Off the beaten path of Main Street sits a vintage shop housing timeless threads, vinyl, kicks, jewelry and rare trinkets. At the heart of this Huntington Beach gem stands a Southern California native whose dream was to open her own vintage store—a dream that came true with a little timing, luck and hair loss. Meet Michelle Fechtig and her charming downtown retail boutique, 1 Look Vintage.
Born and raised in Redondo Beach, Fechtig constantly found herself surrounded by strips of intriguing shops and the early punk scene. After spending years crunching numbers at her husband's HB-based record label, Fearless Records, Fechtig took a much needed break to focus on raising her two daughters. She eventually made time for her hobby.
"I've always been into vintage," says Fechtig, who frequents local flea markets like the Rose Bowl Flea Market and Long Beach Antique Market. "I started going to a lot of boutiques down on Main Street in Seal Beach, and I met this lady. She owns this one little place called Isabelle's Cabinet. I was like, 'This is my dream store...This is what I want to do.' I just started picking her brain."
Initial plans of launching an online store selling old, new and refurbished denim cutoffs quickly evolved into the vision of a brick and mortar location. "It kind of picked me," Fechtig says of the empty and awaiting retail space she happened upon at 217 Fifth Street one day in 2012. Competing with 14 other hopefuls, Fechtig won the space and opened 1 Look Vintage on June 23, 2012, with the help of her oldest daughter.
Boasting downtown HB's oldest signage, the shop beckons wandering pedestrians through its doors with artfully crafted window displays and stylish mannequins modeling some of 1 Look's finest pieces. One look inside, and eyes are met with a vintage chandelier and nearly a dozen racks featuring apparel in just about every fabric, from polyester to leather, and shoes for beach-goers, cowgirls, punk rockers and everyone in between. Adorned denim cut-offs, flowery hippy blouses, Hawaiian shirts, seasonal ugly Christmas sweaters, overalls, band tees, leather jackets, fringe, Mickey Mouse sweaters—you name it, it's probably here, as are jewelry pieces and vintage vinyl, purses, belts, belt buckles, lunch boxes, eight-track players, hats, guitars, cat figurines, wall art and bicycles.
While the lives of many 1 Look pieces extend through past decades, new and refurbished garments—think patches, elastic add-ons and spikes—are also part of Fechtig's carefully curated collections in her shop and online store. Vintage pieces, which include 90s fashion, are hard to come by—even when sourcing from the best rag houses and specialty dealers in the area. But the hunt is what Fechtig loves most about her work. "It's fun to find the find," she says, noting the rightful attachment she grows to some pieces. New additions arrive every Friday.
To attract shoppers to Fifth Street, Fechtig offers daily deals, like 20% Off Wednesdays and her $5 trunk. She also relies on her kick-ass, social media savvy four-person team to piece together a complete look of the day and pimp it on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. "I'm stoked I have employees," she says, gushing over her young, hip crew who provide the ambient music at 1 Look.
Expanding the shop past its Fifth Street flagship location and online store is a move that Fechtig is not ready to make—one she'll possibly never be ready to make. "I just want my little shop," she says. "There's nothing like it."
One small expansion, however, will happen on Tuesday, January 21, when Main Street welcomes 1 Look to its weekly farmers market and street fair, Surf City Nights. Fechtig and her crew will set up shop in front of El Ranchito every Tuesday evening from 5 to 9 p.m. See UPDATE below.
Fechtig's HB loyalty aligns with the strong community foundation here in Surf City, and while we will support her wherever she goes, we like our vintage local and contained. With each visit we discover a new treasure, and we promise the time spent perusing the racks, rows, crates and displays is time well spent. Fechtig loves visits from locals and out-of-towners alike, though she can be hard to catch. She says she visits the shop "when the wind blows me in," or when she's not shoulder-deep in a rack of treasures.
UPDATE: As of late February, 1 Look no longer sets up shop at Surf City Nights, but you can always head one block north of Main to Fifth for a visit on Tuesday nights.