Costume Consignment Store with Love
San Anselmo, CA
A new year
brings new opportunities. My New Year came early and wearing the
guise (or should I say costume?) of a disaster. Caravan Costumes
and I were sitting pretty in our wonderful new location in downtown
San Anselmo, California. Right on the lovely Creek Park side of
trendy San Anselmo Avenue, the store is nestled next to a popular
Thai restaurant. I’d been working hard all year to achieve the
concept of a shop filled with Silk Road costumes and accessories
(on consignment), so I was thrilled with my sudden good fortune.
only had I found an ideal location (established and with loads
of foot traffic) but a location with a flexible landlord willing
to rent on a short-term basis and willing to let me move
in a week early--rent free!
was perfect too…racks already installed, a spacious dressing room,
hardwood floors, vast display windows and the high ceilings ready-made
for showcasing David
Ludwig’s Silk Spirit veils. It seemed
almost too good to be true.
consignors joined the fold during set-up week and the store easily
became a magical place. Rainbows of brilliant colors, sequins,
beads and glitter sparkled in the sun through immaculate windows,
and glamorous fringe danced as the door opened over and over as
shoppers, curious, explored the town’s newest – and most exotic
– store. The Goddesses were indeed smiling at the chance to bring
dance, fantasy, fun and beauty to this quaint town, already known
for great consignment shops.
The day before
New Year’s Eve was a good one for the shop. Sales were strong
from World Dance Fitness and Goddess Wear Boutique, along
with a blithe spirit named Tahlula, had
graced the store with their beauty and animated energy. Both women
tried on a varied range of costumes; Egyptian bedlah, vintage
hippy ensembles, exotic wear, fanciful wigs and a couple of stunning
headpieces. We had a great time, and apparently so did others.
Close neighbors later told me they even turned off their TV, preferring
to peer through the window at the goings on at Caravan Costumes
even happily, stayed late that night to inventory new consignments
and put finishing details on the shop. All was set for the grand
opening, January 1, 2006. I was counting my blessings that lovely
New Year’s Eve, filled with gratitude for the support of many
friends and family. At 8:00, I locked the doors behind me, took
one quick last look over my shoulder at the new venture and headed
later, about to put my feet up, the phone rang. Judy Laughter,
a friend and dancer from Rising Stars, called with an offer
to help “regardless of the time.” Help with what, I had to wonder
until Judy repeated details of dire warnings about potential flooding
that night, and was worried about Caravan Costumes as the
store was in the very heart of the flood zone. At 2:00 a.m. I
woke and, heeding an insistent ‘little voice’, got dressed and
headed out to check on the store. It was raining, but not heavily
yet. I saw only emergency vehicles out and about. As I parked
I noticed that someone had been busy piling sandbags at every
doorway. Without warning the town’s deafening alarm sounded, shattering
situation?” I asked a passer-by.
flood alarm … the creek’s only 2 feet from flooding”.
going to get things up off the floor,” I answered, pointing to
my dark and now vulnerable little shop that backed up onto the
if I were you,” he said, hurrying himself.
The next hour
flew by as I packed garment bags and ran around folding items
over the top of the racks so they were several feet above the
floor. The mannequins’ filmy skirts were hiked up immodestly past
their thighs. Everything on the floor was put atop a table or
bench as I nervously kept an eye on the creek. I didn’t want to
be caught inside when – not if – the creek crested. After doing
everything I could think of, I forced myself to leave and drove
home. Amazingly, I was able to sleep. Thank goodness for exhaustion.
phone woke me. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news ….”
hit hard by rushing water and mud and not one store, including
Caravan Costumes, was spared. I raced down there with no
idea of what awaited. Complete chaos was what I found. Even opening
the door was difficult as the 5 foot planter stands had been pushed
from the back of the store to the front blocking the front door.
Thick sticky mud was everywhere and eventually all I could do
was stand in the midst of it and cry. I was amazed at the extent
of the water’s force – usually it was a small and pretty creek.
Once the shock passed, however, I was so relieved to realize my
efforts during the night had spared the vast majority of my inventory.
My practical side kicked in again, and I knew I needed get the
stock out of the ruined store as quickly as possible so that nothing
else would be damaged from the damp and overwhelming muck.
immediately called bellydance comrades, from friends to family.
Judy, Starr, Helen,
Linda, cousin Tom,
sister Nancy and brother-in-law Bobby
arrived hurriedly and pitched in. We had to get every single thing
out of the store as quickly as possible. Amazingly, everyone seemed
to know what to do and what they could best contribute. Nancy
tapped a neighbor’s van, Tom brought an industrial fan, and Helen
performed costume triage. Starr sorted jewelry and accessories
and helped move everything from store to van to my apartment.
Judy mopped and bagged and, along with Aruna, Linda, Athena, Nancy
and Helen, carried armloads home to lovingly launder, rinse and
New Year’s Day, I could only collapse in exhaustion in my sister’s
apartment. But after a long, hot shower and cold glass of champagne,
I felt almost revived, although bewildered, by the events of the
past 24 hours. By 7:30 that night, Starr had magically transformed
herself from mud-slinger to elegant party-goer. I was glad to
see her when she came by to escort me to a friend’s party. Beth
was hosting a small gathering to mark the end of one year and
the beginning of a fresh one. Beth fed us comfort food (a wonderful
lamb dinner), kept the champagne flowing and eventually tucked
me up in the guest room for the night. We decided it would have
been depressing for me to go home and face Caravan Costumes’
storefront in my living room!
With the dawning
of a new day and a new year, even more dancers offered help and
support. Stela, Lorry,
Wendy, Sandy and
Leslie joined the lovely rescuers. I am
still overwhelmed by the love and unquestioning support of family
and dance community. Reports were coming in from those who had
taken costumes to clean – all of it great news. Nearly everything
was turning out beautifully. In many instances the costumes and
accessories looked better—cleaner and shinier – than ever.
And then the
landlord checked in.
so sorry I talked you into moving in early,” he faltered. “I feel
In the spirit
of new beginnings we simply agreed to start over again. He thinks
the space will be repaired and ready by the first of February.
Although he’s had others approach him to rent my space,
he’s preserving it for the new and improved Caravan Costumes.
“I want to
see you in there going full guns,” he said encouragingly.
then, what they say about hope. It does spring eternal. Caravan
Costumes is ready to try again. And with the encouragement
of relations and dance family, I am planning to open around February
1, at the same location. 730 San Anselmo Avenue, next
door to Orchid Thai.
such an incredible experience. I consider myself extremely fortunate
and I am tremendously grateful for the love and support of my
family and the resilient community of belly dancers.
everyone, for collaborating with me and for your generous and
heartfelt support. Please come by the Grand RE-Opening of my dream.
Evelyn's store reopens this Saturday, February 4th, 2006.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Zaharr's Memoir, Part 12-Learning
knew I wasn't dancing like one of the pretty dancers I had seen
in 1966, but now it was 1968, and it was time to focus on my own
goal of learning more.
Amani “Around the World”
DVD Report by Katya Faris
has put her dancing on stage and has created numerous theatre
productions in the past 10 years and this show is the first one
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Plans for 2006 by Miles Copeland, 2005 Photos by Monica Berini
is nothing like consistency and constant pressure to deliver at
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and Reason Series, Article 8, Leadership
Mary Ellen Donald
you lead people, you take certain risks. One such risk is that
Belly Dancer of the Year 2005
Page 1 Duos, Trios & Troupes photos by Monica
May 28, 2005, San Ramon, California.