Cincinnati is full of history buffs, but if you’re looking to have an authentic Mad Men moment and you love a good a bargain, the Vintage Clothing Source “Vintage Madness” warehouse sale is the place to be.
When I stopped by at the end of last week, it quickly became obvious that this stuff is the real deal. The selection is so vast that it’s almost overwhelming. Rows and rows of rolling racks line the cement floor, stuffed with dresses and coats and suits and lingerie and uniforms from the 1930s–1970s and beyond. According to purveyor Michael Angelo Testa, the original collection contained around 15,000 pieces loaned to Hollywood production companies for movies like Pleasantville, A League of Their Own, and Sea Biscuit. Some of the pieces go way back: Apparently, one of Jimmy Stewart’s combs was found in the pocket of an old suit jacket.
Despite the lofty history of the merchandise, the warehouse itself is just that: a stripped down warehouse. The entrance is a completely nondescript set of paper-covered glass doors in the middle of a white building. I drove past it three times. It’s kind of annoying if you don’t know what to look for, but it also lends an air of exclusive secrecy to the whole operation.
After browsing the racks inside, I found a few things to try on, including a glamorous swing coat and an empire waist gown that would be perfect for a vintage-inspired garden wedding. There were maybe 10 or 15 other shoppers there, all silently bonding over our shared interests. Christine Kozobarich, a photographer who’d been there shopping the day before, drove all the way back from Columbus to take pictures of another shopper (who happens to be comedienne Kelly Colette) for her website. I shared the mirror with a mother and daughter trying on coats and discovered we had exactly the same taste in outerwear. Several people convinced me to buy a dress that looked “amazing.” Who knows if it did, but I didn’t really care.
I chatted with Michael Angelo about where these things had been (a warehouse in some unnamed Midwestern location) and where any leftovers will go (a buyer is interested in purchasing the collection), but the gist is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to literally own a part of history. Go NOW.
Keep in mind:
People were much smaller in the ’40s and ’50s, so adjust your concept of sizes accordingly. I saw heels that looked like they were made for an American Girl doll instead of a grown-up human lady.
Some items have stains and signs of general wear and tear. Inspect closely before you buy.
Go with an idea of what you’re looking for, otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed. Coats, uniforms, and accessories like bags and hats are a good bet.
There’s only one mirror and no real changing room, so wear clothes you can try things on over.
Vintage Clothing Source liquidation sale, 2224 Waycross Rd. Monday & Tuesday 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Final Madness Sale 1/2 off Wednesday 9 a.m.–3 p.m.