Entrepreneur discovers a unique story in vintage clothing

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It’s a Wednesday afternoon and local store owner Loren Long is working hard behind the counter, taking care of his customers eager to buy, sell or trade unique clothes at his store, Recollect Ltd., in Fayetteville.

He greets a customer as he walks to the counter with a large tote bag in his hand. The customer hands the bag to Long and explains that he has “insane items” that he wants to get rid of his hands. Long happily accepts the bag of clothes and begins to analyze each item as if it were fine jewelry.

As Long gets to work behind the counter, he begins by identifying any holes, stains, or damaged items. It analyzes labels, seams and other details to understand the time of the item and the amount it is willing to donate.

Vintage guru, Long is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to learning about the history of vintage objects. For a 26-year-old, this entrepreneur has an old soul when it comes to rare pieces from the past.

He starts to get excited as he pulls out of the tote bag a NASCAR t-shirt that he immediately notices is from 1995. He explains that “you can tell the time by the way the screen printing is done … the reprints just aren’t the same anymore., man. “

Long then continues to sort through the rest of the tote bag looking for new inventory. After examining the customer’s goods, he takes three shirts from the pile. “I can offer you $ 80 for those three,” he tells the seller, who happily accepts the offer.

Transactions like this happen daily at Recollect, where Long’s ability to analyze clothing from decades past becomes second nature to him. “It’s always exciting to see the new items that people bring to sell every day… I love the story that each piece represents here,” says Long. “Vintage clothes make me happy. “

It’s hard to step into Recollect without feeling like you’ve stepped into a super hip mid-80s time capsule, an aesthetic Long worked hard to bring to life after years of selling his parents’ living room.

Around the store, shelves are organized and filled with unique vintage yarns from the ’80s and’ 90s that are carefully chosen and sometimes even restored by Long.

Long always thinks of vintage. Whether it’s diving into the Goodwill Outlet store in Rogers or browsing the area’s flea markets and garage sales, he’s always hungry for unique items.

The owner of Recollect explains that it is not just him who contributes to the success of the store, his partner and co-owner Evan Soucy “is the yin of my yang when it comes to managing the day-to-day operations of the store. … He does the bookkeeping and the work online, and I focus on the vintage.

The duo began working together in retail as part-time sales floor associates years ago at Finish Line. While gaining valuable retail and customer service experience working for a large corporation, the two realized their shared passion for vintage clothing and retail.

While browsing the store, Long shows off some of his favorite finds from a recent thrift store. He’s almost giddy when he talks about the history of some of the vintage windbreakers hanging on the rack.

Grabbing an item from the shelf, he explains. “I found this’ 90s Nike piece at an old lady’s garage sale last week.” After taking a look at the price, which says $ 55, the value of some of these vintage items is obvious.

Soucy explains that the items in the store “aren’t just old, second-hand shirts and jackets, but a nostalgic feeling for the past that clothes bring to shoppers. … That’s what Loren is selling here. Nostalgia.”

The couple agree that the value of an item is “relative to the customer”; some objects that are priceless for one are worthless for the other. In view of this, Long is constantly on the lookout for new items to appeal to its diverse customer base and to meet the growing demand.

Prior to opening his outlet on College Avenue, Long sold the majority of his items online, especially on the Recollect Instagram page and the Etsy store. “The operation was small and I stored the majority of my inventory in my mother’s house,” he says, but the vintage Recollect store grew quickly as word spread throughout the area. region.

Long says he chose Fayetteville because “there was just kind of an opening for it. You know there are a lot of vintage spots in Fayetteville, but most of them are women [clothing] oriented, so there’s nothing really here that mainly does stuff from guys like us.

While attending the University of Arkansas as a music education student, Long says he quickly realized that music was not the path he wanted to take, and that instead, he wanted to pursue his long-held dream of opening a clothing store where “people could meet”.

