Can you believe our vintage clothing shop turns 30 years old this week?
It was 1985. I knew I wanted to open a vintage clothing shop. I thought I would find a spot in Hoboken, the current “hip” city. But rents were high, and it didn’t look like I was going to find a location before Christmas season. Until I saw an ad in the paper for stores in Red Bank. I didn’t know anything about Red Bank, but I visited and was charmed. It seemed to be up and coming, and I could afford it.
The store was on the lower level of a small shopping mall. It had a comic book shop and other cute stores. And it was available before the end of the year. So, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, 11/30/85, Backward Glances opened its doors.
Here’s one of our first newspaper ads. Notice in the advertisement, we only sold clothing up to the 1960’s. The seventies were too recent, and the eighties were current! The Monkees were popular again, being rebroadcast on MTV. We started selling retro style t-shirts, which we were made by our friend Dennis Diken (before he hit it big with the Smithereens).
We showed Beatles videos, Hullabaloo episodes, and 50’s rock movies on Saturdays on a small television hooked up to Betamax video cassette player. When I was bored, I hung out in the hallway with Dave Wyndorff, who managed the comic book store (before he hit it big with the band Monster Magnet).
We spent 13 months at 80 Broad Street, and then it was time to move to a bigger, more visible location. We only moved a couple of doors down: 15 Monmouth Street was our home for the next 16 years.
We became the well-known vintage clothing shop on the Jersey shore. We ran regular ads on WHTG-FM106.3, the rock alternative radio station. We were thrilled to be part of the local (and sometimes national) music scene, supplying musicians with stage clothes. Here’s a couple of happy shoppers from 1993:
Our turquoise and pink 1959 AMI jukebox became part of the store in 1991. It remains a customer favorite.
During the swing revival of the 1990’s, we started vending at swing and rockabilly shows at the Leopard Lounge in Sayreville.
In 1999, we started backwardglances.com, and started selling worldwide. We love helping people from all over put together the perfect outfit!
Halloween started getting crazy at the Monmouth Street location. We began to have Halloween preview days in September. In later years, they became a fundraiser for various disaster relief charities. Former WHTG DJ Bart Cross Tierney did the record spinning at our first preview day. Bart was a customer on our first day in business back in 1985, and we are still playing some of his music mix during Halloween seasons in 2015.
We spent 16 years at 15 Monmouth Street, and celebrated our milestone 10th, 15th, and Sweet 16 birthdays there. TriCity News said regarding our 15th birthday: “Today, the store that takes an adoring if sometimes ironic look at trends past is not only thriving at the dawn of the new millennium but embracing the future as much as the past. Their website puts their disco-booty clad feet firmly into the dot com age. And the brick and mortar joint still delivers retro manna from heaven for the serious collector and novelty seeker.”
But changes were still to come. We got word from our landlord that he was selling the building and we had to move. So off we went, lock, stock and jukebox to our new home: 43 Broad Street, at the intersection of White Street. Moving on up to the main drag in Red Bank.
The Hub newspaper reported: “Despite the move, Backward Glances retains the same quirky, generation-spanning personality that appeals to a customer base ranging from grandparents to their teenage progeny.”
If we had to move, it was just an excuse to have a party. Our grand reopening party spanned two days, and featured a performance by the band Where’s Mary.
On Broad Street, we were open 7 days a week, and open 6 nights a week from June through December. We supplied our famous neighbors at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash with silly costumes to wear on their “Comic Book Men” TV show.
The eighties were now totally in style. It was hard to imagine, since we had opened our store in 1985. We did promotions with the retro arcade “Yestercades” in Red Bank.
In 2010, we reached the milestone of 25 years in business. We decided to celebrate with a customer appreciation party, and make it special. Musicians (and customers) Glen Burtnik, Nicole Atkins, and Rick Fink showed up to play their favorite dance tunes. along with special DJs Sean Carolan and Molly Liefer Lenz of the long-gone WHTG, Lenny Lounge from our Leopard Lounge days, and Scott Stamper from the Saint music club in Asbury Park.
We spent 12 years at 43 Broad street, but Red Bank was changing. Mom and Pop businesses were closing, and chains like Tiffany’s and Urban Outfitters were moving in. It was losing the charm that attracted me so many years ago, and rents were going sky high. So after 28 years, I made the difficult decision to leave.
But where to go? I checked out Asbury Park. It seemed to be up and coming, and I could afford it.
The store was on the lower level of a small shopping mall. It had a record store/comic book shop and other cute stores. So, on 2/1/14, we opened our doors at our present location in the Shoppes at the Arcade.
Our old friend Scott Stamper of the Saint helped us with our grand opening party, with a performance by Richard Bacchus. Elvis stopped by, too. We’re happy to be part of the Asbury music scene, and participate in the Asbury Underground music crawls. And we’re back to vending at rockabilly, surf and swing shows, as well as punk rock flea markets and pop up bazaars.
So happy birthday to us, and may we have many more!