Looking out into the distance can often be a mirage of your thoughts. Like spotting a school bus decked out in psychedelic colors with a touch of graffiti on one side. Inside the vehicle, the seats are replaced with racks filled with wearable treasures of the past.
Can you say a fashion dream? This illusion isn’t imaginary, it’s real.
The vintage collector behind the Gogo’s Retread Threads bus is Stacey Chambers. She is a Nevada native that now calls Baltimore her home. Her fascination for vintage clothing started in Reno, Nevada with two women, her mother and grandmother.
“I was very close with my Gram,” Chambers said. She was kind of a bad-ass stylistically and personally. We would watch old movies together. Even though, I was a very bookish tomboy, I recognized the beauty, care and pride of the wardrobe in those films. My incredibly amazing Mom ran a huge homeless outreach, thrift store, food pantry, soup kitchen and vintage boutique for a good part of my life.”
Besides having a great foundation, Chambers took her individuality seriously and avoided national fashion trends.
“As a kid in Reno, I would take the city bus to some pretty sketchy areas because they had the thrift stores with best vintage,” Chambers said. Being able to really see and appreciate the difference in quality between a vintage piece and a mass produced piece at such an early age really stuck.”
Inspired by her personal views on fashion, her mother’s efforts to give back to the community and her grandmother’s glamorous style, Chambers was destined to create a vintage mecca for the masses. In 2010, the Gogo’s Retread Threads bus made its first stop at the JFX Farmer’s Market in downtown Baltimore.
“It was so very validating that people were ‘picking up what I was putting down’”, Chambers said. Things were selling. People were supportive and excited about what I was doing. [Also], I remember I was wearing these awesome white grannie booties [that] were not skid proof and I slipped down the stairs. Nothing makes one feel cooler than falling down stairs on their first day of anything.”
With a few bumps on her journey, Chambers’ mobile fashion business has become a Charm City stable. Whether the massive vintage chariot is parked in Station North or in Hampden, its outer design is always a conversation starter.
“I named my bus Elsa after the actress, Elsa Lanchester,” Chambers said. [The bus’ outer design was inspired by a movie I love}, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. Spoiler alert: The actual "Bride" is only in the last ten minutes the movie. In those ten minutes, some see a monster, but I always saw this iconic creature you'd never forget. I know some people see a monster when they look at the bus with the graffiti art, the skulls, and all the colors. But, I think most see the beauty of the creation.”
There is more to the bus named ‘Elsa’ when you step inside.
“Inside the bus was a lot more thought out,” Chambers said. Yet, it is ever evolving with some random things thrown in like the writing on the ceiling. I accidentally marked the ceiling and realized it erased. I wrote some fashion quotes and positive affirmations. [Also], I left the markers out for others to make their mark. Essentially, I wanted to create a space that made me [as well as] others happy and feel special.”
Gogo’s Retread Threads provides an unique shopping experience as Baltimore’s one and only vintage bus. If you ever see ‘Elsa’ in your neighborhood, do not fear, hop on and get some vintage.