Looking for a different kind of holiday shopping experience? Sifting through Elle Erickson’s vintage, handmade and generally offbeat clothing and accessories at her traveling trunk show isn’t the kind of retail therapy you can find at the mall. In fact, where the Urban Gypsy trunk show will pop up next has always been something of a sweet surprise for downtown shoppers. But with Erickson making a permanent move from Charlotte to Asheville, customers can expect to see more of her and her eclectic, inexpensive wares.
According to Erickson, shopping should be an event. And she knows how to make it the kind of party to which fashion-oriented Ashevilleans want to be invited. “It feels like more than just a store,” says Erickson, who plans to feature Thai massage and tarot card readings at an upcoming show. “I try to make it a fun experience. I'm an extrovert and I love people. … We dance and we laugh and we get silly — we might even have a mimosa and just keep it light.”
Erickson lived in Charlotte for 13 years — all the while, she says, she dreamed of relocating to Asheville. She visited to set up shop every six months or so. Now that she is local, she plans to hold a trunk show each month. Erickson says Asheville is the perfect place for her business. “It seems like Asheville kind of gets it more than other cities,” she says. “There has to be something kind of funky and different about the item for it to get into the trunk show, and that's kind of how I feel about the people here. They're one-of-a-kind, eclectic, funky, artistic people, so they would gravitate towards that.”
Not only is her aesthetic well-suited to the Asheville customer, but she also says that her trunk shows appeal to eco- and budget-conscious shoppers as well — the average cost of an item is $10. “Everything that I sell is recycled, so there's kind of a guilt-free aspect of shopping, which is nice,” she says. “And it's really budget-friendly for people who are artists and need to watch how much they're spending on their clothes. … I think it will appeal to the tourists and the locals because it's different. When I'm out buying, I have a good eye. Nothing is just your basic thing.” And for customers craving locally sourced fashion, Erickson is also looking to buy clients’ used clothes and incorporate more items from local jewelry-makers and artists.
Though she’s officially an Ashevillean now, Erickson will maintain a bit of her wanderlusting ways and isn’t planning on signing a lease for a permanent spot. At least, not yet. She says she will “pop around to different places to keep it fresh. … I don't know about landing somewhere. I haven't figured that out yet. I'm not sure about the store, but it's definitely a possibility. The trunk shows are fun, but it's a lot of work. So maybe I'll end up on Lexington Avenue before you know it.”
— Lea McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
what: Urban Gypsy trunk show
where: Hyphen Coffeehouse, 81 Patton Ave.
when: Saturday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 22, 1-6 p.m.