Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Mod's Shopping Guide To Las Vegas - Part I

If you're a Mod visiting Las Vegas on vacation, that Lady Luck has smiled at you at the craps table, that you have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket and that you have a day to spare, then this is the guide for you! Forget about the Lonely Planet, Parka Avenue will reveal all the Mod friendly places you must visit. You'll find out where you can stretch your dollar and pack your suitcase full of goodies. You will also learn about the places you should avoid like the plague.

Rarely do I visit an American city without leaving with a record or two. Well, this will be the exception. It's still hard to believe that I didn't manage to put my hands on a single 45. In this desert oasis, you basically have two options: Record City and Wax Trax.

I didn't even bother visiting Wax Trax. The place has such a bad reputation for having a crazy owner, that will charge you 5 times the going price for a record, that I didn't waste my time. I was thinking of going just to have a good story for this blog but I had more important ground to cover. All you need to do is check the Yelp reviews and you'll understand why he has the lowest possible score of 1 out of 5 stars.

So that left me with Record City. The place is central and easily accessible. It's clean, well organised and has a decent selection of LPs and 45s.

Like most record shops I visit, the more interesting records are behind the counter. After a quick search through the $1 to $20 rows, I asked if I could have a look at the more valuable records. 

As soon as the owner saw me with my portable Sound Burger record player, he quickly stated:

- You can't use that here.
- Oh... I see. I'm usually extremely careful...
- It doesn't matter. Those are expensive records.
- I understand. I'm here to buy. If I'm going to spend good money for a record, I would like hear it before I purchase it. Do you have a turntable?
- No. I had one but it's broken.

Well, that started on a chilly note. One of the first singles I pulled out was Darrell Banks - Open The Door To You Heart, with the B side - Our Love (Is In The Pocket) - being my favorite track. I gasped when I saw $100 on it with a grading of G+ on the paper sleeve.

I noticed that the owner had seen my reaction.

- I'm sorry. I'm just taken aback by the prices.
- These are rare records, you know.
- Well then I must have been lucky because I paid no more then $20 for this Darrell Banks record.
- No, that's what it goes for. Most of these records came from Wax Trax.

That explains a lot! While I was going through the rest of the boxes, he actually went on the net to verify if what I was saying was true. He later confirmed that there was a copy on eBay for $30. When I stumbled on The Whatusi by The Orlons for $20, I had enough. I see copies at $2 on a regular basis. What a disapointment.

Fortunately, there are bargains to be found in Vegas. Every cloud has a silver lining and that place is Glam Factory Vintage. Owner and Vespa rider Stephanie is the sweetest gal you'll come accross in Vegas. Her husband is a Lambretta rider himself so they make it hard not to want to spend your casino earnings there. And you won't leave broke because her prices are the best odds in town and the selection is second to none.

What I like about the shop, aside from the onwer's charming personnality, is that every piece of clothing has been sourced locally. Who knows, you might just leave with a cardigan that was owned by Frank or Sammy at one point.

Eric, proudly wearing his vintage threads, welcoming you with a smile.
She confided in me that a good portion of her clientele are burlesque dancers. Maybe if I hang around long enough...

A vintage 60s black and white dress that I bought as a gift for my wife.
Stephanie had set up a booth at the High Rollers rally site and although I arrived Friday night, I still managed to put my hands on some great pieces for less then a few turns at the black jack table. I got a light weight navy mac, made by Boston Harbor, will be perfect for scooter outings on chilly summer nights. And so will this Lee early 70s polyester burgundy jacket.

Another similar 70s light blue jacket had my name on it. I must be the jacket wisperer because I swear I could hear it say: "Take me... Take me..." What about this 60s v-neck sweater? If this doesn't scream Mod then I don't know what will.

Yes Mr. President...

Not to far from Glam Factory Vintage is Electric Lemonade. This other vintage clothing shop might hide a few treasures but as hard as I looked, I didn't find anything that met Parka Avenue standards. The clothes were not as prestine and the prices were a bit higher. Like any vintage shop, it pays to go on a regular basis. But if you're an out of town visitor with a limited amount of time, go directly to Glam Factory Vintage.

You have to admit that the blue dress on the mannequin is quite nice.

Hungry after all that shopping? