By Briana Savage
WASHINGTON — Mainstream retailers such as H&M, The Gap and Urban Outfitters might be some of the hottest clothing stores in the country but a flashy, hot-pink boutique with retro clothing in a trendy shopping district in northwest Washington is catching fire among some shoppers.
Annie Creamcheese, located on M Street in Georgetown, is a hip boutique catering to vintage enthusiasts on a budget.
It’s easy to find vintage remakes in commercial stores in the mall, but cheap authentic vintage is in high demand by lovers of earlier decades.
Garrett Bauman, co-owner of Annie Creamcheese, said people love vintage clothes because of their quality and originality.
“We’re not a store where people come to dress as part of the era” Bauman said.
Shopping at Annie Creamcheese might remind young women of playing dress-up in their mother’s or grandmother’s closets. Customers come looking for 50-year-old items that can be worn today.
In addition to selling unique inexpensive “vintage for the future,” Annie Creamcheese also features more expensive vintage fashion from well-known designers such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Missoni, Valentino, Ferragamo and Christian Dior. The store also has contemporary style clothing from emerging designers.
“Some items are relatively cheap, which is a great thing. But then again, the pricier items are worth the splurge,” said Rugiatu Jalloh, a frequent customer at Annie Creamcheese. “The economy has made me more aware of my money management. I used to prefer going to retail stores, but now I find more enjoyment in places where I know I’m saving.”
Overall retail sales have been rebounding. At apparel stores, in general, sales were up 12 percent in March compared with a loss of 5 percent the same time a year ago.
With the economy struggling to recover, many die-hard shoppers have had to transition from expensive retail stores to less expensive outlets where they must bargain shop. Annie Creamcheese has proved to be the answer to their prayers.
“We picked up a lot of new customers that never would’ve shopped with us, but now love us,” said Bauman.
Annie Creamcheese had its top grossing year in 2009, during the heart of the recession, Bauman said.
Unlike other stores, Annie Creamcheese has very unique demographics that range from 16 to 60 years of age. In recent years, celebrities including Betsey Johnson, Nicole Richie, Victoria Beckham and Joan Rivers also have started to shop at the Annie Creamcheese location in Las Vegas.
“The ideal shopper is a college girl who comes to the store on a budget. She wants to spend a little bit of money but she has her eye on something she loves. She may receive birthday money or a tax return, and then she decides to splurge,” Bauman said.
Annie Creamcheese might also be considered a vintage consignment store. The buyers select distinct and gently worn items from customers, and sell them in their store. It’s an opportunity for someone who needs some extra cash or someone excited about saving the environment by recycling clothes.
“The pieces I find from Annie Creamcheese are sure to be oldies but goodies,” said shopper Jalloh.
Although the ‘80s trend might not be for everyone, Annie Creamcheese is undeniably ideal for anyone interested in quality vintage and contemporary pieces. Bauman said it is especially important to create a unique shopping experience for all types of customers.
“One of the most important things is great clothes and great service with a great atmosphere,” Bauman said.