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Girl Makes Good with Vintage Finds, Carries On Local Legend

Once upon a time, I received a call from a friend. She was at a neighborhood sale and said I had to come see all the vintage clothes. I did. I had no idea what I was getting into.

I walked away from the sale $50 lighter but carrying 50 lbs worth of clothes! I listed those first vintage items for sale on Etsy. I used the profits, small as they were, to reinvest in more stock. I tried out different styles, different sizes, different items. Eventually I got a feel for what customers wanted. In the meantime, I continued doing costuming on and off for local theaters in addition to editing and working retail.

In the summer of 2012, the owner of our local vintage shop needed to retire. I had spent hours, even days there, scouring the shop for costumes and accessories to be used on stage, as well as bolstering my personal vintage wardrobe. When Rosie decided to call it quits, we had a long talk. The original discussion was long, but the outcome seemed to take place overnight; I handed her a check and she handed me the keys. Six months later she passed away from cancer. The night before she died, I had stopped at the hospital to see her. I reassured her that the shop, her baby, was doing well. She smiled, unable to talk.

Since then, many things have changed. We've rearranged, redecorated, reorganized. We wrangled the landlord into fixing the roof of the building, even if only temporarily. There are now about six of us, women who sublet space in the shop as vendors. We bring each other cookies and cakes. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. We ooh and ahh over each others' show-and-tell finds.

I kept the name Retro Rosie's, even after Rosie was gone. The shop is still painted pink, and we still carry the best selection of vintage clothing around. If you stop by, Snickers will open one of his sleepy eyes and cock an ear at you. If you have treats, he might even get up and let you pet him. And we'll all be there, laughing and crying and swearing, while finding, fixing, and selling the most gorgeous vintage clothes.

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  • Kris Grooms


    Retro Rosie's Vintage is a small clothing and antiques shop in Bradenton, FL, just south of Tampa. If you're ever in the area, stop by. My rescue shop-dog Snickers would love to meet you!

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