Sunday, August 29, 2010
Vintage Tour of Missouri: St Louis' The Bale Out
The Bale Out has the largest selection of vintage clothing in St Louis (and probably the largest in the midwest) with the most affordable prices. I had the pleasure of getting an exclusive tour of the store and appointment-only room and learned the story behind St Louis' best vintage clothing store.
The Bale Out is located on the 4th floor of the St Louis City Museum, which is an incredible place to visit!
About the Museum
The City Museum used to be the International Shoe Company but was opened to the public as a family oriented fun house in 1997.
The creative director of the City Museum is artist, Bob Cassilly who used recyclables to create the rich, urban wonderland that is the City Museum. Every detail of the museum from ceiling to floor has been decorated with found objects.
There is a wall made of ketchup bottles, a wall made of cafeteria serving containers, fabric hanging from the ceiling to create this icy under-water ballroom.
Pj, Amanda and Olivia love the kaleidoscope hallway.
It is an incredible place to visit! Tunnels of coiled metal snake through the museum so parents and kids can climb through. And, you gotta love the bus hanging half-way off the roof! While visiting the museum, tucked away on the 3rd floor is a small wire staircase leading to Vintage Heaven: The Bale Out!
The Bale Out has acquired over 600 bales of vintage clothing from a building that could no longer store the clothes. How much is a bale of vintage? That's 1500-2000 garments per bale. The bale is about half the size of a queen sized bed. So imagine, 600 bales, 2000 garments per bale that's 1,200,000 vintage garments waiting to find a loving home. Unbelievable, I know!
Employees of this shop (only a handful of them) constantly open new bales, sort the clothes, wash them, inspect and grade them according to the condition of the garment and price them. Natasha showed us some of the funny things that she finds in jacket pockets while inspecting the clothing. She found a pay stub from the 1970's from a man who only made about $4 an hour. Another time, she found a very old Diet Coke bottle cap and once she was lucky enough to find a quarter! I can't imagine what a fun but over whelming job that would be! Some garments go in the store to sell to the general public and some stay in the Appointments-Only room. Vintage clothing dealers and enthusiasts can make an appointment to shop this room, which is loaded with beautiful vintage coats, jackets, children's' clothing, skirts (including a few amazing authentic poodle skirts) and more items than I can even begin to mention. The wonderful thing about the Bale Out is that you will find items from every era. The appointment room has so many exquisite dresses, coats, jackets and skirts from our favorite eras. We even spotted a beautiful vintage red wool jacket by Chanel! Here are a few pics of the Appointment Only room....
This jacket was one of my favorites!
Meanwhile, back in the shop items are neatly sorted according to clothing type. The volume of inventory at the Bale Out is so large that they couldn't possibly sort it any other way but they do pull out a few of the really amazing items to display on a special rack up front.
containers bursting with vintage scarves
Here, you will find skirts, dresses, blouses, men's clothing, kids clothing, coats and so much more starting at $1. Yes, I'm serious!
The dress rack reaches from one end of the store to the other. Incredible!
Check out these beautiful vintage swimsuits:
The front of the store currently displays winter scarves and sweaters as well as some men's items and racks of lovely dresses and skirts.
The urban recycled decor of the City Museum stretched up into the Bale Out. Notice the wall made of glass bottles in the back? What a cool place to shop!
Inventory changes every day as new treasures are discovered in the bales. You could easily spend all day in the Bale Out and not see everything for sale. The Bale Out is currently working on re-vamping the store with new signs, store displays and more. I can't wait to see it when it's all finished! :) For those of you who are not in the St Louis area, if you ever visit, the Bale Out is a must-see!
You can follow the Bale Out sales and events on facebook or twitter. Visit them at their website here.
Here we are, leaving the museum with Olivia and our bags of goodies!
Thank you so much to Natasha for having us and showing us around the store!
I'll be posting lots of pictures of my Bale Out finds very soon! Stay Tuned.....