ANN ARBOR – The Getup Vintage is Ann Arbor's oldest vintage clothing shop, and it just celebrated its 14th anniversary.
Since it launched at 215 S. State St., two other vintage clothing stores, Dear Golden and Muse Atelier, have opened downtown. But instead of seeing them as competition, Getup owners Kaylan Mitchell and Lindsey Leyland say other stores make for a more vibrant vintage landscape.
"We don’t view the other vintage stores or clothing stores as competition," said Mitchell. "The more the merrier. You can’t have too many vintage retailers because everybody’s got different things that they focus on."
"The thing about vintage is everything in here is one of a kind," said Leyland. "Each one of us does something different. Dear Golden specifies in Victorian through the 1950s. We do 1950s to the '90s, and then Muse Altier is pinup, really good reproduction stuff. She’s very Old Hollywood. And us being so close to the college campus, it’s really important for us to appeal to that crowd. We focus a lot on casual everyday type of wear. We don’t do a lot of formal wear, whereas, Dear Golden, you could buy your wedding dress there."
Leyland and Mitchell took over the store three years ago after working at the shop as employees. The original owner, Kelly McLeod, was ready to part with the venture, but on one condition.
"She was, like, ‘If you girls want to take this over, I wouldn’t sell it to anyone else. You two have to do it,'" said Mitchell. "And it wasn’t either one of us, it was that we had to do it together. And it worked out really well."
"It was very serendipitous," said Leyland. "Kelly is one of the nicest, coolest ladies. We still keep in contact with her. We love her so much."
How it works
The store is buy-sell-trade. Twice a week, Mitchell and Leyland buy items in-store, and the rest of the time, they make appointments for in-home consultations.
"It’s a lot of us going to your house and digging through your attic, your basement, your barn, your garage -- wherever you tell us the stuff is, that’s where we’re going to look," said Leyland. "We care so much about vintage clothing that you would have to want to do that."
Another aspect of being in the business of secondhand clothing business is constant laundry.
"You have to want to do laundry like, 10 times a day to be able to get it out to the floor," said Mitchell. "There’s tons of laundry, and Lindsey is the queen of laundry!"
"If I can’t wash it, then I don’t want it," said Leyland. "There are a lot of materials from the '20s and '30s that just disintegrate. We love the '70s because polyester is indestructible. We clean everything. We mend everything. Everything has gone through a process before it even makes it through the floor."
The owners say students, as well as young professionals and professors, make up a good portion of their customers. People from out of town who are visiting students also love to discover The Getup Vintage.
"You have a lot of people visiting," said Leyland. "(Los Angeles) moms love this place because it’s a fraction of a price of anything you would find in LA. We love when those types of ladies roll through. They’re really fun."
Another piece of their work is a commitment to the environment. The Getup Vintage uses green sources for 100% of its shop's energy and is a member of DTE Energy's MIGreenPower program.
"All of our energy is solar power, so we are off the grid," said Leyland. "Just the recycling aspect of buying secondhand clothing (is significant) -- the amount of textile waste that you save. Promoting this lifestyle, where not everything in your closet has to be new, is really important to us. Be more aware of where your things come from.
"I even make my own laundry detergent. We’re down to 27 cents a load. We're saving so much product waste. We really try to live a very low-waste (lifestyle) in this store. And that’s something we’re really proud of."
Aside from the issue of textile waste, Leyland said the quality of materials and the fact that vintage clothes were made in the United States also separate them from newer, fast-fashion pieces.
"If you feel the materials of a vintage garment versus something that’s at a Forever 21, it’s insane. A T-shirt at Forever 21 could disintegrate in a minute, but a nice cotton dress from the 1950s is beautifully made. It’s what you would buy couture now for thousands of dollars."
Ann Arbor's retail reality
Leyland and Mitchell want to see more clothing stores pop up in Ann Arbor. They said that when American Apparel closed on Liberty Street a few years ago, they saw the area become less retail focused.
"The more retail that can stay in downtown, the more shoppable downtown is," said Leyland. "If us and Urban Outfitters are the last two places on the street, (that's not enough). Having American Apparel was so nice because tons of people came down here to shop."
"Ann Arbor should be a retail destination," said Leyland. "You should be able to come here and at least pick 10 cool spots that you want to go to and there’s maybe five. Aside from Treasure Mart, which is one of my favorite places in downtown Ann Arbor, you have Dear Golden, Muse. There’s Today Clothing, but that’s strictly for men, Sam’s, and that’s it. It’s just not a lot."
Mitchell said the emergence of more independently owned stores would be even better.
"Let’s keep Ann Arbor a little bit cool," she said.
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