Tag Archives: Asheville

Pollock’s Shoes, Asheville, NC

In my ongoing search for all things concerning hiking clothing, I found this ad in a 1926 issue of Everygirl’s, the Campfire Girls magazine.  I can’t resist looking at the lists of stores whenever they are a part of an ad, and I’m always interested to see if there was a store in Western North Carolina that offered the product.

In 1926 Cantilever Shoes could be bought at Pollock’s Shoes in Asheville.  I had read about Pollock’s in the great booklet, The Family Store, which tells about all the Jewish-owned businesses that could be found in Asheville in the twentieth century.  Pollock’s was owned by Lou Pollack, who according to his obituary, started the business in 1910.  In the 1920s the store was located on Patton Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Asheville.

There have been a lot of changes on Patton Avenue, including the loss of two entire blocks to parking lots, and much of another to a modern bank building.  Almost incredibly the old Pollock’s store has survived at 39 Patton Avenue, with some distinctive brickwork that can be seen in old photos still in place today.

I was a bit surprised when I looked up one day while walking on nearby Haywood Street, to see the Pollock’s name.

By studying old city directories, which can be found online, I found that for a period of time mainly during the 1940s, there was a second Pollock’s store.  Just by looking at the decoration on the exterior of the building, my guess is that it was a posher version of the old family oriented store.

The Haywood Street Pollock’s was sandwiched between the very nice Bon Marche department store, on the left, and Woolworth’s on the right.  The Bon Marche opened in 1937, and Woolworth’s in 1938, and my guess is that the Pollock’s space dates to the same time period.

Lou Pollock was famous for having a yearly Christmas party for children who needed shoes, and he must have given away thousands of pairs over the years.  Pollock retired from his store in 1939, but the Patton Avenue store was open at least until 1956, the last year I found it listed in the city directory.

I love this kind of urban exploration.  There are little bits of the past still to be found in brick and plaster, tile and signage.  It’s all a matter of keeping one’s eyes open.

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Filed under North Carolina, Shoes

Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

My husband likes to remind me that it’s not shopping unless you buy something.  Maybe I should have titled this post Vintage Looking, because I do I lot more looking than I do buying.  I have learned that one does not have to buy all the great stuff in order to appreciate it.

Still, I often second guess myself, and the early 1930s hat above is a good example of that.  I love everything about it except the green color and the fact that it would not fit in neatly with my other early 30s things.

I can’t help but think about how handy this non-electric clothes dryer would be, not to mention the energy saving factor.

I’m really not very tempted by old Coca-Cola items, but I do love to see how they portrayed women in their sports attire.  Seems to me this model would be better off with a mug of hot cocoa than with the Coke.

I could use a bit of help with this dressage helmet. Any equestrians reading this, please enlighten me.

I recently bought a fantastic riding suit from the late 1930s or early 40s, and I’m now looking for a helmet.  They are quite commonly found, but I have no idea on how to put a date on them except to look at the interior construction and at the materials used.  Newer ones often have faux leather straps and plastic findings.  Does this one look 1930s to you experts?

I really don’t need another pair of 1950s pants, but these were tempting, mainly because of the hang tag.

Blue Bell was manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Maybe I was wrong to leave them behind.

Also interesting is the line on the tag, “Ask for my Color Mate.”  It appears that they were also making matching separates.

I had never even heard of this Asheville business, H. Redwood & Co.  The address no longer exists, as that stretch of Patton Avenue was demolished in the 1960s for the construction of the Northwestern Bank Building (now the BB&T Bank Building).

A visit to Asheville is not complete for the vintage lover without a peek into Magnolia Beauregard.  It’s worth it just to see the owner’s collection of mannequins and hat heads.

For a very short time in the mid 1960s, the surfer shirt was all the rage for boys and girls.  I really don’t see a lot of them, but a seller at Metrolina in Charlotte had this one.  That label and hang tag are everything.

If this had been one size larger, and if I was sure I could get the discoloration out, I’d have bought this one to wear.  Again, look at that great hang tag.

