Carrboro Commons

Roulette Vintage closes its doors; but isn’t going away

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in Business by jock

By Megan Gassaway
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

A tray of handmade, heart-shaped pins sits on a table near the entrance of Roulette Vintage, while a box of vintage cards stands near the cash register. Customers and friends mingle among sparkling dresses, plaid button-downs and flannel lingerie.

Kara LaFleur and Rebecca Moore, co-owners of Roulette Vintage, stand behind the counter at the Roulette Vintage’s Valentine’s Day party. On Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, they closed the doors of their East Main Street shop for the last time. Photo by Megan Gassaway

It is Friday, Feb. 11, the date of this year’s Roulette Vintage Valentine’s Day party. The annual party welcomes old friends and customers, as well as new faces. On Sunday, Feb. 13, the store will close the doors of its East Main Street location for the final time and the building will be emptied of its vintage treasures.

“We are closing because the economy is crap,” said store owner Kara LaFleur. “We’re just not making ends meet with our space.”

Roulette Vintage has occupied the space of 118 1/2 E. Main St. for four years. The store sells vintage clothing and accessories dating from 1930 to 1980, as well as local band T-shirts, textiles, clothing and accessories by local designers, according to Roulette Vintage’s website. The store has held a prominent location in Carrboro by offering an affordable option to “the mass production of mall clothing,” but can no longer afford to maintain the East Main Street shop, LaFleur said.

“The retail economy has totally collapsed,” LaFleur said. “People just aren’t shopping. You can see it when you walk around town.”

Instead of working out of the East Main Street location, LaFleur and co-owner Rebecca Moore will continue to sell vintage clothing online through Etsy, an online “marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors to sell their handmade creations, vintage goods and crafting supplies,” according to the Etsy website.

Riverbasin Outfitters designer River Takada-Capel stands by lingerie that she crafted from recycled fabrics and vintage clothing. While Takada-Capel made the lingerie exclusively for the Valentine’s Day party, she used to sell her handmade creations at Roulette Vintage throughout the year. Photo by Megan Gassaway

“We’re going to focus on our online store and focus on locals,” LaFleur said.

LaFleur hopes to find an office or small house out of which to run Roulette Vintage, a place where she and Moore can host events like trunk shows and parties like the annual Valentine’s Day celebration.

Until they find a new space, LaFleur hopes to cater to the local community while selling accessories and clothing online. LaFleur plans to eliminate shipping costs to locals and jokes that instead of shipping goods she will meet customers with their purchases at Carrboro haunts like Open Eye Café or the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.

While LaFleur hopes to accommodate local customers, closing the doors of 118 1/2 E. Main St. will have a ripple effect on local artists such as River Takada-Capel.

Friday’s Valentine’s Day party featured unique designs by Takada-Capel, who grew up in Carrboro and is the designer for Riverbasin Outfitters. Takada-Capel’s Riverbasin Outfitters sells clothing and accessories made from recycled materials, including lingerie made from recycled flannel shirts.

Takada-Capel crafted her lingerie line especially for the Valentine’s Day show, but sells her clothing and accessories at Roulette Vintage throughout the year.

“It’s one less paycheck,” Takada-Capel said about the store’s closing. “I depend on this store for a large amount of income.”

Riverbasin Outfitters will now rely entirely on craft shows and the company’s website, Takada-Capel said.

“It’s kind of like I lost a job,” Takada-Capel said. “People have part-time jobs and it’s like I lost one of mine.”

But Roulette Vintage is more than just a business.

“It’s nice because I’ll go to Weaver, come here, say hello, then go to the Station after this place closes,” Takada-Capel said about the shop. “It’s definitely a neighborhood spot.”

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing for the business,” UNC-Chapel Hill student and Roulette Vintage intern Grace Joyal said about the store’s closing. “But it’s bad for the town because it’s like losing a friend.”

“It worries me that places like this can’t survive,” said Katie Schuler, an artist living in Chapel Hill. “I hate to think what could replace it because whoever replaces it will not be as supportive to the local community and artists.”

When Joyal stopped at the light at the intersection of Roberson and East Main Streets, she used to look forward to seeing dresses in the window of Roulette Vintage. After Sunday’s closing, there will be neither vintage dresses nor paper hearts decorating the windows of 118 1/2 E. Main St. in Carrboro.

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