4.14.2011

The Vermodernist Etsy Round-up: Shop with No Regretsy!

Vermonters are known for their diehard support of local businesses and a general appreciation for the "localvore" movement.  A great way to shop local for all of your mod and vintage needs is to hit up Vermont shops on Etsy.  Here are just a few shops we've had our eye on that will hopefully ensure that you shop with no regret-sy.

The Getup Vintage
Boasting two physical locations in Vermont, 27 Langdon street in Montpelier and 170 Bank street in Burlington, The Getup Vintage Etsy shop features clothes for both men and women (with the bulk of the items being for women) along with shoes, purses, and a few sundry items.

This little number particularly caught my eye and, at the time of writing this post, it is still available for purchase:


This Etsy shop is run by a Burlington-based couple and features a variety of vintage items including signage, barware, kitchenware, jewelry, some lighting and industrial pieces as well. The shop also takes requests for custom items so if there's something you've been looking for and haven't found they may be able to help!

Check out this great mid-century cocktail shaker up for grabs:

Etsy has always been a place for people to sell their handmade-wares. Nicole's Threads is based in Johnson, Vermont and sells retro-inspired handmade shirts, dresses and jewelry using vintage and upcycled fabrics. There are some great color, pattern and style options.

I particularly liked this one that would be great for spring:

When you're cooking your retro meals, a fun apron will complete the scene and Susannah Allen creates handmade aprons in a variety of styles from fabulous vintage fabrics. Based out of northern Vermont, I feel that Lucy and Ethel could've hatched a good scheme wearing something like this:


Vermont-based Vintage Vertigo has a hodge podge of retro fabulousness. There are some accessories, toys, books, and housewares. However these particularly caught my eye. I'd never seen 1950s electric footwear warmer/dryers!


If you've never shopped on Etsy before, you can narrow your search for items based on geographic location, type (vintage, handmade, etc.) and payment works similar to eBay and other shopping sites. Etsy sellers are also notoriously great with their shipping and packaging often throwing in fun little bonus items just as an added surprise.

Enjoy shopping local without having to leave the locality of your living room and help support some fellow Vermodernists!

4.10.2011

Getting Down and Derby

While Roller Derby may not fall into the category of mod or modernist, the sport has midcentury roots and is a downright cool thing to do in Vermont, so we thought it deserved a post of its own.

Roller Derby can trace its history back to the 1920s and 30s starting as a traveling exposition, then moving on to be broadcast on radio and television. 

We first became Derby fans when we lived in NYC seeing Gotham Girls Roller Derby and rooting for our beloved Queens of Pain. From the very first time we climbed into the bleachers of the packed venue to watch the mayhem unfold we were hooked.  The audience was a mix of misfits, punks, professionals, parents, families, students, and everyone in between.  We were all there to cheer for our home teams as they brutally rounded the track racking up points, bruises, and injuries. 

When we moved to Vermont I feared that our Derby cheering days were behind us, but I was happily proven wrong when we discovered the Green Mountain Derby Dames. The crowds were a bit smaller and the games were a bit less brutal, but the Roller Derby fun and spirit was there all the same.


We were able to catch one of the bouts of the double header last night where the Green Mountain Derby Dames took on the Assault City Roller Derby team from Syracuse, New York.  The first of the two bouts (that we unfortunately missed) featured Green Mountain's Black Ice Brawlers where they came out on top 106-101.  

The second bout featured Green Mountain's Grade A Fancy team (think maple syrup) who also played for the win 80-68. This bout featured some of our favorite Green Mountain players such as Annie Cockledoux, the Grade A Fancy captain.


The creativity and strategy on the track is matched in the creation of their names. Some of our favorites  include Blitzkrieg Blondie, Bruise Control, Queen Defeat-ya, Terminateher, Unita Hearse, The Atomic Muffin, The Silencer and Star Slayer to name just a few.

While this was their last home bout before a break, if you haven't checked out The Green Mountain Derby Dames it's definitely an experience endorsed by Vermodernist when looking for something downright cool with a retro edge to do in Vermont. 

4.08.2011

Dr. Martens For Life

***Update March 1, 2014***

"For Life" Guarantee Activated

Well, it's been almost three years since I bought my first pair of Dr. Martens "For Life" shoes and in January 2014 it was finally time to send them on back to the good folks at Dr. Martens USA for either a fixup or replacement. The treads were totally shot, the air cushion was not much of a cushion any longer, and the leather was starting to develop some cracks. Living in Vermont in the middle of winter, you can't walk around in shoes with no treads, so it was time.


