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Shopping: Sideshow Moves to Hudson

When Club Helsinki closed last year, “It broke my heart,” says Meri Avratin (left), who had been a bartender there for over seven years.  “I still miss it.  For me, it was the cultural epicenter of the Berkshires, and I loved being part of it.”  With the center ring suddenly dark, Avratin cast about for something new to do, and, a year ago, she opened Sideshow Clothing Co., purveyors of vintage and used clothing for men and women, in Sheffield, MA.  Recently, she relocated her store from the tiny space it had occupied on Route 7, just south of Great Barrington, to a much larger storefront across from the park in the 700 block of Warren Street in Hudson.

“A sideshow is hyperbolic, exaggerated,” Avratin explains.  “It’s a place where people who are different, people on the fringe, can find work and community.  I have always been intrigued by that.” 

News of the move spread fast on Facebook, where it created lots of buzz.  Offerings of best wishes came from such diverse quarters as the writer Roselle Chartock, wife of WAMC chair Alan Chartock, Deborah McDowell, co-owner of Club Helsinki, and Crispina Ffrench, Pittsfield’s renowned knitwear recycler.

Avratin’s motives for moving were varied, as well.  “I wanted more space and to be where there would be more foot traffic,”  she says. Unforeseen benefits include,  “I like the diversity over here.  Also, people in Hudson are more much adventurous about their clothes than in the Berkshires.  They like to be noticed.” 

“Mod, vintage, and 100% recycled”  is how Avratin characterizes the Sideshow look.  “I’m not big on fashion philosophy.  I don’t have a lot of very fancy things. My aesthetic is more funky.  I like vintage style, but it doesn’t have to be really old, it’s enough to look retro.”  Affordable and functional are other comfort zones.  “A guy can come in here and find Carhartts and cowboy boots,” she says. “I get a lot of feedback that the prices are very reasonable.”

Warren Street habitue Kitty Mackey (shown browsing, above) concurs.  “For someone like me, who might be looking for something to jazz up our mainstream clothes—J. Crew, Banana Republic—we can find something fun here— or maybe even a treasure—for $15.”

Born in the Berkshires and raised in Great Barrington, Avratin is a second-generation scavenger.  “My mother used to be an antiques dealer.  She has an incredible eye.  When we were kids, she used to bring us over to Hudson because she thought the buildings were so beautiful.”

Asked where she finds her merchandise, Avratin replies with a smile, “People always ask me that.  But I’ll never tell.”

Sideshow Clothing Co.
707 Warren Street
Hudson, NY; 518.828.2810

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/09/10 at 05:40 AM • Permalink