By Sonia Tubb & Kyle Pauletto
In October 2002, with many years of retail experience behind her, Shelley Rigney helped the St Vincent de Paul Society open the doors to a small, vibrant store in Northbridge, now affectionately known as Vinnies Retro.
To awaiting buyers, the little shop with the eccentric window displays and smiling faces behind the counter seemed like the perfect match to their party themes and 1970’s housewife look needs.
Eight years later and Shelley still stands behind every buy at Vinnies Retro, with the help of volunteers and Assistant Manager Kyle Pauletto.
“Retail is who I am, the difference with this job, and what drew me to it was the fact that I started it from scratch, I didn’t take it over, it reflects who I am and what retail means to me. We have so many treasures come through, pieces of clothing from the 1950’s dresses to the latest in designer wear, and the more we sell, the more people we can help through the St Vincent de Paul Society and that is what’s most important.”
Shelley says the fun is ‘in the customers’ and that ‘every day is different, you never know what might be on the racks, it’s always a treasure trove!’
Over the past eight years, Shelley has been witness to the most in demand looks and trends, with customers going that extra bit further to add eccentricity to their look with a retro piece.
In today’s consumer society, where buyers are becoming more alert to the tricks of big brands and franchise stores, she notices the want for designer brands at a discounted price, and the effort people are putting in to find the biggest bargain possible.
“The reason Vinnies Retro has, for the last eight years, been such a hit in the area is the balance it creates between high end boutiques and vintage stores, providing a refreshing mix of the two, while still giving its profits to charity.”
Of his role at Vinnies Retro, Kyle Pauletto explains the balance he brings to a predominantly female environment, adding “I love it because of the look on people’s faces when something totally unique fits and suits them perfectly. I know that sales help to support the work of the St Vincent De Paul Society and those who need it.”
Revenue raised from Vinnies Retro and the other 43 Vinnies Retail Centres around the state go towards assisting the Society’s services such as accommodation options for the disadvantaged, facilities for those with a mental illness, and basic necessities for struggling families such as food and clothing. To volunteer at a Vinnies Retail Centre near you, go to http://www.vinnies.org.au. Vinnies Retro is located at 267B William Street, Northbridge, ph 9228 4877.