Friday, September 23, 2016

Vintage Memories You Can Wear

What's a retired school principal to do when she's got a large collection of vintage clothing, records and photos? In the case of Elizabeth Pfeffer Williams, she opens up a vintage costuming and memories shop in downtown Covington in a building her father owned near his attorney's office. 

"Rosemary's Closet" features just about anything one would need to jog a few memories from the 1950's and beyond, from aprons and jackets to boots and dresses. She also has on display a large number of photos, posters, and sheet music from years gone by, including several featuring Elvis, the King. 

Located on the inside curve of the downtown pocket park on Tammany Trace near the corner of New Hampshire and Gibson Streets, the shop has brought her and her friends many hours of delightful reminiscing. She's open two days a week, plus "by appointment," so the venture doesn't take away too much from her family and grandfamily activities. 

She served in the school system as a teacher and administrator for 33 years, and now she is enjoying minding the shop, meeting visitors to Covington, and interacting with the young people who have re-discovered the clothing styles of long ago, as well as the joy of listening to vinyl LP's and 45's.

"People come to me looking for clothing for themed weddings and birthday parties," she said. "And the English Tea Room has those themed teas every month, so I have a lot of people coming in and looking at hats for those events."

She has also had a number of movie costume directors visit her shop. Whenever there's a movie being shot in Covington, she can expect to be discovered by the costumer. With her low prices, they are often overwhelmed by what's available. "They've come in here with empty roll-around clothes racks and just filled them up for the movie production," she said. 

Often visitors from out of state, many of them staying at the Southern Hotel, will come by the shop to enjoy the walk down memory lane, trying on things, and asking for advice on where to eat and what to do while in Covington. "I have menus from local restaurants that I just give them," she noted. One time two visitors arrived at her door, not only from out of state staying at the Southern Hotel, but also having done their homework ahead of time seeking out vintage clothing stores in the area to visit while they were here.

"I meet a lot of interesting people," she smiled. "They come and take pictures with me."

The shop was scheduled to open on August 30, 2005, but a windstorm named Katrina had other ideas. The doors were officially opened in November of that year. The shop is named in honor of her mother Rosemary.

Keeping things interesting is her specialty, changing inventory seasonally, and making sure there is a variety of new items to keep return customers happy. Elizabeth has been honored by the Playmakers theater group for her costuming efforts, and two years ago she won the Best Actress award for her on-stage performance. 

With her many years in the school system, on theater stages, and with a solid Covingtonian background, there are many people who have come to rely on her shop, her knowledge and her expertise. She does all this to help bring a smile to people's faces, and they appreciate her efforts to help them recapture the look and feel of happier times. "I just tell them to come play dress up," she said.