Sunday, 9 October 2011

Vintage Fairs by Victoria Claire

I never knew Westhoughton held such talent! What do I know!? Let me tell you all about Victoria who organised this fabulous event, held at The Mercury Hotel. 

Wayne, Victoria and Kathleen
Here she is with her lovely parents, Wayne and Kathleen who help run the stall at Westhoughton Market on Tuesday and Thursdays. Victoria is creator of Vibrant Vintage a vintage clothing, accessory and collectable stall. Here's a little interview I did with the lady herself ... 
Q. How did you get into the vintage business?
A. I have always liked the quality of vintage clothing and accessories and regularly travelled to the Northern Quarter in Manchester, York and Durham to purchase unusual dresses.  People in my local area would complement me on my unique style and joke that I should open my own shop.  I was starting to find it time consuming travelling around for vintage clothing so I decided to set up my own vintage clothing, accessory and collectable stall in the Bolton area.  Within three weeks of mooting the idea, I had established Vibrant Vintage by Victoria Claire at a stall on Westhoughton market.  I currently work full time as a lawyer for the housing charity Shelter, so my retired parents agreed to become my business partners and work on the stall every Tuesday and Thursday. My parents were looking for a project to work on and liked the vintage clothing idea as both are interested in antiques.
Kathleen did stirling work on 'the door'
Q. How would you describe your personal style?
A. I would describe my style as feminine but with an elegant and sophisticated twist.  I have a classic hour glass curvy figure so like to wear 1950’s dresses that are nipped in at the waist or fitted pencil skirts with a silk blouse.

Jewels and other finery
 Q. What have you found the most challenging part about setting up a vintage business?
A. I have established my stall in a small town where several people had not heard of vintage.  Initially, we had people coming to the stall saying that they had given clothes like this away and wouldn’t wear them a second time or asking for the second hand shop, expecting very low prices.  We decided to chat to everyone who visited the stall and explain what vintage was, pick out different garments from various eras and show them the quality of the clothing, we also reiterated the individuality of the clothing.  Slowly customers became interested in the stall or recommended us to people who may be interested.  We have started to build up a customer base who regularly visits the stall.  However, some people who visited the stall were interested in vintage clothing but stated that they could not find dresses to fit them.  It was a challenge finding vintage clothing in larger sizes, however by persevering we have managed to source good quality clothes in a range of sizes.  Finally, we have found it challenging setting up a business in a recession as money is in short supply.  To address this problem, we have established a lay away service, where customers can pay a small deposit and put a garment away and pay it off via regular instalments.  This has proved to be very popular especially when purchasing some of our highly collectable compacts.

Beautiful vintage compacts
 Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. I enjoy meeting diverse people while talking about vintage.  I find it rewarding when someone comes to the stall looking for a dress for a special occasion but lacking confidence in how to wear the garment or accessorise the outfit.  I enjoy talking the customer through various options and showing how the outfit can be made to look completely different depending on the accessories used.  It is lovely when that same person returns to the stall with photographs of the occasion.  I also like that we have established a vintage clothing business less than six months ago and have already diversified into vintage fairs due to the interest and lack of such shops in the area.  
Victoria and her helpers

For more information you can contact Victoria several ways as follows:
Telephone: 07787 316234
Oh by the way! I forgot to mention .... Victoria's vintage garments are hard to resist. I couldn't get myself out of this one, so I had to buy it! That's my excuse anyway ...

1950s lilac number

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