Today I was on the prowl
with the costume designer
of a production of Little Shop of Horrors
that I am soon to be appearing in. Since the setting is late 1950
s, it makes perfect sense to shop for costumes rather than make them.
Our first stop was Revue
, an appropriately hip retro
store in the Westport
district of Kansas City
. We browsed for a while, finding pants
in the range of fifteen dollars, dresses anywhere from twenty to forty-five dollars, and so on. Bear in mind, these were clothes that had been previously owned and worn
clothes that were made to look like they had originated anywhere from the 1950s to the 1980
s -- these were used clothes out of someone's wardrobe.
Eventually, we made our way to a local thrift store
. No where near hip, no snazzy jazzy
name like Revue, no jaded-looking twentysomethings
working the register, no straight-from-the-Top 20
tunes playing. Instead, the look was no-nonsense, the name was Grand Street Thrift
, the employees were in their forties, and AM radio
So what did Revue and Grand Street Thrift have in common? The type of clothes they were selling. Only there was one more difference between the two, the key difference: at Grand Street Thrift, none of the clothes we purchased were over two dollars in price.
As an experiment, when we got to rehearsal with clothes in hand, I invited castmates to decide which clothes were thrift store and which were retro store -- no one was able to do so; in fact, all commented that it was useless to try, as the clothes were so similar.
I found it quite interesting that two simple words -- "retro" and "thrift" -- allowed for such a gulf in pricing. The power of semantics
never ceases to amaze me.