Review and Photos by Z.G. Burnett
SOUTHBRIDGE, MASS. – Anticipation was high at Southbridge’s La Salle Reception Center, where the Threadbare Show has installed its booths for the past season. As with the May and July shows, each vendor brought their best to open Brimfield week and the fall season during Labor Day weekend on September 4. It was almost as though customers could sense this careful preparation, as the excited conversations from the line wrapping around the building carried through the parking lot. According to the show’s organizers, this show’s attendance outshined their numbers in May, formerly the best so far, by 20 percent.
Although a young show in its second year, Threadbare already has its dependable regulars that keep coming back in search of the next great piece. Many are other dealers who make the Brimfield circuit two to three times a year, some from as far away as Japan where American vintage is in particularly high demand. Others are collectors whose closets that could fill multiple Threadbare booths, or brand representatives searching for garments to pattern and reproduce. Still more were younger visitors, driven by nostalgia for styles from a past they do not remember and hoping their sustainable shopping will help them secure a better future.
Early buyers rushed in at the 9 am bell, funneling into the downstairs space or sprinting up the center’s grand staircase to the ballroom. There were many familiar faces among the dealers with some newcomers, and a couple of canine companions that charmed buyers and sellers alike. Dealers such as Olden Yoon, Sweet Dahlia Vintage and Scarlet Lady Antiques had been with the show since the beginning. Others were setting up for the first time, many who came to Threadbare under their own steam after showing elsewhere, or with the recommendation of their friends who have had a booth there before.
Matt Bernhardt of Bern Pit was just such a new seller, who had helped his friend Frank Fina of Save The Rags at a previous show and set up right next to his booth downstairs. Although both are from Buffalo, N.Y., their vintage causal wear varied and made a great presentation on both sides of the walkway. “I thought, ‘It looks like a lot of fun,’” Bernhardt said about the experience; he was already selling well after opening. The booth was in a spot that had been historically tricky for dealers, but Bernhardt worked around the 8-by-8-foot space’s fireplace, making a cozy hearth-like environment and arranging his wares to match the existing décor.
Returning to Threadbare for its second show, Rock n’ Pop Vintage from Huntingdon Valley, Penn., offered clothing and textiles from the late Nineteenth Century to the mid-Twentieth Century. Rock n’ Pop is also a Star Seller on Etsy, owned and operated by Izzy Walls. Threadbare has been the shop’s only in-person show so far. Walls is a sophomore in high school, which somewhat constricts her dealing schedule. We look forward to following her career in vintage fashion.
The party continued upstairs with shoppers tearing through booths, literally emptying racks and trying on clothing in the aisles. Vendors matched their energy and assisted with giving measurements, prices and more stock secreted away in totes and boxes under blankets and tables. As dealers all have their specific foci, early buyers often have their own criteria for purchasing.
Blomma Vintage of Raleigh, N.C., is a revival of Pintucks & Petticoats, headed by Chrissy Blomma. Operating for around 20 years, Blomma took a break from dealing and returned just last November, selling online and at a local market in Raleigh. This was her first time selling at Threadbare and, after some car trouble, was overwhelmed with how fellow dealers were willing to help her set up and unload her stock. Following this eventful return, Blomma was having a good morning selling and said, “I’m happy to be in this community.”
Across the aisle was Fox & Fawn, which was also new to the show. Marissa Johnson founded the shop in 2007 and now has two locations in Brooklyn: Greenpoint and Bushwick. Johnson was happy with the amount of stock that had already gone, including a wicker pig handbag that we were lucky enough to photograph before it sold. “[The buyer] got a good deal,” she said.
Cathy McLaurin of Labor and Glean (New Hampshire) is an artist as well as a vintage dealer, and often sources clothing that needs some repair. This kind of repurposing and mending has seen a revival in recent years, celebrating the construction of antique and vintage clothing and giving the garments new life. Labor and Glean’s showcase piece was an early Twentieth Century duster jacket expertly patched with blue and white ticking stripe fabric. “I love the challenge of finding wretched things and making them wearable again,” McLaurin said. Her next challenge: an oil-stained L.L. Bean tote bag with a shredded bottom, probably used for carrying tools.
“No complaints here,” was heard frequently from dealers after the opening, including Amalgamated Costume and Design. Amalgamated is “the Washington DC area’s premiere vintage and costume resource,” and its half-empty racks following the rush strongly supported that claim. Amalgamated has an entire page of film and television credits on their website, listing productions that have used their inventory. The shop’s inventory for Threadbare was bright and wearable, with many unique pieces including a work shirt made from hominy grit sacks. The colorful graphics printed on the material made for a lively print.
“We’re doing shockingly well,” said Maxwell Corbett of The Quince and Quail who, along with his partner Anthony Adamsky, drove down from Ashland, N.H., the day before and promptly turned their booth into a winter wonderland in anticipation of the coming season. Ski jackets were hung upon scrubbed pine doors and a rack of Nordic sweaters were accented with evergreen boughs, even an antique sap bucket perched on the pipes that held up their booth. Corbett emphatically indicated the knee-high pile of camp blankets that sold earlier in the morning, waiting to be loaded up while their new owners continued shopping.
Held Vintage & Antiques of Salem, Mass., returned to Threadbare for the second time under owner Marie’s supervision, who arranged her booth like a comfortable campsite closet complete with quilts and a perfect pair of 1950s fur-lined boots that sold by noon. Held shows frequently at the Salem Flea during the summer and had to decide between Threadbare and another market during the busy season. Luckily for us, she chose the former, and was having a healthy day of sales before moving onto the Heart-O-The-Mart at Brimfield later in the week.
The next Threadbare Show will take place on May 8. Visit www.threadbareshow.com for additional information.
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