POSTED ON JANUARY 21, 2009:
Sad but True
Vintage treasure trove says goodbye to Tulsa after more than 15 years in business
Driving down Cherry Street, you'd be hard-pressed not to notice the announcement. The building where marked-down items once found themselves outside on a rolling rack now boasts big bright pink letters shouting SALE in both of the store windows. While that word typically evokes giddiness in an avid shopper, this sale is bittersweet because once the deals are done, so too is the store. Yes, it's true. Deco to Disco is bidding Tulsa 'adieu.'
Deco to Disco owner Jennifer Taylor has been providing Tulsans popular vintage clothing since 1992. Taylor had a small space in the Tulsa Antique Mall. The 1990s saw resurgence in vintage clothing, with the fashion-oriented eager for original trends from the 1960s and 1970s. The popularity grew so much that Taylor opened Deco to Disco in 1994 with her brother Maurice, and sold vintage furniture and clothing. Four years ago, the two aspects of the store divided; Maurice stayed at the 2921 E. 15th St. location and renamed the furniture store Mod50s Modern. Taylor took the clothes to their current residence, 1508 E. 15th St., snuggled between Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery and Tom's Bicycles.
Taylor's decision to close is not one filled with drama. She said that business has continued to thrive; but for fear of feeling stagnant, Taylor said that she has reached a point in her life where she wants to do other things.
The reaction from her shoppers has been expected -- sad that this 15-year-old part of Tulsa is ending. But Taylor isn't fully planning on leaving vintage behind. Deco to Disco's items will be sold online, definitely through an etsy.com online store. Taylor is also contemplating building a Web site where she would sell some of the good stuff -- looks from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, some of which are designer. She hopes to have this right away, so get your Google ready.
And while having access to this unique collection will still be worthwhile, half of the appeal of Deco to Disco was -- and will continue to be until its doors close -- the attention to customer service Taylor provided. Taylor has always made it a point to stock what she knew people were looking for. Clients looking for a specific garment for a costume party or for looks for something decade-themed are always in luck. And since Taylor has always paid attention to fashion publications like Vogue, she knew what people wanted. Designers are inspired by vintage items and looks from previous decades and rather than finding an imitation of the original, Tulsans looking for recent popular trends like fedoras or vests could find the real thing at Deco to Disco.
The looks are varied, but the quality of the clothes and accessories has always been maintained. Taylor has continually stocked items that seem like they haven't aged a bit- clothing that dates back even 50 or 60 years that stays in remarkably good condition.
I watched as Taylor took the time time to fix two snagged areas in a sweater someone had just purchased; she also told me that a customer had noticed a spot of one the items he was purchasing the day before, so Taylor took it home to spot treat and he then returned to pick it up.
Deco to Disco also offered an interesting aspect of customer service usually not seen elsewhere in business. Rather than having a competitive outlook with other area vintage stores, Taylor worked in conjunction with another store to help customers find what they wanted. If customers visiting Deco to Disco were unable to find exactly what they were looking for, Taylor would call Cheap Thrills, 3018 E. 15th St., whose owner Kristin Casey is a friend. This exchange worked both ways.
All Here and Accounted For
So you know what Deco to Disco was and where it's going, but what about what it has for you right now? Well, besides slashed prices (50 percent off), a grand assortment of everything you could possibly wear. Taylor has done a remarkable job these past four years of keeping the small space filled without feeling cluttered. Clothing is divided between men and women's and further by decade and certain garments. One fixture of the store displays women's looks from the 1980s next to the round rack filled with coats and dresses from the 1960s and 1970s.
There are racks filled with long dresses from the 1970s, racks of skirts and bellbottoms. Between the two dressing rooms are cubbyholes filled with purses. On one side, half the wall is filled with vintage shoes, beneath which sits drawers filled with scarves. There are hats here and there and several display cases of jewelry -- from costume gold jewelry to day-glo looks from the 1980s. And the clothing has been further organized by size -- small, medium and large.
As Taylor pointed out, Marilyn Monroe was considered a size 14 in the 1950s, a size we would now call an eight. Looks we like to wear today from the 1970s were the looks worn by stick thin teenagers of that decade. Similarly, while Taylor has found several size sevens, expect the shoe collection to stick around sizes five and six, the average size of women's feet in previous decades.
The vintage possibilities are nearly endless. The selection includes: hats, purses, coats, lingerie, dresses, skirts, jeans, tops, pants, aprons, gloves, jewelry, ponchos, scarves, sweaters, belts, men's suits and ties, t-shirts, vests, belt buckles, vintage political buttons and page boy wigs in every color of the rainbow.
In fact, the store's entire collection spans the entire color spectrum, and every textile you could imagine. The looks also balance a line of items that you could wear day-to-day, looks for evening and fun vintage items that might only be brought out every now and then. There's enough to pique the interest of someone who consistently shops vintage and for those who have never contemplated shopping vintage at all.
The well-rounded collection has even brought in a few famous people. Tulsan and model Amber Valletta has shopped there. Taylor said that a big Japanese rock star used to visit frequently, as well as the governor of Virginia. But the big, surprising name that visited Deco to Disco was that of Isaac Brock, lead singer of the band Modest Mouse and a semi-regular shopper before he became super famous.
Pay your respects to this Tulsa gem before it closes its doors on Saturday, February 15. Currently, all items are 50 percent off; and the discount increases to seventy-five percent off in the stores last few days (starting Thursday, February 12 for anyone that chooses to hold off until then). Taylor is also extending the hours of operation; Deco to Disco will now be open Tuesdays through Fridays 11am-5pm, Saturdays 11am-6pm and Sundays 12pm-4pm until the end. And while it is always sad to lose a unique location to shop in the city, vintage-lovers needn't fret. Tulsa is still fortunate enough to have two other vintage stores (Cheap Thrills and Silverscreen Vintage) to find one-of-a-kind, original items.
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