The return process for a pair of For Life Docs is relatively straightforward. This page on their site has all the details.  I emailed them to ask about making a claim, and they responded about a day later with full instructions on where to send them, etc. I UPS'd them to their location in Oregon (for USA customers) and was told I would hear from them in a few weeks to get my credit card info for the $35 administration fee they charge each time you make a claim. About four weeks went by and I finally heard from them, which was longer than expected. I gave them my credit card number over the phone and within a couple days they dispatched me a brand new pair. I had them about a week later. No questions were asked at all about returning them or the condition of the old shoes. Total time was about seven weeks.


In late February, I received the brand new pair of For Life Docs and now I get to start the breaking in process all over again. A couple of thoughts about the For Life program: First, it took much longer than I would have liked. In less than the amount of time it took for me to send them a garbage pair of Docs and them to send me out a brand new pair, I also sent back a pair of 20+ year old Allen Edmonds brogues and had them completely recrafted - the soles, heels, welting, and cork layer were replaced and the upper refinished - and received them back before the new pair of Docs. Second, I've decided I am just not a fan of the type of leather that is used on the For Life line. They call this "Hardlife" leather which I guess is meant to be more sturdy, but it gives the shoes a matte appearance which I don't particularly care for, and they leather does not take a shine very well. Not a deal breaker, and I will wear the new 1461s until they die, but I'm not sure I would get another pair of For Life shoes now that the higher cost of the first pair plus the return fee has already paid for itself with one free pair. Next time, I will probably purchase a pair of Made in England Docs and hope they last a little longer than the Asian-made versions.

Have you had any experience with returning your Docs for the For Life guarantee? Feel free to comment below ... Thanks for reading.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Original post from April 8, 2011

The other day as I contemplated a slight tear in the upper and a small crack in the sole of my beloved, worn, comfortable, 1461 Dr. Martens shoes, I thought, "Well, that time again. Gotta get a new pair." Seems to happen every four or five years. I wear these shoes nearly every day of my life, and have always had at least one pair, if not more, of Dr. Martens shoes and boots since I was 14 years old.


My very first pair or Dr. Martens were the classic 1460 eight hole boots. Given the model number 1460 because they are based on the first style of boot Dr. Martens ever produced - the first pair rolled off the production line of their factory in Wollaston, England on April 1, 1960 (1.4.60 in European date style). I remember being a very shy and intimidated 14 year old as I went into the punk store in town called Two Tone which was staffed by 20-somethings with foot-high spiked mohawks who smelled like patchouli. This was in the late 80s - before every jock in school was wearing Docs when Nirvana hit (and as a good friend of mine would say, "ruined [his] life"); before you could walk into any mall, head for the nearest Hot Topic shop and buy a pair in any color of the rainbow. Scared of the older punks who ran the shop, I tried them on quickly (they were probably a size too big - I don't think I grasped the fact that the UK had different sizes back then), paid for them, got them home and wore them to school the next day.

Let's just say that at first, these boots weren't made for walking.

I remember literally hobbling home from school the first week, in dire pain. Doc Martens give you an initiation in pain, which in the end, makes you love the boots or shoes all the more. You work for those boots; you earn them. And they become part of you.

After many years of wear, I finally parted with those beloved boots I bought when I was 14 about 20 years later at age 34. The soles were worn flat and were bald, the air had long since seeped out of the Air Wear soles, both soles had gaping cracks that let in water - it was their time to go. In the meantime, I'd gone through a few pairs of different 1461s - some black, some oxblood, one steel toe pair. And the other day I found myself online looking to replace my trusty 1461s yet again, not looking forward to the pain I would need to endure for weeks to break them in.


I checked out the Dr. Martens USA site, and came across a few new interesting options. In the early 2000s, Dr. Martens apparently moved production of most of their shoes from their factory in Wollaston, England to Southeast Asia, and most every pair of Docs nowadays is made in either China or Thailand. If you're willing to pay a premium (nearly double) you can still buy a pair of "Made in England" Docs (their "Originals" line). I wondered if dropping the extra cash for some "Made in England" cache and perhaps higher quality craftsmanship might be worth it, and perhaps they would last longer. But that price is a difficult pill to swallow, especially if I can't be sure they'd last any longer, and honestly the last few pairs of Asian-made Docs I've owned were made just as well as their English counterparts.


