Back to the Future 

New vintage shop sells contemporary chic.

In the world of thrift, there are the casual devotees, and then there are the self-described junkers: collectors like Kristen Rutschman and Dale McNeil.

Rutschman and McNeil are co-owners of Light Years Vintage, a store on South Cooper near Nelson that opened last November. Both Memphis natives have experience in vintage clothing and, perhaps more importantly, the courage to go beyond the call of duty.

"We go everywhere: podunk towns, rag houses where you can buy by the pound," says McNeil. "And then there was that one time in Los Angeles."

The couple, following an Internet lead, found themselves at a suburban home.

"As soon as you stepped inside, the smell hit you, like something here is really wrong," says Rutschman. The homeowner had vintage clothes in her house, but she also had several hundred snakes.

The duo has dealt in vintage clothes for over six years after a trip to Japan (where a pair of vintage Levis can sell for $600) inspired them to try Internet sales. "We started out buying for clients overseas," says McNeil.

The couple considered opening a store in Los Angeles but found the market saturated and the real estate pricey. "Memphis, by comparison, didn't really have anything that was selling to the youth market," says McNeil. After the Cotton Exchange, a vintage store in Cooper-Young, closed last year, the couple felt there was a vintage void in Memphis.

The two acknowledge that there is some competition, but they are not worried. "We're trying to do something that is very different from the aesthetic of a store like Flashback, which has an older, very definite period feel," says Rutschman.

The store gives the couple a home base, but they still act as buyers for independent clients.

"There are certain items we have that wouldn't sell in Memphis. This isn't the kind of town where you can sell a T-shirt for $400," says Rutschman. However, they encourage customers to make requests because of their experience in acquiring specialty vintage items.

Light Years features a wide selection of clothes and accessories, but specializes in vintage rock T-shirts. "The stuff that designers like Marc Jacobs and Chloe are selling is basically borrowed from exactly the kind of stuff we have, except we charge one-tenth the price of designer clothes," says McNeil. "Plus, if our stuff has lasted 30 years, you know the quality has to be pretty good."


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Crosstown, Greensward, and U of M

      Crosstown open pushed back, money flows to Greensward project, and U of M board meets
    • Campus Crime

      TBI findings show a decrease in sexual assault


News Blog

Alexander to TVA: Don't Buy Wind Power

Intermission Impossible

Hattiloo Announces Season 12: August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, Soul Train...

News Blog

Memphis Theological Seminary Stands with Refugees

News Blog

Fight Over Forrest Statue Isn't Over

Fly On The Wall Blog

Remembering the "Miracle Child" Robert Raiford

Memphis Gaydar

Bathroom Bill Halted in TN Legislature

News Blog

RIP Robert Raiford

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (March 23-29)


More by Ben Popper

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation