B Squad Goes From “C” to “B+”

The vintage store B Squad in Minneapolis used to be in a depressing little space on 38th Street just off Nicollet. I went there once, tried to sort through a rack of t-shirts that were smashed together on a rack, thought about buying some sew-on patches and then didn’t because they were unmarked and I was told that they were probably $3 each. I thought $3 for a patch was ludicrous at the time. The entire store felt as if if was pressing in on you with its little bowls and buckets and boxes of stuff. It just wasn’t for me.

B Squad recently moved into a new space on Nicollet Ave at 35th Street, right on the corner. The space is a lot bigger, giving B Squad’s merchandise room to breathe and its customers room to move.

There are even some pleasant little changing rooms. They have a good mix of stuff,  sorted by “tops” and “bottoms,” mens and womens. So you get to sort through the racks and you might find a fuzzy leopard-print blazer, a blouse with some ruffles, a 50s beaded cardigan.

The have a great selection of dresses – not too kitschy. I mean, you can wear them out without feeling like you’re in costume. You’re not an extra on The Brady Bunch. You’re not Karen Carpenter in a quilted maxi skirt. You can mix these dresses with new accessories – leather boots, a purse, some hip earrings -  and look highly fashionable.

Where they need some help is in display. Let’s get the stuff out of boxes! There are boxes of winter hats, boxes of belts, boxes of scarves… Can these be hung up and displayed in some cute way? It’s fine for Savers and Arc to do that kind of stuff… except they don’t. The big thrifts have their stuff out, hung up, looking colorful and cute and it’s all priced. And B Squad is not a thrift. They are presenting themselves as a vintage store… so it would be nice if it felt less like a rummage.

I hardly think that business at B Squad is SO swift that whomever is working the counter couldn’t spend time unpacking some of this stuff and come up with a way to display it. Even as a customer, I could hardly stop myself from the urge to organize. The end result would be selling more stuff. Example: right before I was about to check out I spied a box of belts sitting on the floor, started digging around in it and found two fabulous belts that I bought but would totally have missed if I hadn’t worked my way back and then did some digging. And getting rid of the boxes would make it feel a bit more “done” in there, not like someone’s roommate is in the process of moving in or moving out.

I was disappointed in the lack of scarves (the ones I was able to find) and clutch purses. But this is just personal taste – things I happen to be looking for right now. It’s definitely worth stopping in and rooting around the racks and boxes. Who knows what lies underneath some of that stuff?

I ended up with the two belts – both sequined, stretchy with great buckles – and a cardigan sweater that might be from the 50s or 60s.

NOTE: Arc Value Village is having it’s 50% off everything in the store sale tomorrow, Saturday, November 1st. Get there early to line up, folks! Fighting the crowds might be more frightening than Halloween.