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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Shop owner covers miles to bring vintage variety to Downtown Bryan

Nikki+Neuzil%2C+owner+of+the+Wandering+Flamingo%2C+travels+to+as+far+as+the+Midwest+in+search+of+vintage+pieces+to+sell+in+her+downtown+Bryan+store.%26%23160%3B
Photo by By Katie Canales

Nikki Neuzil, owner of the Wandering Flamingo, travels to as far as the Midwest in search of vintage pieces to sell in her downtown Bryan store. 

Fur coats. Hand gloves. Polyester dresses.

Walking into Nikki Neuzil’s vintage shop is akin to entering a grandmother’s decade-old fashion-filled closet.

Wandering Flamingo, Neuzil’s one-year old shop, is just one of the many boutiques filling the spaces in Downtown Bryan.

The pieces have traveled miles to end up in the shop. Neuzil keeps the Flamingo stocked and freshly antiqued by attending trade shows at least once per month. She makes it a point to pick her vintage clothing outside of city limits — at times taking road trips through the Midwest to get her hands on mid-century and onward pieces.

“My favorite is the 50s, but I’d say the most popular right now is the 70s and the 80s and the 90s, I guess it’s hard to choose,” Neuzil said. “But I try to pick everything — everything’s hand-picked. I try to curate it seasonally appropriate and then obviously in style as well. I don’t just want to have a bunch of weird, just random things. I want them to be wearable, something you can incorporate into everyday wardrobe.”

Neuzil grew up outside of Dallas, developing her style with her grandmother in mind.

“She wore cat eye glasses and a terry cloth romper,” Neuzil said. “She would trim her rose bushes outside and everything in her house was mid-century. So that’s probably my earliest association and also I love my grandmother so much that it’s, you know, easy to grow up around that.”

Because almost all vintage pieces sold at the store are American-made, Neuzil said the shop is a testament to material trends in the United States.

“A lot of stuff used to be made with Polyester, a lot of things used to be just a pure cotton or a cotton twill, and now a lot of stuff is like a rayon blend or a spandex blend where they basically use updated plastics and polymers and man-made materials to make them just less of a quality,” Neuzil said. “You can physically touch them and tell the difference, and a lot of that has to do with production too.”

Becky Bacsik, Class of 2015 and regular Flamingo shopper, said she shops vintage in part because of the quality of older clothing items.

“You’ll never really come across a duplicate, I mean you can find similar things but I’ve never seen anything I own on someone else or in another shop, which is cool,” Bacsik said. “And they are also better-made, just in general. And there’s a lot of times when it’s cheaper.”

Apart from the difference in how clothing 50 years ago and clothing now was and is produced, Neuzil said they do have certain qualities in common.

“Everything comes back around and design houses use vintage pieces as inspiration for current lines,” Neuzil said. “So they’ll pick vintage pieces and use that pattern and make it modern.”

Cindy Roberts, owner of Burr’s Unfinished Furniture, has been a store owner in Downtown Bryan for 30 years and has seen how foot traffic downtown has been impacted by the Flamingo’s one year in business.

“She had brought in a whole new age group to Downtown [Bryan] which is awesome,” Roberts said. “She’s brought in kids who probably wouldn’t have come down here before, even adults that maybe didn’t know we had all this down here.”

Aside from her passion for vintage style alone, Neuzil said endorsing and re-purposing ethically-made clothing is also something that’s important to her.

“There are things that I can fix but then there are things that are just too weathered,” Neuzil said. “I’ll go through a series of steps to try to bring something back to life. Because I think it’s much better than the alternative, which is mass producing in China. So I feel like everything should have a chance to be recycled.”

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