Out with the new, in with the old: Vintage streetwear store Singlestitch opens on State Street
The '80s and '90s are calling, and this store is excitedly picking up the phone.
The owner of Singlestitch plans on eventually getting an exterior sign for the 214 State St. storefront that opened on Sept. 4, but it may not need one. Word-of-mouth has brought scores of customers walking through the vintage and consignment store, which feels like a fashion and memorabilia time capsule.
“It’s very nostalgic. A lot of times people are buying a memory, not necessarily just a T-shirt,” says the 21-year-old owner and founder, Mitchell Hammes.
The eclectic boutique is filled with vintage jackets, T-shirts, shoes, hats, bobbleheads and toys. Hammes aims to bring a sense of comfort to the people who have been bouncing in and out of the store, which has a streetwear-style focus. Hammes stresses that his shop is anything but typical — even in the wide-ranging business district of State Street.
“I feel like it’s always a very safe space to go back to your childhood,” he says, explaining that it’s an experience people are chasing particularly during the pandemic.
He launched Singlestitch in his hometown of La Crosse about two years ago, but his eyes were always set on bringing the shop to Madison, and he knew to take the risk. Hammes turned to his friends — and now his employees — to help.
“Once I realized this was a fun career path to do, I jumped in,” says Daniel Garrity, a friend and now employee at Singlestitch. Along with other friends of Hammes, Garrity quit his 9-to-5 job to work at the shop.
“We kind of just had to trust that it was gonna work,” Garrity says.
Before the business took off, Garrity and Hammes would open up their closets for friends to peruse. It became clear there was an interest in the kind of vintage items they owned. Hammes began hosting pop-up sales in his driveway nearly every other week. The next step was to open up a store.
Hammes says he has always been an entrepreneur at heart. In today’s world, he says that fashion is not only important for expression, but also about first impressions. It’s much more difficult finding someone wearing a duplicate vintage item of clothing, Hammes adds.
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“I’ve always just wanted to be different, trying to be ahead of trends,” he says.
Garrity echoes that, adding that the graphics are often bigger and the colors pop more on vintage pieces.
“The thought behind it is [that] all this stuff is here, there’s no reason to buy new stuff if the old stuff is working. And a lot of times it’s more visually appealing,” he says.
For Garrity, it’s also the opportunity to support sustainable practices that pushed him to agree to work at Singlestitch, where everything is reused or recycled. He studied biology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he also learned about the dangers of fast fashion and its exploitative history.
People are often surprised by some of the high-priced items at Singlestitch. “It’s not necessarily like the same thing that you can go to the mall and get. There’s a reason why everything has the price point it does,” says Hammes. There is an entire collector’s market that exists, Garrity says. In the short time that Singlestitch has existed on State Street, they have already connected with at least five local thrifters.
Watching the back stock and inventory go down as customers buy items excites Hammes most. Visitors are buying 1994 Rose Bowl and Game Day items left and right. Some thrifters relax on red and blue chairs shaped like hands pointed toward a vintage TV, surrounded by stacks of DVDs, Harley Davidson signage and multiple shirts honoring “Queen Bey” (Beyoncé).
With plans to open a second store in La Crosse in the spring, Hammes is excited for the future of Singlestitch. “I just hope people find something they enjoy that they wouldn’t see anywhere else,” he says.
Singlestitch is open noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
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