The Clothing Warehouse has been in operation for nearly 5 years in Five Points. But for new owner, Jeannie Jones, buying the vintage clothing store started a new life chapter back in February 2011. After nearly 30 years in the insurance industry, Ms. Jones said that she was ready for “a new adventure” and “to explore other opportunities” and wanted to build on her prior business, retail and bookkeeping experience. She liked the idea of a boutique clothing shop with the added twist of being a business with “a green approach” that focuses on recycling fashion rather than throwing out clothing and accessories. Different fashion designs continue to cycle through the decades, with some customers trying to capture a retro look while others try to be fashion forward, tweaking an old school design with a contemporary flair.
Like any new business owner, she made some immediate changes to the store, such as increasing the shop hours, freshening up clothing presentations, creating special sales and highlighting hot fashion items in weekly window displays. She noted that “we have gotten a lot of compliments on our store windows,” including from local merchants. A broader array of new stock was added such as fun sunglasses, fashion wigs and costume jewelry. Ms. Jones is even toying with the idea of changing the shop’s name once her license on its existing franchise name expires in February 2012, so watch her Facebook page for updates. Kyla, the store’s resident pampered West Highland Terrier, is sure to have a say in any final name change in this pet-friendly store.
This busy entrepreneur and her staff are “in” to vintage wear and enjoy helping customers have a “fun, enjoyable experience” while looking for that perfect outfit to suit their personal style or upcoming social gathering. One of the main challenges has been finding what she needed for her eclectic customer base. “It takes a little while to get a feel for what people want,” said Ms. Jones. “Our clientele is really a mixture.” About half of her customers are local young people looking for vintage fashion while the other half are those seeking out specific period clothing for a special event. Ms. Jones also notes that her shop’s fashions are very popular with those involved in vintage weddings seeking 1940s wraps or 1950s pill box hats, or parties set in a certain period, like 1970s/80s disco dresses. From time to time, even members of local theater troupes will check out her inventory.
The proud owner advises that her store is not a consignment shop as nearly all stock is purchased from trusted vendors. On a rare occasion, she’ll check out estate sales if the fashion items are in demand. Some clothing “may absolutely be gorgeous, breathtaking,” but she won’t buy it if that style is not currently surging in the fickle fashion world. One hot trend is for bell bottoms–”and I was part of the bell-bottom generation,” she confides, “I’ve had multiple requests for them. They are hard to come by.” Another major fad is girl’s cowboy boots with short shorts and short pencil skirts, which are flying off the shelves.
A member of the Five Points Merchants Association, she was drawn to this area’s “small community feel,” reminiscent of the close-knit beach neighborhood where she lives. Her shop regularly participates in First Fridays in Five Points where local stores stay open late and greet customers with live music, refreshments and special sales on this pedestrian-friendly street. She especially enjoyed a previous month’s chocolate theme with chocolate wine and chocolate-covered strawberries and her store offered free 1940s fashion and make-up makeovers for customers. The store will have extended holiday hours: Mon. –Thurs.-10:00-6:00, Fri.-10:30-7:30, Sun.- 12:00-5:00 in December. Check Facebook for holiday sales and other updates or stop by the shop at 1010 Park Street, 904-356-5003, to step back to the future.
–Bridges DelPonte, http://www.bridgesdelponte.com