Friday, 14 March 2014

Vintage Shopping in New York City

So, we're nothing if not punctual. We went to New York for my 30th birthday last April, and only now am I getting around to writing my blog post about it! We did a bit of vintage shopping in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and bought some nice pieces for ourselves and for you, which are now available to buy in our ASOS boutique.

As always, this isn't meant to be a definitive guide to vintage shopping in this amazing city, it's just a little look at some places we visited and enjoyed, which you might want to check out if you are heading to the Big Apple. We found that the prices for vintage were very variable, in fact quite a few of the shops were really rather expensive. As always we were on the hunt for maximum bargains, and those don't seem to be as easy to come by as you might expect. It's not hard to find vintage in New York, but it is a little harder to find those affordable gems, so we were glad that before we went we studied a few great guides that we found online: Broke In The City, Business Insider's 12 Best Flea Markets and Time Out's Best Vintage Stores.

In Manhattan we found that a lot of the vintage and consignment shops tend to be quite upscale and pricey, ideal if you are hunting down a designer handbag or something but less good for cheap vintage bargains. We were impressed with the East Village Thrift Shop though (186 2nd Ave, between 11th and 12th St), where we managed to pick up some good kitsch t shirts, and a few designer dresses for reasonable prices.  I'm sure there are a lot of other great vintage treasure troves on Manhattan that we just didn't get a chance to track down, please comment with any tips you can share!

Something that you really should check out but unfortunately we ran out of time to see is the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, which is on every Saturday and Sunday all year at West 39th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues. We have spoken to several friends who highly recommended it.

Brooklyn is definitely the honeypot of vintage in NYC. Every other shop seems to be a vintage shop, and it's lots of fun to explore as each one has its own unique vibe, though the prices and quality are variable. Beacon's Closet (88 North 11th St) is one of the big names in vintage, a place that all of our friends recommended to us before we went to New York. Was is good? We have no idea, we were, ahem, slightly distracted by the sweet smell of Brooklyn Brewery just a stone's throw away. Sorry. We'd recommend the brewery though, they do a great free tour! By the time we finished there we were running late to meet friends for dinner and had to skip Beacon's Closet, which was a shame. A good reason to go back though, right?

A couple of shops in Brooklyn that we particularly enjoyed (and they are right next to each other, bonus!) were Junk (500 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn) and Buffalo Exchange (504 Driggs Avenue). Junk pretty much does what it says on the tin, it's a living example of that old adage, one man's junk is another man's treasure! There is a good mix of furniture, homewares, books, some clothes and all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff, none of which was expensive. It's the kind of place that makes you wish you had an apartment in Brooklyn just so you could fill it with all kinds of odd stuff.

Buffalo Exchange is actually a US chain of shops which sell vintage and used clothing, people can bring in their old clothes and sell them for cash or store credit. We found the prices were the best here of all the places we visited, and the staff were ultra friendly, recommending other shops we should check out and nearby spots for lunch. All the stock was presented really nicely and we picked up some lovely pieces for ourselves, including a wicker handbag for $11.

Finally, we checked out the Brooklyn Flea.We actually found it a bit disappointing, as we found that while there was lots of lovely stuff, the majority of it was sooo expensive! Still nice for a look around though,

So, what treasures did we pick up in NYC? Apart from a few pieces we have sold at vintage fairs, the New York haul is now available to buy on ASOS Marketplace, and we have an amazing David Bowie T Shirt on eBay. So even if you can't get over there yourself and get shopping you can have a little vintage slice of the big apple from us.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Valentines Gift Ideas From Minimum Mouse

Whether you love or loathe it, Valentine's Day is looming. So, if you're feeling the love, here are a few picks from our collection that should suit your mood! Our love charm necklaces are based on vintage designs and are currently a bargainous £4 (yes, really!) in our eBay store, perfect to treat someone or treat yourself. These love heart scarves are super cute and add a breath of fresh air to an outfit, and is also a super bargain at just £4.50. Complete the look with some Lolita style heart shape sunnies (or is that taking things too far? Surely not!) for just £6. How romantic!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Spring Vintage Fairs

I was looking through my diary today and I can't quite believe how busy we're going to be over the next month or so! We have signed up for more vintage fairs than we have ever done in a month, spanning from Canterbury to Leeds, including lots of student union weekday fairs. We can't wait to get on the road and bring our new season vintage stock and new jewellery lines to a town near you. For more information please visit Lou Lou's Vintage Fairs and University Vintage Fairs. Don't spot your town? Don't worry, we have loads more dates in the pipeline for March and beyond, so we'll keep you updated. Hope to see you soon!

