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The Getup Vintage Keeping Ann Arbor Groovy

This is the GetUp Vintage in Ann Arbor, MI
How Lindsey + Kaylan keep Ann Arbor feeling groovy

Walking into the Getup Vintage, Lindsey Leyland and Kaylan Mitchell ‘s store on State Street in Ann Arbor, is a bit of a time warp – the clothes on display, from flared pants to boho maxies feel kind of back in the day when protests were thick, love and change were in the air, and possibilities for a sustainable future seemed endless. Full circle on the protests, the once radical U of M campus still sports a healthy sense of what can be possible – the place is solar powered, off the grid, and mainly carries materials made in America. Fast fashion has no place in this low-waste, super cool independently owned vintage mecca. We sat down with Lindsey and Kaylan and learned how they transitioned from shop girls to #Girlbosses.

How do you two know each other?
Lindsey – it was from working here. Kaylan was initially working at the Michigan Theater and I was working for Kelly (the previous owner) but we never actually worked together.

Kaylan – I was hired part-time here as well because I brought popcorn every week when I would be finished with my shift at the theater I would come over and give the old owner popcorn and she hired me!
L – She had an opening and we were like “Let’s hire her! She’s super cute…she brings popcorn…”

 Let’s hire the popcorn girl!
L -and I worked at a soup stand at the time so it was all this delicious food we’d bring in! Oddly we never actually worked together but in passing we would see each other, hang out a little… and when Kelly offered to sell it to us, we were like, Oh yeah, that makes sense. We both come from different backgrounds that worked together.

K – Yes she really only wanted to sell it to both of us. She made it very clear that it wasn’t one or the other  – that we had to do it together.

 L – I think since she did it by herself she was aware how one can burn out super fast in vintage if you don’t have a partner carrying half of the load. Sourcing, finding, cleaning, repairing, making sure all the clothes look good…so she was adamant that what will burn you out in this business is not having somebody who does checks and balances with you, or makes sure your taxes are paid on time. Lots of small businesses go under real fast.

getupvintage business cards

How long have you had the business?
K+L – four years

Did either of you have retail experience before that?
L – I’ve been working in vintage since I was 17.
K – I had more business management. I had a staff of 35 at the theater.

Were you into vintage before you started working here, too?
K – Oh yeah! I used to skip high school and would pay the parking lot attendant lady to let me out.  If you slipped her a pack of Marlboro Reds, she’d let you out of the parking lot…so I used to give her a pack of Marlboro Reds and go to 11 Mile Road and Main Street. Back then it was all vintage stores, antique stores, thrift stores, killer Salvation Army. For me in highschool it was a gold mine.

 I love when there’s a lot of good vintage! Is there any particular era that resonates with you?
L – The seventies for me. There’s no subtlety in the ‘70s. If you like bold prints, if you like bright colors… you’re not going to find a broad neutral palate in the ‘70s! There’s that photo print material which is absolutely amazing and it’s hard to get your hands on now. You don’t find that in any other era, it sticks out the most, it’s the most definable. But you can also go from bohemian to disco in the same era and they’re both really flattering, incredible looks for all types of people.

K – And I’d say I’m pretty much similar but I skew in terms of visually, a little more 66-71

 A little more mod…
K -Space mod, Pucci, Pierre Cardin,
L – And I just want to look like an Easy Rider -you know cult fashion / motorcycle wear
K – ‘60s isn’t that easy to wear but as a design element, it’s what I love.

The Getup Vintage has a groovy exterior

The Getup Vintage has a groovy exterior

What was the reaction of friends when you decided to buy this place?
L – My family was juiced, her family was juiced, her parents gave us the original loan to buy.
K – They helped us with everything.

L – You know, banks kept turning us down. They see two younger women come in who aren’t in business gear and maybe don’t look like the best on paper but you know this business had been here for 10 years before it was making money and now we’re buying something that has already been established. We got turned down so many times and fortunately her parents were kind enough to step in.
K – They’re the most supportive parents in the world.
L – So we just said “Let’s do this!” and her parents did the loan and my dad came in and gutted the place and remodeled the entire store. We couldn’t have done it without either set of parents and I’ve wanted to own a store since I was 13. So my dad was like “Yes, let’s do this for you let’s make this happen.”
K- and we just paid the last payment on our loan so everybody’s good.

