Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Runaround Sue Vintage Boutique

Kelly Rae Smith tells us how Runaround Sue Vintage Boutique came to be:

It took me years to decide that I would make my dream business a reality. 

I remember conversations with friends from as far back as 2003 when I spoke of owning a vintage clothing business. I knew every detail of how I would run it from where to source products (my hometown) to how to package them (wrapped in tissue paper, vintage ribbons and fabric) to the little extras, like giving customers a compilation CD full of vintage songs. I also spoke of somehow creatively integrating local artists and businesses. I just didn’t know where ‘local’ would be, for I left home (South Carolina) for Scotland in 2004 and didn’t come back until last year. 

In Scotland, my passion for all things old only grew. I danced at every retro club night in Edinburgh, became a northern soul connoisseur, and honed my vintage knowledge with not only a full-fledged collection, but also through a job I got at local vintage institution, Armstrong’s. I was one of their Ebay girls and learned all the dynamics of and tricks to selling vintage online. 

A little over a year ago, I had barely been home long enough to have a couple of home-cooked, southern meals when I learned of several different people who had or wanted to open up a vintage shop. I got a little angry, and realized I was only jealous. I decided there was no point in being bitter about something I was fully equipped to do on my own. So I did it. 

Instead of wallowing in unemployment depression, I started up Runaround Sue Vintage Boutique on Etsy and treated it like a full-time job, because at the time, it was. When I had at least 60 items listed, many derived from my own collection, I went public with a Facebook and Twitter page. I guess that’s when it felt official! Both of these social networks have been instrumental in getting the word out. So was Etsy. Instead of creating my own website, I chose to do work through Etsy since it’s like a social network in its own right. 

Since my favorite thing about vintage clothing is the many stories a dress or a pair of shoes can tell, I think it’s important to indicate any known stories in the listing, as well as let everyone know where an item is going in order to make more memories, and more stories. 

One of my favorite stories lies in an item that holds so many memories for me, let alone the ones it must have made back in the 60s. It’s a pink, orange and white psychedelic top with sheer, pink sleeves. Not only is this the very first of many vintage threads that I would buy at Armstrong’s (the place I would work at five years later), it is also the shirt I wore to my very first of many nights of dancing at The GO-GO club night in Edinburgh. As nonsensical as it sounds that I would sell this, I believe, as I presume the previous owners did, that these memories will stay with me long after the shirt is not.

I hope there are people out there somewhere dancing to the tune of Runaround Sue by Dion & the Belmonts, clad in their Runaround Sue Vintage attire, creating their own stories to tell of that garment and making their own dreams come true, too.

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