Saturday 1st - Lou Lou's Derby Vintage Fair, The Assembly Rooms, 12-5pm
Sunday 2nd - Lou Lou's Cardiff Vintage Fair, City Hall, 11-5pm
Monday 3rd - University Vintage Fairs at University of Kent Student Union, 12-5pm
Tuesday 4th - University Vintage Fairs at Canterbury Christ Church University, 12-5pm
Thursday 6th - University Vintage Fairs at University of Bath, 12-5pm
Saturday 8th - Lou Lou's Southampton Vintage Fair, The Guildhall, 12-5pm
Sunday 9th - Lou Lou's Birmingham Vintage Fair, The Town Hall, 12-5pm
Monday 10th - University Vintage Fairs at Leicester De Montford Student Union, 12-5pm
Tuesday 11th - University Vintage Fairs at Leicester University Student Union, 12-5pm
Thursday 13th - University Vintage Fairs at University of Surrey Student Union, 12-5pm
Saturday 22nd - Lou Lou's Peterborough Vintage Fair at The Town Hall, 12-5pm
Sunday 23rd - Lou Lou's Leeds Vintage Fair at The Town Hall, 11-5pm
Tuesday 25th - University Vintage Fairs at Reading University Student Union, 12-5pm

Saturday 1st - Lou Lou's Bristol Vintage Fair at The Passenger Shed, 11-5pm
Sunday 2nd - Lou Lou's Bournemouth Vintage Fair at The Pavillion, 11-5pm
Monday 3rd - University Vintage Fairs at Warwick University Student Union, 12-5pm

Monday, 13 January 2014

Vintage Shopping in Amsterdam

First of all, happy new year! Hope you all had lots of fun over Christmas and New Years and are all set for a fantastic 2014.

We saw in the new year in Amsterdam, which has firmly placed itself as one of my favourite European cities. It's easy to get to from the UK (we flew KLM from Birmingham, handy!) it's really easy to get around, there is loads of culture to soak up, cosy bars and restaurants everywhere and amazing shopping. We managed to spend a little time checking out the vintage shopping and thought we would share.

This is by no means an exhaustive guide to vintage shopping in Amsterdam, as there is a lot of vintage out there and we were only there a few days. In fact, on the Saturday after we left there was the giant monthly flea market called IJ-Hallen, which sounds amazing. I had read about it on Thrift-ola's blog - we will definitely need to go back to check that one out!

First up, the nine streets area. This is one of the best shopping spots in Amsterdam, it is a network of nine small streets which is jam packed full of lovely independent shops selling everything from cheese to a shop that just sells men's socks. There are a number of great vintage shops worth checking out here, such as Zipper and Bijons. Here I found the prices to be pretty much comparable to a lot of UK vintage shops, probably a little cheaper than most London vintage shops. There was also an amazing vintage opticians selling amazing vintage specs!
The amazing ceiling in Zipper
Another fun shop we visited was Vijzel on Vijzelstraat, where James found an amazing snakeskin coat (which thankfully he did not buy!) Love their retro Mac display!
We also visited the Waterlooplein market, which is a large mixed market rather than a specific flea market, but had a number of interesting vintage stalls. It is an easy walk from the Waterlooplein tram stop.
Here the prices were very reasonable, such as coats for 15 euro! Also in this area are a couple of interesting vintage shops, Retro & Chic 1953, a really lovely teeny tiny boutique that is crammed with mid century gems, and Episode which offers a huge array of stock.

Also here is Out Of The Closet, a US AIDS charity which has set up its first shop outside the US. Here we found a big range of products, varying from modern second hand items to some nice vintage pieces, and they had a 1 Euro Rail - definitely worth a look!
Finally, I must mention a shop that isn't really vintage at all, but is amazing. My favourite shop of all was Kitsch Kitchen, on Rozengracht, an amazing two story treasure trove of retro, colourful and downright crazy bits and bobs for the home. Such as a Spongebob pinata, because you never know when you might need one of those...
So it's fair to say that we fell in love with Amsterdam a little bit, so we can't wait to visit again and do some more exploring soon!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Minimum Mouse at Clothes Show Live 2013

Last Thursday we set up camp at Clothes Show Live at the NEC for the third year running, for another crazy week of fashion madness. Since we are Birmingham based, Clothes Show is pretty much a home from home for us, but we never cease to be amazed by the size and scale of the event. It really is huge, with different areas such as the new 'Vintage Avenue', the Beauty Hall, Style Boutique and our home, the Offbeat Boutique. And it's busy. Busy, busy, busy! The whole place gets packed out with fashion hungry ladies hunting for a bargain.

We had lots of fun at the event as usual, with people loving our jewellery lucky dip, and James's amazing leopard print suit. We also managed to cram in some shopping, picking up bargains at Models Own, Barry M, Bomb Cosmetics, and having a good old rummage in the vintage area, where James picked up an amazing printed shirt from Trunk Junkies Vintage.

Can you tell which one is the real Alex?

James modelling our furry leopard print hat

Alex's face was everywhere, she even made it into the official show guide!

Steph and Alex ready to serve!
Lucky Dip at the ready!
Girls getting a go on the Lucky Dip in exchange for joining our mailing list.
We spotted a few celebs too, Proudlock from Made in Chelsea had a stand just a stone's throw away from us, and we saw Amy Childs and Jamie from Made in Chelsea about the place and Misha B from X Factor bought some sunglasses from us. We also saw Caryn Franklin speak about her new initiative to promote healthier attitudes about beauty in the fashion industry, which was really interesting. We even had our stand filmed for an S4C children's programme which is airing on Friday (Tag at 5pm if you're interested!)

Caryn Franklin speaking in the Heat Radio area

Welsh TV channel S4C filming on our stand.

As usual, the show in the fashion theatre was a highlight. This year's theme was 'a weekend in the country' and it was the usual blend of catwalk and dance with some amazing clothes and dazzling lights. So much fun!

So after our crazy week, today we're catching up on sleep and taking it easy. But we're pleased to announce that we have already confirmed for 2014, so hopefully we will see you all there next year!
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