And finally, I thought this was a camping kit, but the tag identified it as some officer’s mess kit during WWII.  Still, wouldn’t this be great for a bit of vintage auto camping?

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1960s Chanel-Inspired Davidow Jacket

I mentioned a few days ago that I lucked into a vintage pop-up shop on the streets of Asheville.  One of the great things about Asheville is that there are numerous little alleyways and side streets, many of which are not being well utilized, but which have great charm and potential.  In this case there is outdoor seating for a restaurant, but the space behind it was perfect for a temporary shop.

The business is called the Urban Gypsy, and the young woman who owns it does pop-ups in Asheville and Savannah.  What a perfect combination of cities!

After the disappointment of the very needy Bonnie Cashin I kept looking, hoping that lighten would strike twice.  That’s when I spotted a small group of tweed jackets.

There were a couple of jackets in shades of blue, and here is the one I choose.  I tried it on, and even the older man standing there waiting for his wife to finish up looking gave it a thumbs up.  It was truly a perfect fit.

The icing on the cake was the Davidow label.  Davidow was a high-end ready-to-wear label.  According to the research of Claire Sheaffer, Davidow made both Chanel-inspired suits and Chanel reproductions.  The reproductions actually used Chanel fabrics and in many cases, buttons.  My new jacket is probably of the inspired variety, but the wool plaid tweed is one mighty fine textile.

The jacket has bound buttonholes, something I’d be afraid to risk on such a loosely woven and bulky fabric.

The pockets are functional, and I love how they are cut on the diagonal.

I’m not 100% sure that the buttons are original, but the thread used to sew them does match the color of the lining.  The underside of the buttons is a mottled blue, which indicated these may have faded over time.  I’ll probably replace the buttons, as I bought this to wear and I want blue ones.  I will carefully save the old buttons.

Unfortunately, the lining proves once and for all that Southern women do actually sweat (as opposed to glisten).  The lining is a rayon faille, and is not as luxurious as I like.  Am I crazy for even considering replacing the lining with silk crepe de chine?

The seller found the jacket in Savannah, and it has a nice store label.  I can’t find a thing about Fine’s, but I do remember shopping there on a trip to Savannah in the mid 1970s.  At that time the store was located in a mall, as their downtown was in a downward slide.  Today downtown Savannah is a charming place with nice shops, most of which are local.

 

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Vintage Shopping in Asheville, NC

Over the past two weeks I’ve visited all my favorite vintage shopping places in Asheville.  To be such a small city, there are lots of interesting places to look for vintage treasures.  I actually took these photos over three days.  There is no way you can do justice to the old stuff stores of Asheville in just one day.

This record tree and the Santa ladder above can be found at The Screen Door.  This place is a little off the beaten path, but it is well worth finding.  It seems like no matter how often I go there, I find new things of interest.

I really liked this pretty equestrienne.

I actually found this Scottie print at a thrift store.  The thrifts in Asheville sometimes seem to be really picked over, but it is possible to still get lucky.

Click to enlarge.

There are several antique stores and malls downtown.  I’ve shown this fantastic store, Magnolia Beauregard’s, before but it is worth another look.  The collection of mannequins and hat heads is really impressive, plus he sells some great hats and vintage clothing.

Here’s an interesting twist on an old favorite: Pin the Shoe on Cinderella.

This is the cover of a 1920s tourist brochure for Glacier National Park.

Lexington Park Antiques is also a favorite of mine.  I found these cute 1950s clam diggers.  They were made by White Stag.  Note the striped lining where the leg is rolled.

This forearm looks a bit gruesome at first, but note that it is a display piece for Van Raalte gloves.  It actually stands on the base.

My photo comes nowhere near to showing off this lovely quilt, made of velvet pieces.

Time for a break.  This is the Mellow Mushroom, which is housed in an old service station.

These two coats were made by Davidow.  I was happy to be able to examine them so soon after writing about the company.

