knows me knows I am one of the most frugal shoppers ever. I NEVER pay full retail price for clothing or shoes from major retailers because I know how much the markup is. Knowing that, I am very conscientious about how I price items in the store so that my customers feel like they are getting a fair deal. I have to make money to survive just as much as the next person, but my integrity as a fairly priced retailer is far more important. Maybe that’s not the smartest business practice but it’s the truth.

Picking vintage at a rag house

As far as the clearance rack goes, yes, every once in a while I make a bad buy, and something I loved when I bought it is still sitting around 6 months later. Or a vendor gave me some coal mixed in with some gems, and when they don’t live up to my standards, out they go. When that happens, those items end up on the infamous clearance rack. But I still hope that someone finds that great 80s beaded cocktail dress for $5 and are thrilled that they found the deal of the year, just like someone else finding that fabulous leather trench for $75 and thinks they found the deal of the year.

The infamous clearance rack

At the end of the day, the adage “there’s no such thing as bad press” still is true. I had a customer come in just today who read about us in the FW Weekly and had no idea there was a vintage store even in Fort Worth. So, for that I am thankful. I guess even back-handed compliments can pay off in the long run.  But I hope that people will look beyond the clearance rack to see all of the carefully selected items in the store and find that treasure that’s been waiting for them.

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