Tag Archives: thrifting

Did You Miss Us???

6 Jun

Yes, we are still alive over here in Vintageland. Forgive us for the extreme lapse in postings. We initially blamed Lindsay Lohan*,

Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor

but then that excuse got to be too old and then Christmas came and Kalen went to NYC and had loads of great material to write about, but then it was FWSSR time (Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo) here in the Fort and we were selling boots as fast as our little stuffing, polishing, pulling on and off hands could handle. Then it was kinda slow and we really didn’t have anything compelling to write about, and we kinda thought you had given up on us ever writing anything interesting or witty or fashionable again so we just let it go.

So, I’m sitting here inhaling nibbling on a J. Rae’s sugar cookie, aka crack with glittery frosting, and my afternoon cuppa tea feeling inspired once again to write. I’ll start with sharing my adventures in NYC in January. I went by myself, which can be a refreshing thing to do every once in a while.
A. You don’t have to share the hotel bathroom with anyone
B. No one rolls their eyes at you when you want to walk the 20 blocks back to the hotel
C. Spending 6 hours at the Flea Market bothers no one except the vendors that I continue to haggle with until I get the price I want
D. I don’t have to stop at every H&M looking for “that skirt” in my size
E. Avoiding travelling in large groups where someone is inevitably walking around with their jaw dropped at the sights and sounds of Times Square makes it a lot easier to get around and might actually get you mistaken for a local (oh yeah, I was asked for directions. Sweet!)

The Garage Antique Flea Market

The Garage Antique Flea Market

I did spend 6 hours at The Garage Antique Flea Market in Chelsea and it was like walking in to the best episode of Hoarders ever; minus the dead animals in the freezer and non-working plumbing. The flea market is housed in an old parking garage (2 levels!!) which is great because it is open EVERY WEEKEND YEAR ROUND! Vintage clothing (obviously), jewelry, furs, African art, housewares, handbags, furs, furniture, and luggage; everything you can imagine is here. And yes, if you are EVER in the market for a vintage fur, those dead, rich, NYC society ladies had closets full of them and you can get your hands on just about anything for a steal. Sadly, I did not come home with a new furry friend, but did find some amazing jewelry and a suede poncho. Most definitely a successful trip, I can’t wait to go back!

This is just ONE level!

This is just ONE level!

One of the best vintage shops in NYC

One of the best vintage shops in NYC

Copper Garden Statue

Copper Garden Statue

Scary Baby Doll

Scary Baby Doll

Another thing that surprised me on this trip was how friendly everyone was. An older gentleman at the flea market overheard me tell a dealer that I was from Fort Worth and he immediately told me that he also was from The Fort. He went to the same high school that my daughters attend and although we didn’t know anyone in common, it seemed he was happy to have a bit of Texas brought in to his life that day. Or maybe he was just flirting, who knows. Later that day, as I was waiting to cross the street, a group of cool, hipster dudes commented on my coat. Why yes, it IS vintage, 1970s Bill Blass! What’s that? Oh, thanks, it’s just something I threw on. I am wearing that coat every damn day. You New Yorkers with your puffy down coats got nothin’ on this Texas girl stylin’ in vintage. Seriously, it’s not even that cold.

Need a fur??

Need a fur??

Keeper of the furs, on his own Persian Lamb blanket, of course!

Keeper of the furs, on his own Persian Lamb blanket, of course!

If you can't afford the WHOLE fur...

If you can’t afford the WHOLE fur…

So, we promise, we are back. There’s a lot of Mad Men to catch up on and those always fun awards show red carpets. If there’s anything you’re curious about or would like us to write about, please let us know! We missed y’all!!!

For more info on NYC Flea Markets, go to http://www.hellskitchenfleamarket.com/home/

*Lindsay Lohan starred in the TV Movie Dick & Liz about the life of Elizabeth Taylor back in December. Our post was going to be about the fabulous outfits in the movie and how they made it almost worth suffering through the horrendous “acting”. Alas, after trolling the internet for 2 days looking for images of such fabulous outfits, we gave up and hence our 5 month long blogging sabbatical.

