"What a great idea—a vintage band in a vintage shop!" The quintet sounded and looked like an instrumental version of the Soggy Bottom Boys: tin cans for drums, a rubber band and bucket for a bass. Old newspaper clippings covered the wall behind them. "Who are they?" asked a newcomer. "Roosevelt Dime. You might have seen them on the subway." "I take cabs."
Last Thursday, Cure Thrift Shop on East 12th Street and Third Avenue celebrated three years of catering to all levels of income. Four-dollar T-shirts hung alongside $400 designer boots; trinkets were sold next to furniture. Punks looked at early Betty Jackson and the MTA-averse debutante picked up a decorative coffee grinder. She set it down, confused.
"It comes with the territory," said owner Liz Wolff. "We get everything through donations, so we’re going to have variety, and people who believe in our cause generally give us nice things."
All of Cure’s profits, including those from last week’s party, go toward fighting juvenile diabetes. This may have explained the constant line at the bar—drinkers felt justified. Hosted by Voli vodka, the bar served the sponsored spirit for hours until it was forced to switch to its backup, Beefeater, which, unfortunately, reminded one imbiber of what his past cocktails lacked. "You can taste it now," he animatedly told a friend. "It actually feels like you’re drinking alcohol."
Defined liberally, the evening’s theme, "Night at the Circus," seemed inclusive enough for anyone who made an attempt. The hula-hooping girl wore a top hat. Bryan Brava, a black actor with blond hair and blue eyes, wore a small Native- American headdress. But the best costume undoubtedly belonged to downstairs assistant manager Roger Remedios.
"I’ve worked in thrift stores 13 years and this is all part of a collection I’ve amassed," he said. He gestured at his purple shirt, plaid bow tie, ringleader hat and, his finishing touch, a fake mustache. "The only thing I borrowed from Cure are my shoes."
"Which don’t fit," downstairs manager Lizze Altmann interjected. She wore vintage leather boots, gold tights and a puffy Tracy Reese shirt.
"But they are 1980s Versace." "Which Roger loves because he’s Italian."
Upstairs, the music had stopped and a line had formed by the register. Malory Butler, a ballet dancer whose lace boy shorts were visible under her hot pants, paid for a new pair of shorts. Elle Ward, a fashion designer, stood holding a pink tee and theater producer Catie Humphres scanned the bookshelf for a novel to help her French.
"’XVII Sicle.’ I think this is volume 17 of some collection."