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May 11, 2013

Main Street shop offers peace, love

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The hippie consignment shop Shakedown Street, located at 167 Main St. in Oneonta, is a tribute of sorts to the late Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.

The store sells consignment and vintage clothing and accessories as well as artisan jewelry, locally screened tee-shirts, Fair Trade clothing and imported items from places including India, Peru, Morocco and Mexico.

Grateful Dead tunes and subtle incense greet shoppers as they enter the store.

“I started this shop as a way to pay for college,” said Vicki Reiss, owner of Shakedown Street. “I was on tour, following Jerry when he passed, and I came home. I was 22 at the time. I went back to school and opened my first store front down by Sal’s Pizza.”

Shakedown Street moved to its current location about a year ago.

“We sold hand-made clothes, consignments — other stuff,” Reiss said. “It was more of a hippie, head shop then.”

The store has evolved to meet the community’s needs and Reiss’s lifestyle.

After returning to school, Reiss graduated and began to pursue a master’s degree. She became a social worker with Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth while she continued to run Shakedown Street.

Reiss retired from social work in April 2012. She hopes to expand Shakedown Street to locations in Cobleskill and Norwich as she has customers from surrounding communities coming to Oneonta to shop at her store.

“I come in with my daughter from time to time,” said Cindy Crandall, of Laurens, who recently was shopping at Shakedown Street. “We like to switch out our wardrobe. We consign too. It is a great place.”

Crandall’s daughter, Rebbecca Johnson, of Oneonta, tried on several outfits.

“They have some nice things,” Johnson said.

Reiss said her clientele varies from college students to working professionals. She sells a variety of goods associated with the image of the 1960s flower child — including macramé, lap drums and tie dye. She also carries a large amount of locally made items.

“A lot of my stuff is new, a much smaller percentage is the recycled clothing,” Reiss said.

Reiss makes jewelry and clothing that she sells at her shop. She also goes to various music festivals where she sells her crafted goods.

“Festival season is almost here and I don’t have a lot of stuff done yet,” Reiss said. “Most people would get their stuff together over the summer, but not me. I like crunch time.”

Shakedown Street fared better than many retail store during the economic downturn. The recycled, hippie-chic clothing appealed to many high school and college students. Because of the criteria the store adheres to concerning the items accepted for consignment, Reiss said the customers are usually happy with their purchases.

“Women, especially, will shop no matter what,” Reiss said. “When the economy is bad, our business gets better. But I think people appreciate nice things and want hand-made things. I think there is always a niche for that.”