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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.

Junkin’ in Houston

10 Jul

While I still count myself a New Yorker, I spent most of my adolescent life in Houston. First living in southwest Houston, and then north Houston, and now I’m pretty sure I’ve lived in just about every part of this large, thriving city. People always ask where you are from, and once you tell them Houston, they want to know what part. There are about a thousand parts, and a dozen new, hopping neighborhoods popping up every few months. The trendy parts are ever changing and adapting to the hipsters that want to be where all the action is. My mom, aka the original-hipster as I have coined her, swears she was cool before cool was cool. She has always been a “thrifter”, and says she used to go “junkin”, as her friends called it, way before it was cool to do it. One of my girlfriends had mentioned an amazing resale/vintage shop in Houston, in one of those trendy parts of town, of which I don’t remember the name. I decided last Friday that I needed a girl day. Too many days at home, in the summer, with MY child, lets just say it wears on you. I made a few calls, mom promised to babysit, and the day was planned. We were going “junkin”, just us girls.

For some reason, this shop closes at 2pm on Saturdays. Coined the “best resale experience in Houston”, The Guild Shop may be the largest store of “junk” that I’ve seen in a LONG time. And as big as it was, filled to brim with patrons as well. Apparently, this is the Saturday shopping hot-spot. My friend being the expert that she is, took me on a tour of the store before we found a section to begin in. The store is broken up into housewares, a room full of dishes, bowls, mugs, etc, a smaller room of just silver and brass, a large room full of large furniture, the showroom has clothing, bags, and a jewelry section, for which you need to take a number and it closes before the store closes itself. Now, being the daughter of a “professional thrifter”, I’ve been dragged to a lot of thrift/resale stores. This one topped them all. Of all the resale stores I’ve experienced, not including ones that carry strictly clothing, this was the most organized and thought out, well planned resale store I’d ever seen. They were a well-oiled machine. There must’ve been 50 people working in this store for the five hours it was open. I was thoroughly impressed, and I’m rarely impressed by much these days. The phrase, “customer service is dead in this country,” must come out of my mouth several times a week. But these people…These people knew what they were doing.

So not only was I impressed with the lay-out, the staff, the organization, but also the price points. Each tag has a starting price on it with the date it was brought in. A month from that date the price goes down a certain percentage, something like 20-25%. It may vary per type of product. Two weeks from that date, the price goes down again. Two weeks from the above date, the price goes down to its lowest price point. For most products this is $1, unless it’s something like furniture or other big ticket items. From what my partner-in-crime has experienced, it never usually makes it to its last and lowest price point. This place is serious business. If you see it and you like it, you better get it before the person walking in behind you does. This stuff is priced to sell and does. I found a dresser that would be perfect for us to take home refinish and repaint and add to our baby room. My husband comes home this week. Hopefully it’ll still be there when I get a chance to go back. Fingers crossed!

 

 

Needless to say, The Guild Shop will be a frequented destination in the years to come. What did I come home with you ask? Well, let me brag here: an shiny orange bowl, two Fire King mugs that were a set of four that I split with my friend, and a set of six New York theme dinner plates by Homer Laughlin. Total spent: $34. A mere drop in the bucket for the amazing finds and great quality items.

The next place we wanted to stop was Bluebird Circle. Bluebird Circle is a charitable organization, started in 1923, helping womens organizations and childrens charities, they are one that has left there mark on this city for many years. My mom remembered visiting their resale store as soon as I mentioned it. Unfortunately they also closed at 2pm and we were unable to make it this time. Because of its reputation, I know we’ll be back to visit soon.

If there is one thing Houstonians take seriously, it’s their resale shopping. I’ve never been to a city that has more resale shops than Starbucks, and I think that says a lot. I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on all the great spots to hit up, and all the stores that take the word “vintage” to mean “expensive”. What’s the point of green-shopping if you can’t afford it?

