ABINGDON, Va. — More than half a century of memories and nostalgia will be on display at a vintage sale in Abingdon this weekend.
Helen Shupe, co-owner of Maxine’s, a ladies’ apparel shop that operated for 51 years in town, spent last Friday hanging dresses and arranging hats on shelves in preparation for the vintage sale of merchandise dating from the 1940s to 1980s.
Many of the apparel items were left over from when the landmark store closed in 1997.
The vintage sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at the former Style Shop on Porterfield Highway.
Shupe, 64, said organizing the store’s memorabilia is a bittersweet experience for her. She used to work at the clothing and bridal store along with her parents, Maxine and Donald Hilton, and the family lived in a residence next door to the business.
After holding a vintage sale four years ago, Shupe decided it was time to sell the remaining clothes that have been shuffled from one building to another since the business closed. After renting the store and the adjacent buildings for a number of years, the family sold the property on Courthouse Hill this spring.
“This takes me back,” said Shupe, as she pulled a charcoal grey dress adorned with decorative studs from a clothing rack to admire.
“This was one of my favorites dresses worn by my mother when I was a little girl. This dress came from her closet. I’ve saved just a few of her clothes, but for the ones I couldn’t, I hope someone else can enjoy them.”
Shupe eagerly pulled a long black velvet wrap with a rabbit hood hanging from the rack. “Mother wore this at James Madison University when she was a college student. Her name label, ‘Maxine Caifee,’ is still sewn inside the garment.
“Mother never threw anything away,” she said, laughing. “There’s certainly more than I thought we’d have to sell.
“Hats were a big item back then. We’re still unloading hats from their original boxes. I think I’m going to sell the hats and boxes separately.”
The boxes are as valuable as the hats, she said. One of the vintage hat boxes reads, “Knox, New York.”
There are also a few fox stoles to sell, a popular fashion statement before the anti-fur revolution in the 1990s.
“Actually, these animal furs were the first thing to go at our earlier sale,” she said.
In addition to dresses, formals, suits, coats, shoes and hats, the sale will include children’s toys and clothes, household items and other family belongings.
A display of her father’s neck ties and her mother’s scarves are arranged near a display of dolls that belonged to Shupe when she was a child.
“Here are my grandmother’s quilting and sewing fabrics and crocheted bedspreads from my father’s mother.”
Shupe has noticed more people are learning to appreciate the charm of vintage clothing and accessories.
Mollie Ailey, 32, has been attracted to vintage clothing for years.
“I love the quality of vintage clothing. I feel like they’re much better made and usually much more durable and longer-lasting. Even things made 50 years ago seem to be in better shape than clothing I bought a few months ago from a modern store,” said the Emory resident.
“I’m particularly drawn to clothing from the 1950s. I really like the styles and the tailored look of clothing from that time. Vintage clothes fit me better, too. The cotton A-line styles have a professional look,” Ailey said. She is a teacher at Marion Middle School.
“Also, I just love the colors and fabrics used in vintage clothing.”
It’s not uncommon for even teens to migrate to vintage wear.
“One mother and her teenage daughter bought clothing a few years ago for the daughter to wear. I have one young lady who bought suits and dresses to wear when she was in college,” Shupe said.
“Styles go out of style and come back around. Some of the things we used to call formal wear are worn as everyday clothes now.
“We sold a lot of mother-of-the-bride dresses back then. Something like this dress from the 1980s would still be a lovely dress for a wedding today.”
All of the items for sale carry an emotional power for her, especially one piece that carries a heartwarming story.
A wooden arbor and fence are among the household items for sale that came from her parent’s home. “The arbor was situated behind the Abingdon United Methodist Church during the ceremony when my parents married in 1943. The small white fence went around the chancel rail, too,” Shupe said.
“My guess is my parents handmade the arbor for their wedding day. I think it’s a special thing to own something that belonged to someone you remember,” she said.
“Perhaps, someone will value it as much as my parents did.”