Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore
Situated on a busy stretch of Peachtree where parking is scarce, vintage boutique My My My is geared toward foot traffic—tourists staying at nearby hotels, passersby en route to Starbucks or the Vortex. Fortunately, retro mannequins with full heads of hair and colorful getups are proven traffic stoppers.
“There are many ways to say ‘my, my, my,’” says owner John Sam, a former eBay aficionado whose collection of vintage and “vintage-inspired” wares resembles the kind of treasure-filled wardrobe a glamorous grandmother might compile. Fur coats, polyester suits, flouncy A-line dresses, ornate costume baubles—these are items worn to elicit a reaction. “I tell customers, ‘If you’re not comfortable in it, it’s not going to work.’ But you can tell when a woman glows in a piece and it’s right on time,” he says.
The twist at My My My is that many items have been updated. A purely vintage piece might hang next to a new design riffing off the old or a new cut of an old fabric. Alterations are often necessary, as women have grown bigger over the decades. (Only the most petite woman could fit into the museum-quality late-nineteenth-century jacket that’s selling for $225.) And inevitably garments fall apart. Sam, who for years designed jewelry out of an AmericasMart showroom, recently salvaged shredded fabric from the 1920s by fashioning it into a bib necklace.
The other twist is that customers can haggle for the price. Sam and co-owner Cynthia Salinas work directly with a manufacturer in India for the new items and a costume designer in L.A. for the old, some of which have been featured on TV soaps. This allows them some flexibility. “You see ‘sale’ signs all the time at stores, and I don’t know about you, but I always end up disappointed,” says Salinas, a former CNN producer who handles the shop’s marketing and website. “This way we don’t have to traipse around marking things down.”
But before you go haggling for a string of pearls to go with that fifties cocktail number, remember that vintage styles are often most striking when paired with something current. “You don’t want to look like you walked out of your grandmother’s closet,” Sam says—even if she is glamorous. “Well, I do,” counters Salinas. “My grandma was real skinny.”
900 Peachtree Street, Suite 100-A, 404-549-3302, mymymyatl.com
This article originally appeared in our March 2010 issue.