Sipping wine on the patio of Ipanema on West Grace, Casey Longyear remembers Richmond before she and Marshe Wyche set up shop here. “You could take people to tenfolds of restaurants and parks and all that, but there wasn’t one spot that we felt really represented what we loved about Richmond.”
That’s how Rumors started – a secondhand-chic thrift and consignment shop and local favorite – located on Harrison Street, next door to The Village Café.
The first thing you’ll notice when walking by is the music that fills up the entire block. It captures your attention immediately and forces you to look around for its source. You’ll spot a giant appliqué diamond, spray painted gold, on the front of the brick-walled building. (Longyear admits spray painting things gold to be one of her favorite pastimes).
Next you’ll find some colorful graffiti murals framing its side and a couple of strikingly well dressed and gold painted mannequins at its doors. All of that plus the trendy wares, the eye-catching local art, and the cool people – “or potential friends” as Casey puts it – and you’ll find yourself looking at the results of co-owners Longyear and Wyche’s love of lookin’ good and dedication to the city.
The story behind this secondhand-chic thrift and consignment shop is even more colorful than its façade. Longyear, who at the time was a ready-to-graduate 4th year student at VCU, said that it started out as a list of favorites on her computer of independent labels young people were making all over the world.
“What Marshe and I originally wanted to do was bring here what was never offered here before and was only available in other big cities, the closest being New York or Los Angeles,” said Longyear. “We thought this city had what it took to look that good too.” On the night Longyear graduated, the two friends threw out the idea of having a store.
“That was our dream. We wanted to provide access to these lines and we wanted to have local art on the walls, and local jewelry on the stands,” she said. “We wanted to combine the local with the worldwide, and everything we love about Richmond.” And they did – eventually, they became the first store in the state to carry over 10 independent lines.
However, “That ended up not working so well.” The independent labels they housed, while cheaper than you would find in New York or Los Angeles, were far outside the price range for the area.
“It’s all really mental,” she followed. “If you travel to Carytown you’re willing to spend that money, but if you’re just walking past the store on your way to class, you don’t want to.”
“About a year and a half ago, we realized that we just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “The store was taking everything out of us, money wise.” In a three-day period, the entire stock was emptied on clearance, and became a thrift store.
That took place January 2009, and since then they’ve taken the Fan-district by storm. As this area’s premiere consignment shop, the ladies have provided a great way for their customers to actively take part in the Rumors experience with their simple buying policy.
“Just bring in a bag of stuff, summer clothes in the summer, and winter clothes in the winter. I tell people to bring in cute stuff they just either outgrew, or are over,” she said. “I price it while you’re there, so you can see what I’m going to sell the items at. You’re always paid immediately.”
While you’re in there, you’ll find yourself surrounded primarily by black walls, artfully complemented with gold paint, clever art pieces (which you can purchase, all for around 20 dollars), relaxed conversation, and a very large collection of clothing and accessories for both men and women. They even sell vinyl for the music enthusiast in all of us.
“Everyone who comes in all have some common ground, so really they’re all really just a bunch of potential friends,” Longyear said.
After 3 full years of this, Longyear and Wyche have created a place for just about anyone to go and buy some cool new clothes, meet some cool new people, get inspired, and experience a little more of what Richmond has to offer.
“We couldn’t have done this anywhere else,” Longyear said. “I want Richmond to seem like a cool place to be. This is a place where you can do anything.” And she’s right: after all she and Marshe started out with nothing more than an empty, blue colored building and a very large rent to pay, and now they’ve created something that we can all be a part of.