Vintage tuxedos command great deal of attention, but few buyers

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- So, anyone need a vintage tuxedo?

One with a baby blue shirt, perhaps. Or a pink one. Maybe melon or lime and with ruffles down the front. And don't overlook the lavender, maroon, white and taupe jackets, all lined in velvet or satin.

The odd cargo of 250 retro tuxedos arrived at The Salvation Army thrift store here about six weeks ago, took an afternoon to unload and left the store manager and sales clerks wondering, just wondering, how long they will take to sell.

''They're a little different,'' said sales clerk Philamena Prieto.

The bus load included shiny black shoes, backless vests, glimmering silver and gold bow ties and ruffled cummerbunds.

And it all has to be sold here, whether Fairbanks is a good market for retro wear or not. The tuxedos sell for about $20 each.

There are so many tuxedos that The Salvation Army has to keep most of them in a back room.

The store acquired the tuxedos from a Salvation Army board member. Salvation Army spokeswoman Dawn Clemons said she didn't know how the board member, who could not be reached for comment, got them.

They have to be sold in Fairbanks because, unlike retail chains, The Salvation Army thrift stores, located throughout the nation, cannot trade merchandise between them.

Prieto said the tuxedos get a fair amount of attention -- a seamstress wanted to make a quilt out of them -- but not many buyers.

''We try to push them,'' she said. ''They're not going very fast.''

Barbara Bettisworth bought one of the tuxedos for her son Monday afternoon.

''We have a wedding coming up,'' she said as she tried tiny tuxedo coats on her 1 1/81/2 3/8- and 3-year-olds, Cleary and Boyd.

''What do you think, buddy, would you wear that?'' she asked Boyd, who was holding a softball as he modeled his tuxedo coat.

''I would,'' he said.

''Would you like a ruffly shirt?'' she asked him.

''I just like this,'' he said pointing to the dinosaur T-shirt he wore beneath the formal coat.

Bettisworth considered buying a tux for her husband, but changed her mind.

''I think he'd do a retro tux in a heartbeat, but I just don't know what his size is,'' she said.


(Distributed by The Associated Press)

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