Podcast: Rundle Street Store
In the heart of Adelaide on one of the city’s liveliest shopping strips, the Red Cross vintage shop sits amongst restaurants, cafes and fashion labels. Step in and you’re greeted by vintage paraphernalia - retro Red Cross posters, art deco wallpaper, chandeliers and an incredible collection of clothing ranging from current to unique vintage pieces. But the most delightful aspect of the store is the people who run it.
I’m Chloe. I’m the store manager here at Rundle Street. I’ve been the manager here for about six years now but been working here and volunteering for eight. I absolutely love, love this store. It’s just the funnest place to come to every day. I just love all my team. We have such a diverse team of volunteers who all get along super well. Love all the fun stock we get every day, all the fun things we find. We have awesome, lovely customers. So many regulars. It’s just a lovely, lovely vibe at Rundle Street.
So, we have a team here of, I think it’s over 35 volunteers now, which is the most we’ve ever had with volunteers. We have quite a diverse range of volunteers here, so we have a lot of uni students, we have a lot of retirees.
Hi, I’m Millie, I’ve been volunteering at the Red Cross shop in Rundle Street in Adelaide since, I think, mid-January this year, 2018. I’m married and I have two teenage children, one, my daughter, actually shops here a lot, which is great, and I do have two doggies and a pussycat, and I work with my husband from home and we run a business where we’re illustrators for the real estate building industry but I have time to volunteer and I love fashion and I love design and I love op shopping and that’s why I’ve, thankfully, found some volunteer work here at Red Cross.
Hi, I’m Caroline. I used to have a physical illness, which I then decided I need to do little, small courses to bide my time. I loved shopping back then and op shopping was one of my mother’s hatred things for me to always do. But in the future, my friend enlisted me into Red Cross volunteering and I got the role. And very soon into the role, I was then asked to actually run Sundays, which was a very big thing for me as I barely went out of home without my mother. And yes, so I ended up with the keys to the shop, which I had to run for myself without help. And I did quite well.
I’m Gurminder Bari. I am originally from India and I moved to Australia in 2010 on a partner visa. In India I was working as a doctor, and when I moved to Australia I tried to get into medicine and I could not. Initially I was living in Sydney, and there I did nothing apart from applying for the jobs and looking for jobs. But last year I moved to Adelaide and, as soon I moved to Adelaide I was looking for some kind of work. I’m also a blood donor and, through that side, I came to know that Red Cross also had op shops where they require volunteers.
I think a lot of the volunteers here really love the creativity of the store. Because we’re a bit of a different store here, you know, we have all the vintage clothing and all the fun quirky bits and bobs here, you know, the volunteers really love the creative side of everything here. Yeah, and being on Rundle Street as well, it’s such an awesome place in Adelaide to volunteer, like, I think everyone just loves the vibe of the street and where we’re located. And we have such lovely customers who love engaging with the volunteers. A lot of the volunteers have got to know so many of the customers quite well, so they interact on a daily basis together. And yeah, it’s just, yeah, really, really lovely culture here at Rundle.
I guess, having worked from home for quite a few years now, it’s great being out amongst people again, and we get a real range of people coming in, they’re not all terribly wealthy people, I think a few are homeless or in boarding houses. I love fashion and I love coming in here to see what’s available every week.
It’s a lovely community and I really look forward to coming in because of the people, like I said before, they’re a great group of people. It’s a lot of fun, and the shop's fantastic, and you can tell a lot of people come in, too, because not only do they love the shop but they obviously really love Chloe and all the other volunteers, so that’s a really good sign that it’s a really comfortable place for them to walk into and feel like they belong, too.
We had a pair of very high heeled pale pink boots, so they had this stiletto heel and they had a nice pale pink fur, well, the whole calf bit was pale pink fur and the rest, I think, was pale leather, and we had them upstairs in Vintage, they looked like they could’ve been maybe early 90s, but I’m not sure. Anyway, they were upstairs for ages and I caught a couple of school girls trying them on, I think they were tried on by a lot of people upstairs, and then during the Fringe earlier this year we brought them down, we’ve got a wardrobe where we put all of our glamorous sequinned evening wear and tutus and all sorts, so they sat in there for a while, and then there was an afternoon when a young man came down the stairs, and he was obviously over for the Fringe, and he had obviously not seen them on the way up, but as he came down, of course, they were right in front of him, and he shrieked, and he just said, oh, my God, at these boots, and then he was just fussing and worrying that they weren’t the right size, and it was like Cinderella. He tried them on and they were his exact size, and the other volunteer, Cathy, was a bit worried about him walking in such high heels but he obviously had mastered stilettos a while ago and he looked like a catwalk model in them, and it absolutely made, I think it made his life, he just felt it was the best day of his life, and it’s fantastic when you see things like that. But, you know, we all said they were waiting for you, and he said I know! So, yeah, it’s great seeing a dress or a pair of shoes or a handbag finally find the person it was meant to be with, so that was a great moment.
A lot of the vintage stuff does sell, and we do get a lot of men and a lot of boys come in, so they head straight upstairs usually, and that’s great to see, that they’re not afraid to go to what is, I guess, seen as an op shop, but it’s a vintage shop, but it’s still, you know? I guess what’s quite amazing about them shopping is that they’re looking for something that’s really different, as well, a lot of them, so that’s fantastic to see young men looking for something that’s not the norm that they’re going to find maybe in a lot of the mainstream stores, so that’s good, so we do tend to sell a lot of menswear. And bags, we sell a lot of bags, and there’s some fantastic bags there too.
Some of the things we’ve had donated, recently there’s obviously been a big trend in men’s 1980s knitwear, but it’s interesting seeing how things come around again, and this knitwear, which is a very, some of it’s asymmetrical, some of the patterns are really colourful, almost Ken Done looking, but not something that I found terribly trendy or cool back in the 80s as sort of like a teenager, but for the teens now it’s really trendy, so that really interesting.
And recently, the menswear is upstairs, and I was walking out of the storeroom and it was during Fringe time, I haven’t seen these two gentlemen again, so I think they came over for the Fridge, but as soon as I walked out one of them, and he must’ve been obviously around 50-something, my age, and as soon as I walked out, he’s right in front of me wearing one of these cardigans, and he just said, do I look like Daryl Sommers to you, and I just said, yes, and that was it, and it was very, and we laughed a lot, so that was a moment. But that’s really interesting, just seeing how things that maybe weren’t considered cool back when I was a young person, and now it’s seen as being really cool.
I have had some struggles through life and now I have allergies where I can’t eat a lot of food, so I’m nearly a coeliac, so I have issues. I never finished school and always thought that I would go back or do a TAFE course. I have the best time and the best, like, feelings when I come here. I feel safe and welcomed and things like that.
Yes, it totally all was because of the Red Cross organisation helping me here and taking me for who I am and valuing me for when I can and can’t do things. And there was no, like, rudeness or anything about it. If I was feeling sick I was feeling sick. It was just something that they had to deal with and they were very nice about it.
It’s nice that it’s such a warm and, I think, a really creative environment, too, it’s just got a great vibe to it, this store, and it’s very welcoming.
I feel very funny about saying this but imagine if I was still here in ten years. I don’t know. I hope so.