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The afternoon spent browsing the rails at Chelmsford’s finest vintage store is one Caroline Stacey won’t need to be asked twice to repeat!
A browse inside Truly Madly Vintage elicits that wonderfully mischievous feeling you get when you sneak a peek around someone else’s home. Only here, everything’s for sale. Even down to the vintage fruit machine occupying a space near the sales counter, the kitsch design of which had me executing speedy mental arithmetic but alas, it’s not a purchase I can currently justify.
The comfortably lived in surroundings of the shop belie the relative newness of the Truly Madly Vintage (or TMV for short) Moulsham Street premises but Hayley Steedman, the shop manager, assures me this has been home since only June of this year. She’s delighted when I mention how homey it feels, “That’s exactly the look I was going for”, she says, her relaxed and friendly demeanour only endorsing my remark. The checkerboard floor to the front part of the shop conjures up images of monochrome mods twisting the night away to Northern Soul beats. A large oval table, currently smothered in stocking filler ideas, takes centre stage whilst rail after rail of perfectly presented vintage line the room. A mirrored wall of bags lines the route past the musically inspired men’s section out into the furniture-filled home ware department, lovingly arranged like a retro living room. Here you’d be forgiven for thinking the make-belief occupant has a trip planned, rootling as you can through her perfectly packed cases of gloves, hats, basques, belts and blankets.
Everybody Loves Vintage
“Business is good”, Hayley tells me. Her outfit flawlessly complements her role, a red floral print tea dress with a navy cropped cardigan, tan ankle boots and a cute necklace which she, rather modestly, admits she made herself. “Vintage is just so massive now, we get them all in here. College guys and girls on their lunch breaks, people experimenting with different styles and then the diehards-the ones who wear only vintage, from head to toe, all day every day. Incredulous as to how she couldn’t, I ask Hayley whether all of her wages are spent in the shop, “Yes,” she replies emphatically, “My whole wardrobe is from here, in here everything is individual. At first I’d go into Top Shop and be confused about why there was ten of everything, I don’t really shop anywhere else anymore.”
The Price is Right
Following a couple of jumpy phone call interruptions, the pleasingly vintage phone’s chime is unpardonably loud but I’m relieved to see even Hayley jumps a little, I decide to have a closer look at a few items which have caught my eye and on enquiring on price am pleasantly surprised. “We try to keep our prices very reasonable” Hayley tells me earnestly, “We think about what the average person might be able to afford and go with that.” A refreshing pricing policy indeed, I think as I inspect a pair of near-perfect leather boots on offer for only £10. I ask about bestsellers, “The Christmas jumpers all went out straight away, 40s and 50s dresses normally get sold within the week too.”
Outside the Shop
Talk of Christmas brings us onto the other major component of the TMV repertoire: events. Bimonthly, TMV hosts the Vintage & Handmade Market at the Shire Hall in Chelmsford, an event which regularly attracts up to 600 visitors a time. Alongside the vintage clothing, accessories, jewellery and homeware the market now showcases local craftspeople and includes a tea room with the cupcakes of local bakery, Plum Fairy. Hooga, around the corner on Victoria Road, is the location for another regular TMV celebration: Hooga Boutique. These events include all the usual vintage offerings plus live singers, retro bands and DJs and burlesque dancing, the next one will also include a Christmas market and hair and make-up styling sessions. An ingenious party service is also on offer, for groups of six or more, where for £10 each customer receives exclusive after-hours use of the shop, drinks and nibbles and 20% off anything they buy.
If the friendly welcome, high quality stock and shockingly reasonable prices aren’t enough to entice you in then a chance to try something on in the changing room papered with old knitting patterns and crochet press articles or to keep Hayley to her promise that she, ‘Likes to negotiate a good deal for people,’ should be. I can’t recommend TMV highly enough, and if you can leave without buying anything, well that makes one of us.
Truly Madly Vintage
160 Moulsham Street
Tel: 01245 287 961
10th December The Vintage and Handmade Market @ Shire Hall
17th December Hooga Boutique @ Hooga