Monday, 19 September 2011

What do you Expect from a Vintage Shopping Experience?

I have just come back from a lovely long weekend away in Bournemouth (more of that in another post!) and whilst there I took the time to visit some of the Vintage stores in the Boscombe/Pokesdown area.
One store in particular called 'Per Sempre' is the reason for this post and I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on Vintage Shopping generally.

So Per Sempre.....
The shop looked lovely and inviting from the outside, and in it's favour it had a buzzy atmosphere as well as great displays. Which in a way is what made it SO frustrating, it just didn't deliver on it's potential! It could have been an amazing shopping experience but sadly it wasn't.

Firstly the owners had made the mistake of filling a small floor space with far, far too much stock. I can understand the idea that if you display everything you may have in stock you might sell more. However the clothes rails were packed so tightly with garments you couldn't actually browse through them. It was impossible to look at things properly and potentially damaging to the clothes themselves. I battled with one rail and then just gave up. 
The only person having any success was a girl who had cleverly brought her mother with her. The mother assessed the situation, then lifted and held an armful of garments from the rail which meant her daughter could then look through the what was left with relative ease, mother's do know best it seems!

Secondly the random jumble of clothing was insane. Now personally I would like items to be grouped by era but that's just me I know! However I do think a little organisation doesn't go amiss.
It's just so much easier to have the full length maxis, and evening dresses together on a rail. Day dresses with other day dresses, formal with formal, summer and winter in seperate sections, blouses seperated from dresses and skirts no?

Thirdly the clothes had no sizes on them. Now we all know dress sizes have changed over the years, a size 10 then is not the same as a size 10 now, also not all vintage garments, especially handmade ones, have sizing labels. However it doesn't take much effort to whip a tape measure over a garment and have 'bust approx', 'waist approx', length etc measurements on the price tag. Whilst I was in the store I heard the question 'What size is this?' at least a dozen times (mostly from girl with her mother). The reply to one such question was 'I think it might be a 12, yes I remember looking at that dress when it came in and thinking it might be a 12, or maybe a 10' was hardly an enlightening answer! Again the assistant could have stepped out from behind the cash desk and done a quick measure of the dress.

Finally on to the handbags, it was almost there but sadly not.
They were cleverly displayed in, and on old suitcases.I stepped forward for a happy rummage, but it was not to be. The prices were a little high it's true, but if the item was right that wouldn't have mattered. What I was most disappointed about was the lack of attention to detail. If I'm going to pay over £30 for a vintage bag I don't expect it to be full of grit and fluff and general detritus from it's previous owner, nor should it be thick with dust and dirt on the outside. Maybe from a charity/thirft shop, but not from a vintage store. It wouldn't have taken much effort to spruce up the bag to make it worth it's £30 tag, at the very least brush it out and give it a quick wipe over!

So am I alone in my above gripes? What do you expect from a shopping experience? Would the above have put you off? What surprised me was that this was a shop in a row of other vintage and antique shops. With competition on the doorstep would you not have made a little more effort?


  1. In the vintage clothes shops I've been to, the clothes are usually grouped according to item and are often labelled with an info tag bearing the garment's age and price. Also, the clothes have been spaced out so that you can easily get them out without having the battle of the coat hangers! Also, even though the clothes are second-hand, I would expect them to have been aired or cleaned if possible, after all you're paying 'vintage' prices not 'charity shop' (well they used to be cheap!) prices.

    Hopefully, your next vintage shopping experience will be better!

  2. It sounds exactly like the period clothing shop that's been in our town since I was a teenager. I swear she's still got the same stock I sold her twenty-five years ago.
    I'm not really bothered about the stuff being arranged in eras as I actually enjoy fighting through the 1940s tea dresses and finding the odd psychedelic gem. x

  3. I think it would just be lovely to be able to browse the racks with ease. Having stuff put into groups might make it easier to find stuff you like. But mostly of all labelling stuff with the size has got to be essential

  4. The size labelling is the most important thing to me. If I am going to heave my way through a rack of clothes - I want to be able to reach for a tag that tells me SOMETHING tangiable about the garment before I haul it from the rail.

  5. I'm not bothered about sizing labels as most of the places I've shopped over the years never had then either, I've always just held it up to me to see if it 'might' fit! I also always have a tape measure in my bag when I vintage shop, years of doing so and not knowing if something will fit, just a tip there!

    However being able to see through the stock seems like a basic necessity if they hope to sell anything. I do go to places that are tightly packed but never so much so that you can't view the clothes!

    And I agree on the bags, making sure they are emptied of stuff, and a occasional dust over doesn't take too much effort does it.

    No wonder you were disappointed.

  6. What a shame! Sounds like the shop has potential, hopefully someone will say something to the owner and the penny will drop. I don't mind having a good old dig through all the mish-mash but I absolutely HATE overloaded racks. There's no sense to ramming everything in as few have the patience to go through the entire stock and walk out with a dislocated shoulder.

  7. I'm with you: I pay boot sale prices at a bootsale and mend/clean myself. A vintage shop, with prices, is a place I expect to pay more because the work's been done for me.

    My bugbear is cleaning/detritus. I once saw on ebay a shop 'telling' customers (who it seemed to assume knew nothing of vintage) in RUDE CAPITALS that they did not clean vintage clothes because vintage traders don't - if you object, you don't know. They aren't trading anymore. Funny that.