Once upon a time a festival lovin', vintage wearing couple saw a colourful stall at Glastonbury and decided that one day they too would sell their retro clothing at a music festival.
Fast forward a few years and Kinky Melon's Retro Boutique is a regular fixture on the Great British festival circuit with a loyal following of vintage clothing fanatics who say that buying from us is as much part of their festival experience as cider with breakfast and dancing barefoot in the rain.
Last weekend we headed off to the beautiful Cotswolds, the location for the last ever (sob!) Cornbury Festival. As with most festivals the workers have to get there a few days before the fun loving public, so we left home on Wednesday and spent the day setting up so that our Thursday could be lazy, sitting in the sun with our festival trading family, some of whom we only see once or twice a year.
All I can say is thank goodness we had a chance to catch up with our mates beforehand because once the festival gates were thrown open at 9am on Friday it was pretty much full on for the entire weekend. I don't think we managed more than a Good Morning! between us and and our trading neighbours until sunset.
Despite the blistering heat we did a roaring trade in Harris Tweed jackets. We don't just stock our stall with festival friendly clothes, vintage aficionados are always on the look out for cool things to add to their wardrobes regardless of whether they're seasonably appropriate. Whilst some customers will try on a dress or a loud silk shirt, buy it and leave wearing it (that's why we wash everything, it's ready to wear), others will purchase a wool suit for a wedding, a swimsuit for a holiday or gloves for a themed event.
Traditionally a quiet day for trade, by mid-afternoon on Friday we'd already taken more than the entire weekend at last month's Acoustic Festival. Selling a 1970s belted tweed jacket and a couple of vintage silk cravats to some cool looking blokes Jon asked if he knew them as they looked familiar. They replied, We're the Kaiser Chiefs, mate. I'm not sure if the jacket was worn on stage for their headline slot, by that point we were too knackered to contemplate walking three minutes round the corner to the main stage to have a look.
If we thought Friday was busy then it was nothing compared to Saturday. Not only was the weekend a sell out but all 15,000 day tickets had also been sold and by lunchtime we were starting to think that every single one of those fifteen thousand people had visited our pitch. Our neighbour Mandy was wearing one of those gadgets that measure your steps and, like us, hadn't been further than the portaloos since 9am. When she checked her measurement at 3pm she'd clocked 5 miles. I'm pretty sure we did about the same as I've managed to lose 4 lbs in weight since I left the house on Wednesday morning.
It was so crazy that it was gone 2pm by the time I'd cracked open my first can and man, Morrison's gin & slimline tonic never tasted so good! Forget the meals we'd planned to cook over the weekend, we existed on olives, cheese, cherry tomatoes and falafel - anything we could chew quickly between customers.
At 10pm we called it a day, rolled down the shop front and caught the second half of Bryan Adams' set. Summer of '69 was my sixth form anthem when we were taking our A Levels back in 1984 but barring Everything I Do, which I hate with a passion, I'd forgotten just how many decent hits he'd had. Bryan didn't look half bad either. What made the evening even more magical was that it was so warm I was out in my sequined bustier and bare feet with no need for a coat. It was like being back in Corfu.
Directly opposite our pitch was The Disco Shed and after the main stage closed it continued banging out some proper hardcore early 1990s house and shoe-gazing Madchester classics accompanied by dry ice and trippy projected images until midnight. Although we were tempted to hang out and dance we needed to be open by 9am the next day so off to bed we went. We slept like babies despite a full-on rave going off inches away from the van.
Sunday was no less quiet and within a couple of minutes of opening we'd already made two sales. The shop was starting to look seriously bare in places so we had a bit of a switch round to make the rails a little more enticing. Between customers we started scribbling a to-do list in readiness for our next festival which included things to hunt down in charity shops this week, sewing another three dozen wired headbands and knocking up 15 or so cropped gypsy tops as we'd sold out of all of them (big love to Jayne for sending me another box of fabulous vintage fabric which should keep me going.)
I took advantage of the traditional Sunday afternoon lull to have a wander round the festival site. It was the first chance I'd had to see it properly set up as it was still being built on Thursday morning when we'd last roamed away from our stall.
The workshop taught kids how to transform previous years' festival flags into raggedy bunting.
Good to see the Towersey Festival being promoted, we're trading there for the first time in August.
With an on-site Waitrose, VIP areas, a G&T bar and silver service fine dining, Cornbury ain't called Poshstock for nothing. When a rather well spoken gent gave us his credit card as surety when he took a jacket away to show his wife, the name on the card revealed that he was a peer of the realm. But there's loads of lovely, down-to-earth, normal people too and it's an absolute joy meeting up with them every year. (Hello, girls! Have a great time in Crete.)
Even her Maj popped in. Don't you love the loo roll hanging off her court shoe?
Isn't it always the way? No sooner had I left for my 20 minute walkabout Jon had a another rush of customers and also managed to apprehend two teenage shoplifters trying to make off with one of our 1970s Harrington jackets.
I hadn't seen Heidi (Shilpa Silver) since we
stalked met Devendra Banhart at End Of The Road (here) last year. Hopefully we'll be neighbours again this year so should have more time to chat, catch a few acts and hang around the signing tent again.
I hadn't seen Heidi (Shilpa Silver) since we
At 7.30 pm Mandy came rushing into the shop to tell me that she'd just heard the opening lines to Don't Get Me Wrong so, leaving Jon and her husband Orr to hold the fort ran off and caught 15 minutes of The Pretenders' set.
What can I say? Chrissie Hynde is an absolute babe. Her voice was utter perfection and if I look half as good as she does at 65 I'd be deliriously happy.
Being trading neighbours means
robbing promoting one another's stock - Mandy's wearing one of my wired headbands and I'm in her metallic cat's ears (originally intended for the kids but you're never too old to be a cat).
Previously we've been able to get right to the front of the stage and dance in the mosh pit. This year was insanely busy and we couldn't get close. Looking over the vast crowds dancing with their hands in the air was more reminiscent of Glasto than Cornbury.
After three songs we dashed back to our stalls and let the menfolk have a chance to catch some of the action. I had to get a photo of Dylan, daughter of mates Simon & Donna of Homegrown, she's the coolest teenager I know. She bought the denim flares from us at the End of the Road a couple of years ago and the Bronson of California 1970s safari jacket was this year's Kinky Melon purchase, she found the parrot sunnies at Glastonbury. Isn't she stunning?
At 9.30 pm we closed up, grabbed a drink and sprawled on a blanket in front of the main stage listening to the Cornbury's final ever act, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, not really our thing but fitting for a grand finale and the fireworks after the show were pretty amazing.
Jon went to sleep sitting up.....its a hard life!
And that was Cornbury. Sun drenched, tropically hot and fabulous, amazing company, ace customers and, best of all, trade-wise, it was a record breaker. We sold over half our stock, improved our tans and worked our arses off. We've got 8 days to unpack, recover, shop, sew then repack and start all over again at Truck.
Cheers, Cornbury! We're gonna miss you.
See you soon!
Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday.