Archive for August, 2010

A Retail Bildungsröman, or Help! The Cash Register Has a Mind of Its Own

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts is the eighth wonder of the civilized world IMO. It serves up a vibrant mix of international cuisine (Thai, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Korean fusion, Spanish, Italian, and Guatemalan) and a smorgasbord of independent (as in non-franchised, off-the-beaten track, anything-but-big-box) businesses—ethnic groceries, funky book- and gift shops, mom-and-pop beauty/nail salons and five-and-dimes, and (up a short side street) a semi-art movie theatre.

College kids, suburban visitors, and the multi-national local population alike stroll the cobblestone streets in search of everything from fabulous homemade ice cream, a wig at the costume shop, or halal groceries to the latest anime collectible or a great pedicure. All this, plus free parking on the street and in municipal lots.

Until last Wednesday, however, Moody Street didn’t have a vintage clothing store.

I’d noted this serious defect over 10 years ago without dreaming I’d someday be the one to correct it. But then early this spring, as I sat in the car alongside New Mother India while my husband went in to fetch our takeout dinner, I realized there were a handful of properties available for lease on the block (first time in a blue moon, courtesy of the economic pinch). I thought briefly of my storage units, exploding with stock, and of my wonderful daughter’s current availability (not to mention her knack for really rocking a vintage dress). And, as they say, the course of history did an about-face so fast it burned rubber.

Fast forward five months, and what will you find sandwiched between the optometrist and hair salon across from the tapas joint? Why Vintage, of course:

I had a blast assembling a shop out of yardsale and used store fixturing finds, with a soupcón of Home Depot, Ikea, and mid-century furniture from my childhood home thrown in. The color scheme (blue walls and white “pine” floor) was blithely plagiarized from my favorite room at home, and in addition to the semi-permanent fitting rooms and partition executed to spec by a very talented contractor, additional gobs of labor were supplied by my dear, dear husband.

I’m still working on getting a sign out front (my lease has strict and tricky-to-execute signage requirements), and even with a cheatsheet I seem to end up voiding half of the cash register ring-ups I do. But not to worry— Vintage has arrived!

Be sure to drop by and check out the (almost) finished product for yourself, and in the meantime, here are some before and after pics for your delectation:

The store mascot…

The glitz and chotchke cases…

And, last but not least, a jumbo puzzle from Ikea…