One person’s bedroom, another person’s vintage haven

By HermineBloom

Most women recruit their closest girlfriends for a bucket of chocolate chip ice cream and a night of watching The Notebook after the demise of their long-term relationships. Others, namely Christine Bejasa, take a more proactive approach when it comes to post break-up recovery.

Bejasa, a Columbia alumna, rounded up two of her closest girlfriends to transform her ex’s old bedroom in their once-shared Pilsen apartment into an affordable, vintage clothing shop called The Sometimes Store, 913 W. Cullerton Ave., which is only open sometimes due to their busy schedules.

In an effort to combine their collective love of vintage fashion and their creative writing endeavors, Christine Bejasa, Alysse Dalessandro and Kirsten Kilponen decided to revamp Bejasa’s ex’s space, dig into their personal collections, family thrift stores in the city and Kilponen’s vintage eBay store to create an independent business, that was designed to fund their up-and-coming online media magazine called Oh Really.

“Both projects really rely on each other,” said Bejasa, who’s now the special projects coordinator at Venus Zine and an intern for Thrill Jockey Records, located at 1501 W. 18th St. “It’s not even something that we predicted would happen, but it did and it’s working out wonderfully for us.”

All three ladies met at Venus Zine—a publication that primarily covers women in music, arts and culture—as interns, where they discussed story ideas and quirky, hilarious instances that Venus Zine typically might not cover on their daily lunch breaks, Bejasa explained.

Ideally, they imagined their publishing project as one without advertisements and appealing to a certain demographic. What started as a theoretical magazine snowballed into something that actually seemed feasible by hosting a one-time fundraiser or a glorified garage sale with “cuter stuff presented a million times cuter,” Bejasa said.

Having participated in several vintage trunk shows on her own at Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave., transitioning into selling clothes out of her ex’s space as an actual store rather than a one-time sale seemed natural for Bejasa. It was especially exciting after working together so well at Venus Zine, Kilponen added.

Now, The Sometimes Store has begun to host themed monthly sales and the ladies encourage customers to set up personal shopping appointments, selling everything from sequined dresses to acid-washed jeans to leotards. The next sale is a “goth sale” in preparation for Halloween. Every black item is being sold for $6.66 on Oct. 17.

“It ranges from looking grandma to extremely classy and Hollywood to kind of dark and hip,” Bejasa said.

Dalessandro, who’s a senior journalism major at Loyola University, said her family members have even sent their old jewelry and clothes from decades past to show support for their creative business model.

Usually though, the girls draw from personal resources and thrift stores around the city.

“We all get a cart, we all disperse and we fill our carts to the point where you can’t even see us driving them,” Bejasa said. “Then we reconvene and pick the yes’s and no’s. [We ask], ‘Is this just something that you like or is this something that’s universally liked?’”

Instead of marking up the prices like most vintage stores in the city tend to do, the owners of The Sometimes Store sell all of their items for less than $15 each.

“We even go through and we repair any clothing that has holes in it and missing buttons,” Dalessandro said. “We wash all the clothing and we really present it. It’s not from a thrift store anymore.”

The prices are a “mere finder’s fee,” as Dalessandro likes to call it, which completely sets their store apart from other shops that carry similar clothes from different eras.

Because of the alternative, do-it-yourself nature of their business, they were given the opportunity to host their own booth at Renegade Craft Fair this past September, which helped gain exposure for The Sometimes Store.

Bejasa readily admits that the store’s hook relies on bouncing back from a failed relationship. She even offers genuine, insightful advice on positive post break-up behavior.

“I’m definitely not going to say that this is my How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” Bejasa said. “This is a project that was kind of born before we broke up and it was just convenient that [by] him leaving my life, he also left an excellent amount of real estate.”

The positive attitude behind creating such a store amidst the ghosts of boyfriends past is inspirational for those girls looking for ways to beat the break-up blues.

“I’m glad this is something that I do now because I don’t have time to worry about him and what he’s doing,” Bejasa admitted. “Also, it’s kind of like, ‘Well, what are you doing? What are people interviewing you about?’”

The Sometimes Store is located at 913 W. Cullerton Ave., at Peoria Street, first floor. Call (312) 243-1229 to set up an appointment. The next sale starts on Oct. 17.