We went off to Helena on Feb 20.
Our first stops, in Townsend, were a bit bizarre. I’ve had good luck at the antique mall there before, and while it’s still mostly antiques, a tanning parlor has moved into one of the booths, while another is selling nothing but discount toilet paper and tissues. The windowless junk shop at the other end of downtown said it was open, and sure enough, the door was unlocked, but the lights were off and no one was in. We awkwardly let ourselves out. We’ve been to Helena enough times at this point that we’ve pretty much seen the sights- the downtown, the neighborhoods, the back alleys, the sprawl and the hidden gems. No, this trip was strictly business, hitting the shops looking for vintage clothes and things for the bus. I made some pretty good finds, a Pendleton half-belt gabardine jacket, ’40s 3 piece suit, a few other jackets, shirts and odds and ends. One of my favorite thrift shops in town separates the vintage clothing from the regular stock and puts it in its own room. The prices are a bit more than the regular racks, but nothing outrageous. Unfortunately, it was closed off with caution tape this time around and the lights were off. The side room at one of the antique malls where last time I was there I found buckets of hundreds of vintage neckties was also closed off. I probably bought them out. Ha! It’s always funny going back to antique stores and seeing the same things that haven’t sold for several years. Sometimes, it’s a blessing, like in Billings where I’ve come back and bought things months later when I had the money and sure enough, they were still there. Sometimes it’s just clutter, the kind of thing you wonder, “who would buy this”, and realize the answer is “no one”.
I struggle with being recognized. The vintage clothing world is a small one and can sometimes get competitive and weird. On the whole, though, I’ve found dealers more than willing to help each other out and I make an active effort to share my research on brands and labels openly. And it’s always heartwarming for me to run into people in real life and hear that my guide on zippers or Woolrich labels or whatever it happens to be has helped someone to date a piece of clothing. I had found something I wanted at one of the shops on this trip, and as always seems to happen with the things I want, it hadn’t been priced yet. When researching the label to see how much to charge me, the first website that popped up was mine. I have the same problem when researching things myself. This site seems to be one of the few places that archives past sales and information (other than some of the spectacular Japanese dealers whose pictures I drool over and whose text google translates hamhandedly) and google searches feed my own photos back to me when I try to see what else is out there. Thankfully, we were able to find a price that suited both of us.
Some of the finds- I kept a shirt for myself and my roommate snagged a m1950 field jacket before it was shot..
I found a nice WWII issue peacoat at the last thrift shop we hit, but wasn’t able to buy it- it had been set aside as a free coat for the homeless as part of a drive and they wouldn’t pull it on a paying basis.