“Everyone wants Ann Arbor to be funky.”
This is the proclamation of Lindsey Leyland, one of the two owners of The Getup Vintage, a small vintage boutique sandwiched between Totoro Japanese Restaurant and Taste of India on State Street. The boutique boasts an eye-catching storefront (bright purple with turquoise daisies painted around the logo), but the inside of the store, decorated with bright colors and peace signs and a sign that says “You Can Dig It”, is even more…well…funky.
“We need to keep Ann Arbor funky,” Kaylan Mitchell, Leyland’s co-owner, proclaims with a laugh. “Us being here, we’re…”
“We’re one of the last places you can go and get, like, a disco outfit,” Leyland finishes Mitchell’s thought without missing a beat. “There’s so many fun events in Ann Arbor and everyone wants this town to remain hip and that type of thing, but you have to come out and support these types of places or they won’t exist anymore.”
It’s true; as Ann Arbor grows in size, it would be easy for it to lose the eccentric culture that makes it Ann Arbor in the first place. The primary reason that it retains this culture is the efforts of small shops like The Getup. These shops are, essentially, the cornerstone of Ann Arbor’s unique vibe. As soon as people start to overlook them, we lose the trendy, offbeat town we know and celebrate.
The Getup Vintage was founded in 2005 by Kelly and Paul McLeod, and it found its home in a cozy attic space. Leyland was the first employee, and when she left to run a store in Chicago for a little while, Mitchell was hired in the interim. In 2010, the store moved into the lower-level space it calls home today, and in 2015, the McLeods transferred ownership to Leyland and Mitchell. Since then, Leyland and Mitchell have streamlined the store to cater to vintage clothing buyers. Every item in the store is hand-selected and washed by Leyland and Mitchell, meaning that the store is essentially the exact opposite of a thrift store, where you might have to dig for hours to find something of value.
“It used to be a lot more packed full of stuff, which in its own, is really interesting, but in a college town, we felt like streamlining vintage is probably the best way to go,” Leyland explains.
“We wanted to create just like a bright welcoming space that like all these items, like they’re super special, but you should be able to see them and appreciate them,” adds Mitchell.
Mitchell and Leyland have curated an eye-catching assortment of clothing items and accessories. Every item stands proudly on display, giving the small store a bright, fun appearance. Stepping into the store feels a bit like stepping each of your feet into the best part of a different decade. It’s simultaneously nostalgic and exciting.
The Getup is a haven for all sorts of shoppers, whether they’re lifelong vintage-lovers or they were just drawn in by the bright storefront. Mitchell specifically cites “18-34 year olds” as their target market, but the two fondly reminisce about their shoppers of all ages, including, apparently, Ryan Gosling and the “total government dude” who often stops in to buy cufflinks.
“Madonna’s daughter, I dressed her a bunch of times when she went to U of M,” Leyland adds nonchalantly. “I altered a bunch of clothing for her, she bought a bunch of stuff here… You don’t just see one type of person, we get to interact and be around every type of person and that I think that’s really special. This type of store draws all types of people. We like to have a little sanctuary for the little punk kids to come, for the sorority girls to find Champion sweatshirts.”
The Getup is in a unique position to come across such an eclectic consumer base. After all, it’s located right on State Street, and you would be hard-pressed to find an out-of-town visitor who doesn’t pass by the storefront at least once. Leyland and Mitchell note that the hospital brings a lot of their customers, as people explore downtown after their appointments. They also cite the Michigan Theater, which is just across the street, as a huge driver of sales. Apparently, bands like to stop in The Getup to get some shopping done after sound check.
When it comes to the logistics of keeping Ann Arbor funky, Leyland and Mitchell have it down to a science, thanks in part to their differing backgrounds. Although they’re both creative, Leyland’s creativity translates more directly to the clothing, while Mitchell’s creativity runs the business side of things.
“I always was obsessed with vintage at a very young age,” Leyland recalls. “I was a theatre costumer for a long time. I just really loved the quality, the sustainability, the designs…It was always my dream that I would have a boutique, and then I found Kaylan and I wrangled her into it.”
Mitchell laughs, not appearing to have been wrangled into anything. “I was working both here and at the Michigan Theater, and my strengths were in business management, so I just kind of took everything I learned over there,” she explains.
“Every small business needs a Kaylan!” Leyland exclaims. “We both come with two very strong creative background but they’re different enough that they complement each other.”
Beneath the stylish storefront and their lighthearted demeanors, Mitchell and Leyland both have deeply-seeded reasons for their passions for vintage.
“Ann Arbor is a very environmentally conscious town and buying second hand is wonderful for the environment,” Leyland says. “Every time you purchase something secondhand, you’re doing the environment a wonderful deed.”
Leyland and Mitchell take their environmentally consciousness seriously. In addition to selling secondhand clothes, they hand make all of their soaps and detergents from sustainable ingredients, and they run the store on solar power. In all of their actions, they demonstrate a keen awareness that in order to keep Ann Arbor funky, they must first keep it healthy.
“It’s not weird to buy second hand,” Leyland says. “It shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable. So we try to go out and find these special treasures that have so many lives left in them. We hope people come in and find things to add to their wardrobe, and in the same breath you’re doing our planet a wonderful service and keeping Ann Arbor cool.”