If I don’t stop with the vintage patterns, I’m going to have to get one of these vintage storage pieces.

The day after I took these photos of this Red Cross vest, one of my Instagram friends posted an old article on knitting a Red Cross Sweater.

Someone bought this Sally Victor flower explosion and didn’t have the nerve to wear it.  Or at least that’s my guess.  Anyway, it was fun seeing the hangtag.

And here I am, unable to pass a mirror without taking a look at my own image.  I’m wearing my favorite vintage coat, a Pendleton!

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Filed under North Carolina, Shopping

Christmas Windows, Asheville NC

I went to Asheville today to see what was “new” in my favorite vintage places, and also to check out the Christmas windows.   It had never occurred to me that Asheville might have great holiday windows, but I saw in the newspaper that there had been a design contest on the theme “A Star is Born,” and I felt I owed it to myself to see them.  I had no illusions that the Saks and Bergdorf’s and Macy’s windows were facing stiff competition, but for a small city like Asheville I thought the display was pretty impressive.

Over the past twenty years, the civic leaders in Asheville have worked hard to revitalize downtown.  After most of the stores and restaurants abandoned the area and relocated at the mall, downtown Asheville was a rather scary place.  Only a few stores were able to hold on.  But they did, and slowly they were joined by other urban pioneers.  Today downtown Asheville is a wonderful place to shop and eat.  Best of all, almost all the businesses are locally owned.

But enough bragging on my little city.  Here is a tour of some of my favorite windows.

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This window was made entirely of layers of cut paper.  It really was a showstopper.  Note that there is no product to be found!  This was one of the windows at
Sensibilities Day Spa.

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This sock monkey carolers window was at the yarn shop, Purl’s Yarn Emporium.

Windows are really hard to photograph, so I’m sorry about the quality of this one at clothing store, Caravans.

I cannot resist polar bears.

This is one of the windows at Spiritex, which is a clothing store.  All the clothing is made here in Western North Carolina.

This is one of four star windows at the Chevron Trading Post.   These stars are made of paper and they are stunning.

This is the window at Mountain Lights, which is a seller of locally made candles and crafts.

Hip Replacements had a retro theme and won the Judges’ Favorite prize.  They sell retro and vintage clothing.

I couldn’t help but notice that some of the most effective windows I saw today were the ones that featured only a few, or even one product.  Some of the windows that I did not photograph looked like windows from the turn of the 20th century where shopkeepers piled the windows high with as much merchandise as possible.  I think people are attracted to visual clutter (like the star windows) but the clutter has to make sense.   Trying to show everything in the shop is just confusing.

So, what are the holiday windows like in your corner of the world?

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Filed under Curiosities, Holidays, North Carolina, Shopping

The Vanderbilt Shirt Company, Part II

The slightly fuzzy girl in the photo is me, circa 1974.  It was taken by my boyfriend (now husband!)  at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  I chose this particular photo not to show off how short I was wearing my skirts in 1974, but because I made the top from fabric I bought at the Vanderbilt factory outlet.  At the outlet one could buy the finished products of the factory, and they also had a big bin of fabric pieces that were left over from their products.

I remember this fabric well because it was such a bear to sew.  It was a two way stretch knit that had a mind of its own.  The top is actually a bodysuit, and there is a zipper down the front.   And you can’t tell, but what looks like dots are actually ladybugs.  I loved that outfit.

Today my plea on my last post about Vanderbilt paid off.  My post was seen by Pat Purvis whose mother Helen Watts had worked for the company.  I was able to talk with Helen on the phone and got some great information about the company.

The Vanderbilt Shirt Company was started in 1946, and had no connection to the Vanderbilt family who built the Biltmore House.  As Mrs. Watts put it, people in Asheville just like to name things for Biltmore and the Vanderbilts.  The factory was located in downtown Asheville, on the corner of Walnut and Lexington in the building I showed last week.    In the late 1960s there was a fire, started by a homeless man who had gone into the building to stay warm.  Because of that, the owners built a new factory  where they relocated in 1969.

