Can’t find the perfect retail space? No big deal – just take your shop on the road.
That’s what Worcester fashion blogger and thrifting fanatic Amy Chase did. In April, after a lengthy real-estate search, Chase turned down a storefront in her hometown. Somehow, it just didn’t feel right. Despondent, she met friends for drinks.
“They said whatever you do, we’ll follow you,’’ Chase, 28, said. And then it came to her: start a traveling vintage store. The next morning she was on eBay, bidding on old trailers.
She lost an auction on a 1954 silver Bellwood trailer, but eventually talked the owner, who lives in Framingham, into selling her the tear-drop shaped camper for $2,000. For weeks, Chase and her boyfriend, graphic designer Kyle Mitchell, painted and wallpapered the trailer’s interior and installed clothing and shoe racks.
On a recent weekend, she parked her mobile shop, dubbed Haberdash, in front of vintage store Dame in Jamaica Plain. People circled and asked questions about the Bellwood, and popped inside to browse. There’s just enough room for a 5-foot-7 woman to stand upright. Customers left with purple suede platform heels and a gold lamé dress straight from Donna Summer’s disco-era closet. Chase gave away screen-printed black canvas bags emblazoned with a trailer.
It’s fitting that the girl who’s never dressed like anyone else would have a unique storefront.
For as long as she can remember, Chase has been keen on making clothes and putting together outfits. When she was in fifth grade, she wore parakeet pajama bottoms under a mini skirt to school.
Her childhood nickname was Punky, after the TV character Punky Brewster, “because my clothes never matched,’’ Chase said. “Everybody in Worcester knows me by Punky.’’
In January 2006, a friend in a Web design class offered to create a blog for her – and Punkystyle.com was born. Chase has written posts about “ten things she wouldn’t spend money on,’’ the Brimfield Flea Market, and designer collections at Target, and has shared photos of herself wearing thrift store boleros and boots and plastic animal masks.
Sequins and anything ripped and shredded are Chase’s current obsessions, and she’s especially into the wild prints and colors of the 1980s. She yearns for an early-’90s Chanel windbreaker she saw a woman wearing on Thayer Street in Providence.
“Vintage girls who are into the ’50s and ’60s look are too vanilla for me,’’ she said.
Chase works as a credit manager by day and as a bartender at rock club Lucky Dog most nights. In her so-called free time, she blogs and trolls markets, estate sales, and church fairs for vintage threads and accessories for Haberdash and her Etsy online store.
She debuted Haberdash at the Dive Bar in Worcester and towed it to Tweed River Festival in Stockbridge, Vt., in early July. Look for the trailer at the SoWa Open Market in the South End in August, September, and October.
“That’s the beauty of it,’’ Chase said of her store on wheels. “I don’t have to be too serious about it. I can go wherever I want.’’