Many passersby wandering by 30 North Lexington this weekend unwittingly stumbled onto a bargain-shopper’s Brigadoon. A homemade sign guided them to the attic of a downtown shop where a spread of second- hand fashion lay freshly unpacked from the van of traveling fashionista Elle Erickson, otherwise known as the Urban Gypsy. Erickson, who is based in Charlotte, stopped by Asheville as part of a summer trunk show tour. A longtime follower of outdoor festivals such as the Burning Man, Erikson said she strives to bring the same mix of fleeting excitement and Bohemian appeal to her portable sales, which will be popping up like Big Top tents this summer at various places around North Carolina and Georgia.
At Saturday’s sale Erickson, sporting a crocheted rainbow pinafore and plum purple tutu, flitted between customers and a card table that doubled as a cash counter. A self-described shopaholic with a passion for travel and talking to strangers, Erickson, 37, said she naturally gravitated toward the trunk show business three years ago. As the daughter of a clown (Her mom used to perform in parades), Erickson clearly has showgirl in her blood. She describes herself as a “seeker” and said that the trunk sales combine her love of finding fashion treasures and throwing a good party. Saturday’s afternoon sale featured a tarot card reader and chair masseuse.
Sales transactions were added up on a calculator and credit cards were rung through Erickson’s I Phone. With no overhead costs, Erickson is able to pass on huge savings to customers with most clothes priced under $20. Her ever-changing array of clothing is carted back and forth from a friend’s garage to various places across the country that play host for a weekend. She travels several times per year with Asheville being one of her favorite stops.
While I was there in one hour’s time more than twenty people wandered in ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the bargains, many for under $10 a piece. In a nearby makeshift dressing room women clustered together in various stages of undress, trading fashion tips like old college friends.
Meanwhile one five year old hit the glamor girl jackpot, stumbling upon a sequined leotard in poppy red. Spinning around in front of a mirror she felt inspired to try out some fancy dance moves.
“You wanna be the Urban Gypsy poster girl?” Erickson quipped from across the room.
Will the Urban Gypsy ever park her wagon and set up shop? Erickson said that putting down roots in Asheville soon could be in the cards. Citing a recent breakup and a case of wanderlust, she admitted she’s eyeing West Asheville, an up an coming artsy neighborhood, as a place to potentially set up shop. Let’s hope for the sake of Ashevillian wardrobes that this wandering maven of magic decides to park her van, unpack her suitcases and nail a sign above the front door.