My biggest question was how was Vanderbilt shirt connected to Langtry, Ltd.  As it turns out, Langtry was a label that was actually started by the Vanderbilt Shirt Company.   Previous to this label they did contract sewing for other companies like Levis and they made shirts and jackets for the US military.  Most of the output of Langtry was women’s blouses, but they also made other women’s garments like dresses and jackets.  Mrs. Watts was not sure about where the name Langtry came from, but thinks that it probably was named for actress Lillie Langtry.

As American companies began to outsource part of the manufacturing process, Vanderbilt Shirt Company turned to Haiti.  For a while much of  their product was made in Haiti, and this led to the ultimate undoing of the company.  During the political unrest of the late 1980s following the ouster of the Duvalier dictators, the Vanderbilt factory in Port-au-Prince was destroyed along with all the machinery, the fabric and inventory.  It was a hard blow from which the company never truly recovered.

The company limped along in a smaller facility on French Broad Avenue, until the early 1990s when they finally declared bankruptcy.  

Before talking to Mrs, Watts, I just assumed that Langtry was just another victim of the flood of cheaper imported goods that was making it harder and harder for American manufacturers to compete.  How much more interesting the story turned out to be.

Many thanks to Pat and Helen.

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Filed under North Carolina, Textiles

The Vanderbilt Shirt Factory – Asheville, NC

One of the great things about living near a place like Asheville is the fun of playing tourist for a day.  We often get up to a day with nothing important on the agenda and take the drive into the city for lunch and window shopping.

Last week we were walking down a street passing by a favorite antique mall when I noticed the old sign above the door: “Vanderbilt Shirt Co. Inc.”  I’d seen the sign before and never given it a lot of thought.  At one time there were quite a few manufacturing businesses in the upper floors of Asheville retail establishments.  I can remember Vanderbilt from when I was a teen in the late 1960s and early 70s because they had a factory outlet that I loved to visit.  Suddenly, I was overcome with curiosity about the company.

I spent some time on the net, looking for information, and for a while I thought I was going to come up empty.  How is it that thriving businesses can close, and 20 years later there is little evidence that they ever existed?  Finally I found the transcription of an oral history interview in which the owners of the factory were mentioned.  Once I had their names, I got lucky.

Thanks to a project called The Family Store, there is a fairly good record of the Jewish businesses that flourished in Asheville in the early and mid 20th century.  Researchers Sharon Fahrer and Jan Schochet conducted interviews and compiled information about these businesses that was in danger of being forgotten.  In 2003 they interviewed Milton Lurey, who founded and owned the Vanderbilt Shirt Company along with his brother-in-law, Herb Wadopian.

Milton had been in the tire retread business, but it was dirty and smelly.  There was a small manufacturer of boy’s shirts next door, and it seemed like a pleasant place, so he sold the tire business and when into the shirt making business with Herb even though neither of them knew anything about making shirts.  They were able to get expert assistance when they found Evelyn Bookbinder, who had been a supervisor at a sewing factory.

They started by making men’s dress shirts, but before long they were doing contract work for other companies.  One of their big clients was Levi Strauss, for whom they made western style shirts.  They then made women’s shirts for Levis as well.  The interview does not give a good idea of dating, but it was probably in the early 1950s.  Around the same time they began making shirts and jackets for the US military.

After a fire the factory moved out of downtown to the outskirts of Asheville, where the business was located when I remember it.  The outlet was located in a fantastic old native rock building that was probably at one time a restaurant.   The outlet also sold blouses and dresses that were labeled Langtry, Ltd.  I’m not sure of the connection, but Langtry was located in Asheville on the same street as Vanderbilt, so it is possible that they contracted with the Vanderbilt factory.  At any rate, that outlet was my favorite place to shop for several years.  They not only sold clothing, but the leftover fabric from their lines.

I’m hoping the internet will not let me down, that someone who knows more of this story will stumble across this.  If that is you, please post a comment.

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