How a Pair of Retro Running Shorts Led Me to the Hottest Shopping Spot in Town
In between spending entirely too much time re-watching old episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, eating more hot dogs and smoking more cigarettes than my oncogenes would prefer, working full time, and trying to keep up with the unreasonable expectations I set for myself, I somehow discovered that I like to run.
It was something that happened in a very spur-of-the-moment way on a Sunday night early last spring and since I’d downloaded one of the free Couch25K apps on my phone some time before, I turned it on, pumped in some tunes from my Spotify, and hit the ground hard and fast with Week One Day One of an eight week program that I still haven’t completed some seven months later. In spite of the fact that I’ve yet to reach my full potential as a runner, I have really enjoyed the process, and somewhere along the way developed a daily yen for the weird exhilaration that hits when the endorphins kick in and my nightly run is completed.
Since I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy, I immediately began seeking all the gear necessary to make the endeavor a little more of a growing enjoyment. I got a new pair of ear buds and continue to look for other types that will work more effectively. I got the shoes and the running socks and I can’t wait to wear them out. The arm band I bought to hold my house key and iPhone is already fraying at the Velcro edges, and I created a playlist unique to the experience — something that leads me to having a montage of pictures in my brain of the images I have for myself as a legendary track star (in my own mind, of course).
The image I latched onto is incredibly retro, a sort of late seventies/early eighties summer camp counselor look that constantly tops his own personal best with every consecutive run.
Think Little Darlings.
Think Wet Hot American Summer.
Think the appropriate shorts would be easy to find?
You’d be wrong.
When my searches at Amazon and Overstock and sports store websites proved fruitless, I found that a Google image search produced the very pair I that I wanted and needed. Unfortunately, the Kelly green Adidas track shorts with white piping running vertically up the sides haven’t been mass produced in many years, and the only ones I found had to be ordered from overseas.
This is where Derick Jones and Evan Stevens come in, and to quote the Coen brothers, Olive Street Thrift & Vintage “seemed like the solution to all of [my] problems and the answers to all of [my] prayers.”
With a combined 18 years of retail experience between the two, Jones and Stevens acquired the space at 444 Olive Street in Shreveport to open their establishment in December of 2013. Nearly a year later, the shop is one of our town’s greatest recent additions to commerce and community around. The management experience of this dynamic team is quickly bringing Olive Street Thrift & Vintage to the forefront of the city’s avant garde, and their combined keen eyes for detail create something of a mighty dual ownership.
And at Olive Street Thrift & Vintage, it’s all about duality.
“We have two sides to our business,” said Jones, the former Entertainment Editor for The Shreveport Times who was with Gannett for two years before leaving to become more involved with his investment. “Olive Street Thrift & Vintage is unlike anything else in Shreveport. We have a passion for community and passion for vintage. We know that both can coincide, so by offering two experiences under one roof, we’re able to gain multiple levels of customers.”
The store’s proprietors try to shine a light on their vintage side. “We carry an assortment of clothing from the 1940′s to the 1990′s, and yes, the early nineties are now considered vintage,” Jones admitted. Their vintage wares include “shoes, purses, jewelry, and other women’s merchandise. We also have a men’s section and children’s. We carry vintage and local art for sale. We also have costumes, though many aren’t vintage.”
Jones suggests that with Halloween right around the corner, shoppers come by their spot for a variety of ideas. “We’ve been able to combine items from both sides of our store to create some pretty amazing looks. We also have an ODDITORIUM full of unique items that don’t necessarily fit into anything, like dolls with no eyes. Many of the items customers will see in our vintage area have been purchased by us, and some have been donated. We’re moving to have those more differentiated for a better customer experience. We believe they should know where their money is going, and that’s important.”
On the thrift side of the shop, Jones and Stevens offer discounted clothing, books starting at less than one dollar each, housewares, DVDs and old VHS tapes, children’s items, and a seemingly endless list of motley accoutrements.
According to Jones, the vintage “side of the store is generated through items given to us. Since we are not a 501(c)3 non-profit, we’re unable to provide tax receipts to our customers, but they don’t mind. They continue to bring items to our store because they enjoy seeing them reused. Plus, we give a portion of sales from all donated items to a different non-profit in the area each month as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for all that they do. We choose a different non-profit to help out each month, and, in turn, we gain new support, new followers, and new donors. And many of them keep coming back even after their non-profit’s fundraiser is over.”
Giving back and being a part of things in Shreveport’s ever-burgeoning creative community is important to both Derick and Evan, something noted in their initial investment in the property, which was closing prior to their purchase. “Simply put, we didn’t want to see it go,” said Jones. “Neither of us had any prior business knowledge or expertise when it comes to owning your own business. We knew it was important to stay in Highland because we wanted there to be an alternative to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Something that was locally owned was important to us, and we saw the benefits.”
Shrewd business ideals and yens to foster a greater sense of community aside, Olive Street Thrift & Vintage is a remarkable place. One would likely be hard-pressed to find just one must-have item. The whole building is replete with endless possibilities.
“Our merchandise is all over the place,” explained Derick. “We continuously stock vintage clothing and housewares. Since the majority of our thrifted items are donated, we never really know what we might have in stock. Most of our thrift items are under ten dollars, but our vintage side ranges up to three hundred or more. Many of our vintage clothing items are under forty bucks, and we try to keep all prices reasonable. We determine the value of clothing by not only its style and label, but by the effort it takes for us to go out, shop, clean, and photograph each item.”
Thank whatever karmic balance that was working to Shreveport’s advantage when these guys came along and snatched this place up! They’ve really got their fingers and their eyes on the pulse of something that just simply works.
Whether you’re in the market for interesting housing decor, unique gifts for friends and family, or something really special to wear this Halloween, Olive Street Thrift & Vintage has it.
And if they don’t, they can get it.
Even if you’re the guy looking for a pair of retro running shorts to satisfy your campy dream of feeling (and looking?) like a new version of Steve Prefontaine while out there trying to conquer your first 5k.