You wouldn’t want to be a small business owner at the best of times, but then again, this isn’t really the best of times we’re having. Businesses are closing left, right, centre and left and right of centre. The youth are draining away, using their creativity and liberal use of graft in other countries, and the news shows multiple accounts of boarded up buildings as a kind of shorthand in every report that involves the word ‘revenue’, ‘emigration’ or ‘rural’.
It’s funny really. Recently, there was a news report on my hometown, Tralee. It showed the boards, the shops (or lack thereof) and the depressed Yoof. Gotta love that depressed Yoof.
And yet. Three new businesses have opened in Tralee this week. One of them is a vintage clothing shop called Pause Play Vintage, in which I am typing this while the owner Dominique goes out to buy some lunch. I don’t work here, by the way. I just nipped in to have a look and ended up staying for a few hours chatting. It’s one of those idiosyncratic shops that one only finds in a small town, in a fog of community that rarely settles on larger bodies. Of course, the big temptation to this shop is the fact that there are clothes in it. I also may really be annoying Dominique by commandeering her laptop and getting bun crumbs all over the keyboard.
Vintage first became a worldwide phenomenon when Julia Roberts turned up to the Oscars in a vintage Valentino dress to collect her Best Actress gong for Erin Brockovich. In the simple black gown with white accents, Roberts took on a columnar, statuesque form herself. Between that and Kate Moss (and what more is there to say about Kate and vintage?) it has taken over with a force that can carpet towns best known for their Penney’s substance abuse problems.
It really is a lovely store – and again, I don’t work here or have any affiliations with the shop – all whitewashed freshness, taxidermy and candy-coloured stock; a virtually perfect mix of unselfconscious kitsch and cool.
We need more shops like this in Ireland. Scratch that, we need more shops like this in Cork. If you are in Cork city and in need of some vintage loving, I heartily encourage you to check out Miss Daisy Blue in The English Market and Mercury Goes Retrograde, which is just at the back of the Savoy Centre. Both are small businesses powered by love, knowledge, hard work and some seriously amazing vintage stock.
Support local businesses if you can. Support local fashion if you can. It is such an important thing to get involved with your community. At least see it like this; you couldn’t stroll into Debenham’s and borrow the manager’s laptop, only to have your writing efforts rewarded with a freshly-baked bun. Think about it.