The store owner saw a gap in the market as a student and realized that targeting a niche portion of the resale market could become a profitable business, “especially in a city with a large population. number of students hungry for new vintage items to show off. “

He says opening in a college town like Fayetteville was a great choice because “you have an integrated audience that always attracts new clients. And there are always people who bring new people to you. University towns are therefore still good.

Long also attributes his enthusiasm for retailing to “the fact that we just talk to all kinds of different people every day, but also that there are always exciting things that happen. I love the story of the items and seeing clothes that I have never seen before. You never know what’s going to come through the door.

Grady Stracener, a regular Recollect customer, says: “Loren’s passion for vintage is evident in the way he carefully selects the best items to showcase.

He points to the hat and vintage polo shirt he’s wearing and says, “I almost bought this whole outfit here. Loren’s store is by far the best in the area and keeps me coming back every week.

The Recollect owner’s favorite item he bought is “A 1976 Leon Russell Tour T-Shirt, which was a pretty rare find that just walked through the door, you know?” And it’s super fun for me. I like interesting things.

(The Leon Russell shirt was priced at $ 100 on the Recollect website).

It wasn’t all a “cake walk” for Long and his vintage company. He and Soucy recognize the challenges of opening their first retail store and the abundance of lessons they have learned.

Early in my career as a store owner, “the biggest challenge was figuring out what our market was. When we opened, we filled the shelves with items that we thought were going to sell very well, [and] it ended up not being like that at all.

After trying and failing to stock the right items for their store, Long “found our niche in terms of what sells in Fayetteville and just started developing those categories.”

In early March, the early stages of the covid-19 pandemic began to affect Long’s business. It was forced to shut down Recollect for two months after being opened for barely a year. It was a tough pill to swallow after months of hard work by the couple and left them fearful for the future of their store.

Soucy says the experience “was quite difficult. We’ve learned a lot about how to keep our online income stable and we spend a lot of time on our website and social media, ”which has been a lifeline for the small business.

Long decided to temporarily pivot the business and focus strictly on online sales at the start of the outbreak. Fortunately, her plan worked and Recollect was able to reopen with sanitary measures in place in May and continued to remain open with mask requirements.

Long’s business future looks bright as he hopes to expand Recollect into a larger retail space soon. Exceeding the size of their current store “is a good deal to have,” he says. The Recollect team plans to open a second store in Northwest Arkansas in the near future as demand for vintage grows. From humble beginnings selling clothes from his parents’ house to choosing to open a store rather than pursue a career in classical music, Long is here for the long haul and doesn’t look back.

Riley Porcarello graduated in Journalism and majored in Advertising / Public Relations at the University of Arkansas. He plans to move to Southern California after graduation to work in the entertainment industry, specifically in music marketing. This story was written as part of a story writing course. Contact him at Riley [email protected] .

Recollect co-owner Evan Soucy explains that the items in the store “aren’t just old, second-hand shirts and jackets, but a nostalgic sense of the past that clothing brings to shoppers. … That’s what Loren is selling here. Nostalgia. ”(Courtesy Photo / Riley Porcarello)

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

more vintage

– Riley Porcarello

High Voltage Discoveries: Newly opened vintage clothing store that first gained a large following on Instagram, specializing in ’70s clothing, it is located just off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville, right next door from the Walmart neighborhood market.

Designer Again: Trendy resale and consignment store located in downtown Fort Smith with a great selection of lightly used clothing, books and other exciting finds.

Crimson & Clover: Vintage, handmade boutique with a collection of clothing from the 60s to the 90s. The store is located on South Government Drive in Fayetteville.

Rose Antique & Flea Market: One of the oldest flea markets in the region, for 30 years and growing, it offers 14,000 square feet with over 100 stalls of unique treasures including coins, furniture and jewelry on Walnut Street in Rogers.

Cheap Thrills: Conveniently located next to Fayetteville Square, Cheap Thrills offers vintage clothing, unique accessories and exciting costumes from all eras.

410 Vintage Market: A local Fayetteville staple, 410 specializes in eclectic mid-century furniture, home decor, and rare clothing finds. It’s located on College Avenue, just up from Ozark Natural Foods.


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