Then I happened across another line of shoes and boots on their site - the "For Life" collection. For about an extra $30, you can purchase a pair of (Asian-made) Docs (either the 1460 boot or 1461 shoe, in various colors) that are guaranteed for life. All normal wear and tear is covered by this guarantee. That means that when, in four or five years the sole of my shoes develops a crack, or a grommet pops off, or the leather cracks, I can mail them back to Dr. Martens and they will either repair or replace the shoes - nearly for free (they do charge a nominal administration fee, and I will have to pay for postage). Still, much cheaper than shelling out $100 for a new pair every five years. The higher price gets you not only the lifetime guarantee, but they also come with a tub of Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam and an extra pair of laces. They're made out of "Hardlife" leather (which looks the same as regular Docs, but is meant to last longer), and there is additional weight and thickness added to the core of the sole.


And when will I ever stop wearing Docs? They are a classic that will never go out of style. Beloved through the years by policemen, garbage men, factory workers, mods, skinheads, punks, rude boys and girls, goths, and grungers, they have been a classic for over 50 years and will remain so for another 50.

My "For Life" 1461s just arrived the other day, and it's time again to break out the thick socks and band-aids. But of course, it's worth it.

4.02.2011

Ska In My Backyard

Jen and I were having a couple pints of beer after work on Thursday night at what has become our new "local" - a bar in Winooski called the Monkey House. Since moving to Winooski last August, the Monkey House has filled a void left by our beloved and sorely missed Irish pub in our old neighborhood in Queens, NYC. A good beer selection, and exceedingly friendly bartenders. One of the best "features" of the bar, however, is that it's practically within spitting distance of our apartment (we can see it from our windows). While the younger Burlington-area crowd may consider the Monkey House a staple to see bands, we thirty- somethings tend to leave well before the 10:00pm hour when most of the bands go on.

This trend changed when I overheard the bartender talk about  "Montreal" and "ska band" when speaking to another patron. "Excuse me?" I asked. "Did you say Montreal ska band?" "Yeah, they're playing here tonight. They're called The Beatdown. I'm psyched, they're good." I needed no further convincing.

Despite it being a "school night" I went back to the Monkey House at 10:00 to check them out, and I'm glad I did. The Beatdown describe themselves as "pure and uncompromising reggae and ska, with soul overtones and a punk edge." Spot on.




With a firmly third-wave ska sound, their singer's gravelly voice is somewhat reminiscent of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And though they have no horn section, the singer made a respectable go at it with a harmonica, and it actually worked quite well. They supplemented their original songs with a great cover of The Temptations "Get Ready." And for their encore, the crowd was treated to their rendition of the Toots and the Maytals ska classic, "Monkey Man."

After moving to Vermont I pretty much stopped paying attention to the live music scene, since there were very few bands I would be interested in touring through our humble city (or so I thought). While The Specials might leave Burlington, Vermont off their next reunion tour list, there are indeed good bands to be seen every now and again - one just has to seek them out.

Over the last few months, I've become more aware of the thriving music scene just a couple hours to the north in Montreal. In addition to The Beatdown, bands like KidSentiment and Le Chelsea Beat are just two garage/power pop/mod revival bands that are gaining momentum, playing shows and putting out records. KidSentiment's latest effort, "Amours De Vacances" can be found on iTunes, and will be released formally this spring - I highly recommend it.


At the risk of sounding somewhat self-indulgent, I'm hoping that the following list of tracks that have been on heavy rotation on my iPod can lead to some recommendations from Vermodernist readers of other current bands from the Vermont area or beyond. Here's what I've been into lately:

The Business - "Out in the Cold" (Official Bootleg 1980-81)

Dice the Boss - "Tea House from Emperor Rosko" (Dancehall '69 comp)

The Kinks - "Do You Remember Walter?" (The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society)

The Skatalites - "King Solomon" (Foundation Ska, Vol. 1)

Kid Sentiment - "Nos Insomnies" (Amours De Vacances)

The Specials - "Gangsters" (BBC Sessions)

Laurel Aitkin - "Sahara" (Rudi Got Married)

The Purple Hearts - "Beat That!" (Beat That)

Cock Sparrer - "Watch Your Back" (Shock Troops)

The Ethiopians - "Free Man" (Train to Skaville Anthology 1966 to 1975)

Assuming they would be interested, I'd love it if more Montreal-based and greater New England-based ska/mod/garage bands considered a stop in northern Vermont for their touring schedule. If anyone out there is plugged in and is putting on shows, I'd love to hear from you!

What are you listening to non-stop these days?