An Interview With The Vintage Corner

Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I discovered The Vintage Corner back in November at Liverpool's Affordable Vintage Fair and fell in love with their stall of vintage clothes instantly- it was especially the sparkly tops that caught my attention! As I'm keen to get more interviews on the blog, I decided to hop on the train to Waterloo to meet Alison & Cheryl, the lovely ladies behind 'The Vintage Corner', and find out about their vintage business, how it all began and, vintage lovers, fashion lovers or anyone that just likes a good 'ole interview, read on and be inspired by these vintage-loving and vintage savvy ladies!

The fashionable ladies themselves, Alison (left) and Cheryl (right)

So, tell me a little bit about The Vintage Corner and how you both started the business?

Alison: Initially, we both started as two separate businesses. Cheryl started hers about four years ago, and me about three years ago. We did vintage fairs at the weekend and had our own stalls selling vintage clothes and accessories- then we both finally met when Cheryl organised a local vintage fair in Formby and we became friends after that. We were both tired of doing vintage fairs all the time, as it was a lot of hard work and it involved 6am wake up calls!- which meant we weren't able to have much of a social life at the weekends. So we decided to open up The Vintage Corner, just in June last year. It was initially just going to be a storage space then we would do the occasional fair as well but we got such great feedback from locals and had lots of customers, as in Waterloo- we're the only vintage shop and we both get along really well so we thought it would be a bit of fun and decided to open as a shop!

How would you describe the Vintage Corner to customers that haven't been before?

The best vintage shop in the world, haha! ...Well, mainly The Vintage Corner is all about providing the best quality, older vintage clothing, and accessories from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We sell beautiful dresses, fur jackets and collars...just the best quality vintage we can find. We like to buy in real special pieces, dressy items with the nice material and good cuts- something that you'd want in your wardrobe forever.

Was it always your ambition to open a shop like The Vintage Corner?

Well, when we first met, we said we wouldn't want to open a shop- we've always wanted to work with vintage and sell vintage but it seemed like quite a big risk at the time, economically as it's quite a big commitment to make. It eventually just evolved and we just thought why not, we'll just do it! It's a lot more affordable anyway as we're not in the city center as well and there's not the trouble of competing with other shops as we're out of town. It's easier for the locals but people still travel to us after finding us on our Facebook page which is great.

Did you both study something fashion-related at school or was it something else that started your love for vintage?

Alison: I studied tourism and then was a nanny for a while- which has nothing to do with vintage really! But I think it was my mum that started my love for vintage as she was always very well dressed and when she was in her 20s, she used to buy vintage clothes then. She would buy me vintage clothes from charity shops, as back in the day, you could find good vintage clothing there. I was a bit embarrassed as a teenager having clothes from charity shops but I think when I grew out of that 'embarrassed teenager' phase I thought, this is pretty cool actually!

Cheryl: I did languages then I worked as a manager in Topshop and Selfridges so I think that retail background has definitely given me some good experience for working at The Vintage Corner but vintage is something I've always wanted to work in.

What would you say is the most challenging part of working at The Vintage Corner?

The ironing haha! ... I think finding the really good stock is probably the hardest part of it, we do have good contacts and suppliers though. Finding vintage clothing is very easy, but finding really good quality, special pieces is a lot more difficult. Luckily, when it comes to marketing, it's quite easy to attract new customers- Facebook is great for that as we have quite a big following on our page.

And the best part?

Finding amazing pieces! It's the shopping and buying that's one of the best parts but we both love being able to work together as we're best friends. It just makes going to work a lot more fun and enjoyable and we spend most of the day laughing! Another thing we love is when a customer finds something that they absolutely adore, it fits perfectly on them and they feel amazing in it too, it's like that item of clothing was meant for them- it's a great feeling to see that happen. It's amazing how it can change people as well, we've had some customers that maybe aren't as confident with their style and when they try on something that suits them, you can physically see the change and that it's boosted their confidence!

Where do you source your clothes?

We sometimes buy clothes at vintage fairs and from dealers but we also get a lot of customers who come into the shop and sell their old vintage clothes to us. The best items come in from people's personal collections, they come into our shop and say "I've had this in my wardrobe forever because I love it so much but now I want to sell it!"...we love it when that happens!

What inspires the clothes you buy for the Vintage Corner?

We keep up with current fashions but the thing about vintage, is you can only buy what you can't go out with a shopping list and expect to find what you we just look for the best pieces we can find and that suit our shop. We buy with our customers in mind and we have a request book where we keep a note of what the customers are looking for as well.

What do you love most about vintage?

I think vintage has something magical about it, it's a much better feeling trying on something vintage and it fits perfectly than trying to wear something from the high-street that doesn't suit everybody's shape. More and more people are telling us that they'll spend all day trawling around town looking for something and can't find anything then they come to our shop and find what they've been looking for! That's what's great about vintage- it's so individual and you don't look like everybody else. 

Is vintage better than the high street?

Yes, definitely! We're trying to get our wardrobes to 100% vintage- it's a bit of an addiction actually! We do still shop on the high-street for basic things like leggings and jeans but for really special items, we always prefer vintage to high-street. We just want to look different and it's also important we represent our shop too. When we go out, our friends sometimes think we're mad for what we wear, but for us it's normal- the wackier the outfit, the better! We don't care really because we feel comfortable in our own style and that's what matters.

What do you think of the style of Liverpool you think they dress too similar?

A lot of people tend to say that but I think honestly the girls in Liverpool like to be unique. We get Liverpool girls coming into our shop that love buying different things- they're adventurous in their own style so we know that if we buy in the craziest vintage pieces that we love, we know they'll love it too. It also makes it more fun for us because it means there are no boundaries to what we can buy for the shop! In a good way, the thing about Liverpool is that anything goes here!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business like yours?

I think the most important thing is making sure it's affordable. We made sure that set up costs weren't a lot so even if it fell through, we'd still be earning enough from selling vintage on our Facebook page. From pretty much day one, we were making a profit so that was important.

As for stock- always go for quality over quantity. There's no point in buying loads of cheap items, it's better buying a couple of expensive items of better quality because you will always sell the nicer things...that's something we've learned from working at the shop because now we will spend a lot more but buying nicer items instead of bulk buying like we used to sometimes do.

Finally, what's next for the vintage corner?

Cheryl: Alison wants to take over the vintage world, and have shops everywhere haha! ... We don't really know at the moment but we're happier where we are currently so the plan is to just keep going but maybe in the future we'd expand to a second shop...who knows!

...and that's a wrap for the third episode of my 'An Interview With...' series...this was my first ever face-to-face interview I've done and it couldn't have gone better! Chatting with Alison & Cheryl felt like chatting with friends and I had a good laugh too. It was so interesting for me (and I hope for all of you too!) to find out more about their vintage fashion business and have a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I loved exploring around the shop too and will definitely be back (when I have a bit more dollar) to treat myself to something...I've been dreaming about those vintage Moschino belts ever since I visited!

If you're in the area or are looking for the best vintage clothing in Liverpool, head to 61 St Johns Road in Waterloo and you will not be disappointed! You can also like their Facebook page here & follow their Instagram here for more info & updates. Stay tuned for my next interview with The Orielles!