Kalen’s Guide to Thrifting

2 Jul


A few months ago, one of our favorite customers, Margaux, asked me if I would be interested in going Thrifting/Vintaging (yes, those are real verbs!) with her as research for her blog. We think Margaux has one of the most unique styles around and I was thrilled to say yes! We decided to go exploring in Dallas since I never get out much and it was a good excuse to go East. We both did some research on places to go, both thrift stores and vintage stores and we headed out. We didn’t have much luck on our first two stops as they were both closed at the time. One place we really need to make time to go back to was Voodoo Chile. Described by one reviewer on Yelp as being a “…very special opium den themed episode of Hoarders”, this thrift/antique/junk store is only open from 7pm to midnight. Its owner, Jimi Hendrix, (swear), dresses as his namesake and “lurks” around the store with a “fishbowl glass of red wine”. This definitely sounds like our kind of place and worthy of a trip back to Greenville for Bluefish Sushi and Voodoo Chile.


Anyway, our first real stop was at Buffalo Exchange. Advertised as being a mixture of modern resale and vintage, we had to actually dig to find much vintage. We did end up with a sweet yellow lace 60s prom dress and a 70’s Lilly Pulitzer poly tunic. The tunic, we noticed when we got back to the store, had the points of the collar CUT OFF (!!!) no doubt to make it less 70s looking. Thus, bringing us to Rule #1 in vintaging/thrifting; look over everything VERY carefully, and then have someone else look over it again. People do weird things to their clothes, and age does even weirder things to clothes. We have made many a buying blunder by not looking over things closely enough and it’s heartbreaking.
Margaux found some killer cobalt blue rhinestone encrusted platform sandals that she carried around the store for a while but then decided against. If anyone could rock these shoes, it would be her, no doubt with some sweet Hello Kitty ankle socks.


Next stop was Lulu B’s Antique Mall in Deep Ellum. Whereas most antique malls have only a smattering of vintage clothing, the entire upstairs at Lulu B’s is full of vintage. We really didn’t know where to start, kinda like walking in to a wine tasting with 10 bottles lined up in front of you. Margaux is searching for items for her new apartment, so in addition to vintage clothing, we were on the hunt for fun, eclectic things for her. Our first find, something everything needs, was a blowfish on a stand. Sadly, she passed on that, but opted for painted busts of Diana and Adonis. So versatile, we thought; jewelry holder, hat holder, perpetual party guests so she never has to drink alone. I once picked at a house where the owner collected dolls. There were dolls on the sofas, dolls at the breakfast bar, dolls on the bed, and 2 giant teddy bears (like 6 feet tall giant) seated at the head and foot of the dining room table. It was a little creepy, hopefully Margaux will be satisfied with Diana and Adonis and not feel the need to go all William Randolph Hearst with the Roman statuary.


Anyway, we ventured upstairs and hit the jackpot with a 75% off section. Now, Rule #2 of vintaging/thrifting: Just because it is a cheap price, doesn’t make it a good deal. I have learned that lesson as a buyer for the store and with my own personal wardobe. Even if it’s a $1, if it won’t sell, it’s not a good buy. Personally, if you spend $5 on something you’ll never wear, it’s worthless. And those $5 worthless purchases add up to big money that Wendy could spend on a really great bag! Those of you who shop our store know that I’m very picky about what I buy. It was hard at the beginning to not buy every vintage item I saw while thrifting simply because it WAS vintage and I was afraid of what would happen to it if I didn’t buy it. I know now that I’m not in the business of rescuing vintage from the throes of thrift stores and I have the strength (most of the time) to walk away if it isn’t right. Your wardrobe deserves the same respect. It’s OK to walk away from the $5 Tshirt bin.
I did walk away from the $5 Tshirt rack and found some great dresses for the store. I tend to look more for cocktail dresses when I come across these sales just because those are the items that can give you the biggest bang for your buck. And vintage cocktail dresses are just one of those things that if you are me, I can always sell; and if you are you, you will eventually have a need for. Rule #3 of vintaging/thrifting: If it passes Rule #1 (intense inspection) and Rule #2 (a good deal) and it fits you like a glove, BUY IT. I don’t care if you don’t know where you are going to wear it to, you will, someday. And trust me, it saves you the stress of going in to a store at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon frantically trying to find a dress to wear to a wedding the next day. Every girl should have at least one (or eight) “go to” dress for each season that you love and fits you impeccably. Buying when you find the perfect dress is way better than being forced in to buying something that you don’t love for three times the price because you ran out of time.
After a quick lunch at La Duni (because sadly we have to get our Latin food fix in Dallas), we ended our day at Genesis Thrift. No such luck there, so we said goodbye to Margaux and Dallas and headed back to the Fort. It was a great day and loads of fun to shop with someone with such great style. Make sure you check out Margaux’s blog at http://thegirlwhoworeeverything.blogspot.com/.

