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A passion for vintage

Sherry King's store has everything from party dresses from the '50s to pantaloons from the late 1800s.

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
Sherry King owns Sherry's YesterDaze Vintage Clothing & Antiques on S MacDill Avenue. Her 3,500 square-foot-boutique is packed with vintage clothing, antiques, collectibles and pop art. She works with 13 vendors and numerous people who consign vintage clothing.

By JENNIFER L. STEVENSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 8, 2002


PALMA CEIA -- Sherry King failed history. Twice. Odd it may seem, then, that she surrounds herself with days gone by.

King merely shrugs.

History is not about facts, but about a feeling.

Touch a midnight blue satin hat or a whisper silk wedding gown.

That's history.

"It's very sensual," King says and sighs.

Step into her vintage clothing store on MacDill Avenue and you step into a time machine.

Fancy some pantaloons from the late 1800s? King has them. Dig a groovy dress from the '60s? It's good bet she has it to go-go.

Her collection is vast because King's true passion is the hunt. She beams at the mention of a shopping trip.

Ahead are thrift stores, antique stores and other vintage stores to scout.

"Attics, closets, trunks and garages!" says King, who owns Sherry's YesterDaze Vintage Clothing & Antiques. "I love scrounging. It's the thrill of discovery."

So exciting is the process that King can't name the best item she's ever found.

"The find is so paramount with me," she says. "So it's the thing I've found today. I love it all."

There's much for her to love in her 3,500 square-foot-boutique, packed with everything from postcards to pop art. One room is devoted to clothes while another is devoted to furniture and collectibles. A separate building displays more furniture, china, and silver. She works with 13 vendors, most of whom work in the second building and pay rent.

She also works with numerous people who consign vintage clothing. When she sells it, she collects 50 percent of the price tag.

The consignments are a new way to find vintage clothes.

"They find me!" she laughs. "So much walks through the door to me. It's made me very lazy."

Hardly.

She almost never takes a day off. Officially she is "on the floor" helping clients on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but she works in the back room most days, cleaning clothes or pricing merchandise.

Every item is placed for effect. All hangers face one way. Hats are hung in a jaunty array, from a pillbox to a stunning straw showpiece with netting. Purses march on a shelf in precise precision.

"This stuff is special," she says. "I treat it that way."

Her "pride and joy," a circular rack of party dresses from the 1940s and 1950s, is at front and center.

She keeps men's clothing up by the front door, too, and for good reason.

"Men don't always find things right away," she says, sharing a secret.

King discovered her love of vintage clothing by accident. She never loved history, but she aced accounting. That skill has served her well.

Before she opened the stores, all her jobs were in finance. That career, however, did not "feed my soul," she says.

In the early 1980s, she started dabbling in antiques, working as a dealer. Soon, the love of vintage clothing took hold. For several years, she participated in -- and eventually ran -- the annual vintage clothing show in Ybor City. To make money, she took accounting jobs.

In April 1998, with the demise of a third marriage, she opened the store.

"I took the leap," she said. "This became my new relationship."

She tries to foster another relationship: the connection between clothes and client. When she finds that certain hat or snappy shirt, she pictures a person.

"I enjoy a piece hanging on a hanger," she says. "But when a person tries it on, it comes alive."

Her clients range from people who are buying vintage for costume parties to working women who buy classic suits.

Most are from Tampa, but some come from as far away as Orlando.

"It's like big girl dress-up," says Julie Sanders, a sales associate, who has worked in the store for three years.

On a recent morning, a trio of Winter Haven women descend on the shop intent on finding some psychedelic threads for a '60s fundraiser.

King smiles in anticipation. They are on the prowl. She understands.

"We have to dress our husbands, too!" says Geri Tidwell.

Ann McCollough browses through the racks, looking at a pale orange jumpsuit, circa 1969. "I don't want to look like Jackie Kennedy," she explains.

The women disappear in the dressing rooms.

King watches them intently, as if she's in cahoots.

"We want to see," she calls out. "You have to show us! That's part of the fun."

Tidwell finds a pink brocade mini-dress with a stole for $40. For husband, Robert, she buys a tie-dyed shirt for $20.

"This is too much fun!" Tidwell says, as she pays.

King stands by and nods her head approvingly.

"I'm not interested in being a museum," she says.

A happy thought occurs to her. Tomorrow, she has a rare day off.

"I'm going shopping!" she says.

- Jennifer L. Stevenson can be reached at 226-3405 or at stevenson@sptimes.com.

Sherry E. King

  • AGE: 51
  • BORN: New Jersey
  • MOVED TO TAMPA: 1970
  • ERA SHE'D LIKE TO VIST: 1940s
  • HER PURSE: Vintage Coach. "A sturdy little bag."
  • SIZE OF HER CLOSETS: "Very small."
  • CONTENTS: Asian Jackets from 1950s and 1960s. About 35 pairs of shoes from the 1940s.
  • HOBBY: Music. She hosts a bluegrass show on WMNF-FM 88.5 on Saturdays from 6 to 8 a.m.
  • STORE INFO: Sherry's YesterDaze Vintage Clothing & Antiques, 1908 S MacDill Ave., 258-2388. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday 12-6 p.m.
  • OLDEST ITEM IN STORE: Wine red dress from late 1800s with fur trim. $200.
  • PRICES: Dresses range from $40-$75; hats from $15-$35; purses from $15 to $40. Men's Hawaiian shirts from $25-$100; men's ties from $4 to $35.

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