Ooollee Bricker sells clothes with a history

Ooollee Bricker, owner of Vintage Ooollee on Broad Street, says she learned the value of older pieces at yard sales with her mother.

There’s no telling what Ooollee Bricker will wear to work on a given day.

Whether it’s the bride of Frankenstein, Cleopatra or a look inspired by the 1960s Jackie O aesthetic, part of her job as owner of Vintage Ooollee is greeting her customers with a one-of-a-kind look.

Vintage Ooollee is a vintage exclusive store, and Bricker estimates she has thousands of pieces ranging from 1970s miniskirts to flapper dresses.

This summer, Bricker aquired the costume inventory from former Fat Man’s Forest and turned half of the store space into costume rentals. She has racks of costumes arranged chronologically, a wall full of hats and professional-grade Mehron makeup for sale.

“They’re really a perfect match,” she said of adding costumes to her vintage business. “Most of my costumes are vintage, and it’s easy to turn vintage pieces into costumes as well.”

Bricker opened Vintage Ooollee in May 2008, but she has been collecting vintage clothing her entire life.

“I’ve always liked other people’s stuff,” she said.

Her mom taught her the ropes of shopping at yard sales, auctions and flea markets, and Bricker said she was about 12 years old when she became passionate about hunting for clothing from another time.

“I just realized the quality of older clothing,” she said. “It was made better, the lines were cleaner and the fabrics were so much better.”

Bricker said her customers are people who appreciate that quality and design, and want to wear clothing with a history.

“It’s somebody who’s looking for quality constructed clothing, or somebody who has a true love for a particular era,” she said.

The clothing hanging on the racks come from individuals who call Bricker, often after a loved one has died and family members are going through closets and need to do something with all the stuff. She believes she is giving those beloved items a better fate than just being dropped off at a thrift store or even thrown away.

“Clothes are very personal,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t even want to go through them, it’s that hard.”

She washes and mends the clothes before selling them. When her customers buy an item, she sees it as giving the piece a new life.

“It’s going to get a good home,” she said.

Before the shop, Bricker worked in bookkeeping for Georgia Health Sciences University. She didn’t hate it, but it was stressful and when the chance to open her own shop came up, she jumped at it.

A friend of hers owned a vintage shop in Savannah, and was moving locations and wanted to sell her inventory rather than move it. She called Bricker, and in the span of a few weeks she had a store.

“She said, I need it out in three weeks,” Bricker said. “Things moved quickly.”

She and her husband, John Bricker, owned the Avrett’s Hardware building on Broad Street and had been talking about opening up a general store or some other business. The vintage store opportunity came, and now Bricker says she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“I love what I do,” she said. “That’s important.”

Ooollee (Caren) Bricker

HOMETOWN: Augusta

EDUCATION: Aquinas High School; B.A. in Art, LaGrange College

FAMILY: John Bricker, husband

HOBBIES: collecting, fishing, traveling, historical research

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