Roncelli Mint Green Pantsuit

Roncelli Mint Green Pantsuit

Congratulations! So you have this store but you have a website as well. How do you navigate between the worlds of brick and mortar and online shopping?
K – About 15% of our total is online sales but what’s important about it is that we sell pieces that we wouldn’t sell in Ann Arbor. Maybe Ann Arbor doesn’t understand this amazing Roncelli mint green women’s pantsuit but we put it online and ship it to Australia or New York or L.A.

L – and we come across a lot of stuff from the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s that’s too fragile for an 18-year-old to manhandle in the fitting room. Not that I’m not going to let you try it on if you request we bring it in of course, but when it gets really busy in here and the run of the mill packs of kids come in and want to try on this super fragile 1920s type of thing… it makes me sweat! The amount of time and care it takes to  preserve garments that are old is too much for the store so we don’t really bring in anything older than the ‘50s.

So you actually keep the online stuff elsewhere.
K – Yeah, but every once in a while we’ll bring it in. Or when the Ann Arbor Art Fair was happening we brought in a lot of our higher priced items and put them up. Some of the unique stuff that we do have online and then we had little tags made up that said “I’m on Etsy, check me out”. So people do know we have an online store.

 Where do you find the vintage?
L- All over the place…90% of the stuff in the store comes from in-home buys: going to people’s homes, digging through people’s attics, basements, garages, wherever the stuff is.

 How do you find those? Estate sales? Or they come to you?
L – Since we’ve been here 14 years…
K – You know I have a whole list, a whole page of people that I need to call back today.
L – Yeah it’s just consistently “hey Nancy told Susan that you came out to her house would you come out to my house.” And that way you get to be in their environment so it’s much more comfortable for them.

“It’s really hard for people to let go of this stuff –you know these are their memories so if you can sit there and talk with them for an hour or so about “what was this, where did you wear this”, they recognize that you’re not going to just give it away to anybody; you’re going to preserve it and pass it along to someone who really loves it. ”

— Lindsey
Nellie Hill

Nellie Hill

We had this whole collection of Nellie Hill, she was an actress in the ‘40s and a nightclub singer and her great grand-daughter sold me her collection of stuff and sent me all these movie bills and posters and told me what each thing that she wore was; she had all of her clothes custom made for her and it was like really cool – we ended up hugging and crying at the end and it was a really lovely transaction between us.

 That’s the thing, isn’t it, about clothes, the ones you keep, they tell great stories. What were some of the early challenges when you took this over?
K- The amount of inventory that we inherited! We had a storage unit filled just top to bottom and for the first few years I would go once a week and I would pull out, sort, and try to find what was good for the store.
L – We transitioned from having every type of thing to having very specific things. Before we bought it, every type of vintage thing was in here. That’s cool if you are a digger but overwhelming to some 19 year old kid from LA who’s used to boutiques. So we streamlined it and really picked the things that would sell the best and then we were left with all this other stuff that we had to deal with.
K – Yeah like two bins of men’s tuxedo ruffles? Okayyyy
L – And we weren’t able to hire an employee until the 2nd year so running the store, sorting, -all of that stuff just fell on us. And that was the hardest part of starting a business.

Let’s talk about sustainability. Are your customers aware of issues of sustainability or not really?
K – I think it’s 70% who aren’t thinking about it. I do engage with customers more about it if people mention things.
L – We’re pretty vocal about why this is so good for the environment. We have signs in all of the fitting rooms about textile waste and that type of thing but your average person comes in here to get something fun, something nobody has, and they’re not thinking like oh this is really good for the environment. But when you buy something second hand whether its vintage or at a thrift store you are really lowering that textile waste process, the carbon footprint of the fashion industry in general.

In case somebody reading this wants to start their own business what advice would you offer?
K+L – Get a good lawyer, get a good accountant straight out the gate! Make sure it’s all together before you open the door.


Before you donate to a thrift store read this first.

–Katya Moorman

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