Friday, December 10, 2010

Q and A: Hella Tuff

When New Columbia Heights posted the details of a new vintage shop opening in the neighborhood, I felt so out of the loop! But I quickly tracked down the fashionista-in-charge to find out more about Hella Tuff Basement Boutique, the vintage cavern that opens this weekend with a shopping party. Here's a little Q and A with vintage queen Jessica Louise Dye.

QL: How did you choose a location for Hella Tuff? Are you moving from a previous location, or is this a brand new venture?

JLD: The new location for Hella Tuff is actually in the basement of my home, which is owned by local photographer (and my boyfriend) Joel Didriksen of Kingpinphoto.  I was previously set up in a warehouse space called Paper Sun.  Before the live-in shops, I hosted several monthly events around the city in local bars, bringing the vintage to the booze.  Eventually I hope to have an official storefront, but for now I am happy to continue embracing the DIY attitude.

QL: What's your vintage background? Were you raised on hand-me-downs like I was, or are you newer to the scene?

JLD: As an only child I unfortunately was never lucky enough to score some awesome hand-me-downs.  I did however idolize the fashion of my grandparents’ era.  Some of my favorite pieces actually once belonged to my grandmother and my mom.  I simply didn't relate to the fashion trends of the 1990's or early 2000's so I incorporated vintage pieces to let my own personality shine through.  I thrifted all through high school and turned clothing items purchased for school plays into everyday outfits.

QL: What's with the funky hours? Is this a side gig for you?

JLD: Ha!  Yes, the hours are odd huh?  I was actually just laid off from my job so this may change.  I was trying to keep the shop open during band rehearsals since the space is both studio and store.  I plan to host bi-monthly events that are open to the public featuring local musicians and DJs.  All other hours will be appointment only.

QL: What are your favorite sources for inventory—thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales? Do you offer consignment at all or do you choose everything on your own?

JLD: I can't tell you all my secrets but I l do love the thrift stores on 1/2 off days.  I specifically seek out estate and yard sales though because I am more interested in the story behind an article of clothing.  It's great to be able to have a conversation with a 70-year-old women about her collection of vintage Coach bags, which one she got for which anniversary or holiday, ya know?  I mostly shop locally but I have some secret spots in Arizona and Ohio that I like to visit to stock up at.

Hella Tuff is not a typical consignment shop, so you do not wait for your items to sell before you get cash or store credit. We selectively buy, sell & trade clothing and accessories by appointment only. We offer your choice of 35% cash or 55% store credit of the selling price of each item we accept. We compensate you for your items on the spot, so you will leave Hella Tuff with your choice of cash, traded clothing, or a gift certificate that you can use anytime, on anything.

QL: Do you have a favorite era of vintage that you hope to highlight?

JLD: Goodness, this changes month to month depending on what jackpots I find.  Right now I am fully stocked on men's 1970s shirts, women's fur coats from the 1950s, women's blazers from the 1980s, women's blouses from the 1950s and more sweaters from every era than I know what to do with.  I also have some great knick-knacks, old phones, typewriters, vintage house wares and kitchen sets.  I think it's safe to say I have something for everyone.

QL: How would you rate your shop regarding menswear? A lot of guys ask me where to shop. Would you recommend your own store for the men in our lives?

JLD: I think my men's section is perfect for the fashionable male who is looking for unique items and isn't afraid to mix and match timeless pieces.  I have a fairly wide range of sizes and unusual items like vintage bow ties and 1960's knit shirts (very Beatles).  I also take requests, if you know of something you would like, I can probably find it for you.


Hella Tuff is located at 1200 Fairmont St. NW. You can find hours and details on Facebook.


Post a Comment