Moving from their first location on Broadway Blvd, Off-Broadway is located on Central Avenue near campus and sells vintage clothing.
While they do sell costumes, the shop is primarily a vintage store with clothing from before the 1980s. However, the two work hand in hand, storeowner Susan Ricker said. Her goal is to find ways to mix vintage with contemporary fashion.
“It's transformative to wear a costume,” Ricker said. “If you were all vintage from one period, like all 50s, (you are) in a costume because that's not what I call contemporary dressing. I sell vintage clothing primarily as contemporary fashion. So, you mix eras.”
Local artist and store employee, Jordan Alvarenga, grew up visiting the store and said it has become a staple of New Mexico. The recycled clothing, Alvarenga said, comes with the previous owner’s stories.
“So much of the clothing here comes from the people of New Mexico. I find that really special,” Alvarenga said. “There's a story of a dress; when there's an older woman with her mother's dresses, she tells us her life story. We're all here just pretending like we're not listening, but we are.”
Ricker grew up playing dress-up in vintage Victorian clothing, allowing her passion for vintage to start young. She moved to New Mexico to pursue her master's in painting at the University of New Mexico and eventually started selling vintage wear on the side, Ricker said.
“I had to decide if I wanted to pursue teaching full time or if I wanted to do the vintage, and I chose to do business on my own. I was just sort of thrown into it and I figured it out,” Ricker said.
Being in business for the past 40 years, store-owner Ricker started off with thrifting pieces but said that now people now bring finds to her.
The Albuquerque Rapid Transit project was one of the biggest recent struggles the business has faced, but Ricker said they continue to be profitable.
The store employees will also help style clients that come in. Employee Jakey Onassis said that her style icons are from the 1960’s – like Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor – for incorporating rhinestones and prints.
“I try not to overthink when I'm styling either a customer or I'm styling myself, because I feel like when you overthink is when you make mistakes,” Onassis said. “I have a rule. My rule is things don't have to match, they just have to make sense.”
Both Onassis and Alvarenga said the relationship they have with the clients is their favorite part of the job. Alvarenga, who used to work at an antique shop, said that working with clothing has felt more intimate than with furniture.
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“When you have a customer and they say I want to look this way, I want to be perceived this way,” Alvarenga said. “to me, they're being vulnerable. And it's a way to connect with people and see them for what they want – to try and get them to the place they want to be. It's just a really great exchange. It's a bit of a deeper exchange.”
Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @maddogpukite