Don’t Tell Mom…I may be a Hipster.

9 Apr

My best friend called me a Hipster a few weeks ago. It has obviously had a resounding affect on me, as I’m blogging about it weeks later. Her definition of a Hipster was someone who didn’t like something every one else liked. She said it was because I shop at resale, vintage, and thrift stores. I frequent flea markets, and quite recently Canton, which I’m currently obsessed over now. Thank you East Texas. And because I liked Adele WAY before anyone else did, and now that the whole world is Adele obsessed, I couldn’t care less. So this got me thinking…what is a Hipster, really? If I went by my best friend’s definition, and I try not most days, I’d have to say with shame that I am a Hipster. But before dive into self loathing and start wearing a fanny pack to be “ironic” let me research this term “Hipster” just a little more.

If Aline’s definition of Hipster is correct, then my mother might’ve been the first one. Dare I say I’ve turned into my mother…? Nope, I will not admit this as of yet. According to my good friend, Google, a Hipster is someone who follows the latest trends and fashions. Well, that makes almost every girl in the free world one then. However, according to my distant cousin, Urban Dictionary:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie- rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

Oh dear God, it is not looking good for me right now, and I know many of you are starting to feel the same. Or at least I hope you are. However I have to say, perhaps this all has to do with the way I was raised. I thought that it was important to have independent thought, not go-with-the-flow, and appreciate intelligence and creativity. I certain appreciate intelligence in my friends, otherwise, the conversation is quite dull. Urban Dictionary goes on to say that while “Hipsterism is really a state of mind, it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight fitting jeans, old school sneakers…” From this I have to conclude that while Hipsters do not like to look like every one else, they all dress alike…? The article later concludes that they all dress in a fashion depicted in that of Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads. They also reject the stereotypical male/female archetypes that society portrays as “good-looking”. And while stores like Old Navy, The Gap, and American Eagle now carry “worn-style” jeans, they are simply following a path that Hipsters have carved out before them from wearing thrift store clothing that is worn that way, because it was worn that way.

I have to wonder now, what will the Hipsters of tomorrow be wearing, since everyone is going to start wearing what Hipsters wear? Are the outfits going to become more and more outrageous as time goes on, simply to avoid finding a look-alike crossing their path? As a woman, there is truly nothing worse in this world, or at least to me, as walking down the street to my favorite restaurant, glowing about how awesome I look in my new ensemble and coming upon another girl wearing the same thing. Thank you Forever 21 for making this happen more often than not. Even as most recently we’ve had girls come in the store looking for vintage prom dresses. After all, it would be the end all be all if a girl showed up to your prom in YOUR dress.

So it looks like the world is going the way of the Hipster after all. I don’t think this is such a bad thing. I may have to say that as I may unwillingly admit I do fall under this category sometimes. When I am not taking my kid to school early in the morning, not going grocery shopping, and not going to or from the gym, I tend to dress myself according to my own standards that may not match up with everyone elses’. A girl likes to look her best, and not like someone else’s best. Good luck to all you fellow Hipsters out there! I’m sorry to bring such news to you on this rainy Monday. Take pride in who you are, and please don’t forget to appreciate intelligence, Hipster or not!