Sideshow (Sam)

A little blackboard sign leads to the basement of a mall reads "No clothing for another wanker." I followed the sign as if it was an invitation to Alice's mad tea party.
This is how I met Sam the owner of the vintage clothing store, Sideshow located in the heart of a hip fashion district of town; Lo Jo, or Lower Johnson street.

Even you are not into vintage clothing or the whole fuzzy definition of "hipster," Sideshow is still worth a visit. Why? Because you can meet Sam! As soon as I walked into the store with my yet to come blog idea (which I wasn't even sure could happen), Sam, with no judgment or doubt listened to my idea seriously and willingly agreed to take a part in my project.
"Some people come in and say they would volunteer for the store but I believe in returning favour," so she said and welcomed me.

If you ever met her before, you know it takes a second to pick up how energetic and open minded Sam is. She's just full of energy. Just talking to her blows your mind. As I started talking about clothes in general, next thing I knew she was right to a point of feminist issues talking about women's low self esteem and body image. "My goal is to inspire people to be more interesting and not be afraid to stick out," the living burlesque pin-up says.

Her eccentric vibe regards her as an artist but Sam wasn't always in the world of fashion. She worked in the field of Financial Planning until January 2009 when she lost her job just like thousand others in the town.
"After that I was questioning staying in that field," she looks back. But she didn't stay in the state of questioning too long. The opportunity to take over the stare came up and the next thing she knew, she quickly re-opened the store in the same year in June. But it was nothing but her effort and passion that lead to the opening of the store. "I worked crazy hours 24/7 as a janitor to fund the opening" she looks back. "....and have been running tooth and nail since!" she recalls.

The Toronto native knows how to open up to express herself and look forward to see people open up to new things in Victoria.
"I like Victoria but sometimes I find people quite so scared of the unknown."
That's why the store isn't only selling clothes but philosophy as well.
After our first brief meeting in the store, she invited this start-up blogger to grand opening party of the store where I met local artists and designers.
People were diverse, open-minded, wicket and artsy but not in a snobbish or formal way. It was for sure a rare scene in Victoria. This proves Sam's point.
"Make friends with strangers," Sam encourages, " I'm here to influence a change on that."

"Join the Cult of Sideshow!"

The Store:

I can't describe the store without talking about Sam to that extent. From the decoration to the collection of the store reflects Sam's funky and sophisticated taste on clothing. The versatile collection of store items is a combination of the vintage and locally designed.

Sam recommends, Chainmail Goddess, the newest and the most popular jewelry maker featured in the store. One of the strength of the store is how Sam knows all the products at heart including designers of handcrafted items.  "Chainmail Goddess is a combination of a steam punk,Victorian/, Medival twist," Sam explains.
Well crafted Chainmail Goddess broach

But really it is your job to find one of a kind items that are waiting for you to discover.
"My biggest recommendation is to dig; dig hard and dig deep," Sam says.
Therefore she doesn't mind you makiing a grand mess during your treasure hunt.
"If you don't dig, you may miss the most important special piece ever."

Personally and for many people as well, the price is a big turn off when it comes to vintage clothing and locally made items.That's why you would be surprised to see how affordable things are at Sideshow considering the location of the store.

While Sam recommended a few lines of jewelry and clothing items, I think one of the biggest highlight of the store is alternation services that Sam offers. She believes that alternations are important in the vintage world where all pieces are one of a kind. She is aware that for the same reason many seamstresses won't work with vintage, especially when it requires hand sewing which she specializes in.
"The needle is my magic wand," she says with confidence.

If you think alternation is best done in chinatown, you might want to reconsider that.

Sam offers alternation and mending services with the low price. She took her price guides right from chinatown.  "I am quick and aim to be quicker, I am with my low prices to really push myself with speed and quality. I will never suffice quality, I'd rather pass up on sleep. I have sewn and crafted my entire life and have a very high respect for other cultures, namely asian, which also practice a lot of skilled craftsmanship."

Check your basement or attic; any idea where your mom's favourite summer dress from 70s?

"come meet me!"

When you come to the store, don't forget to check out Sam's Barby doll collection. They tell more about the store and the owner than I could possibly explain in one blog post.

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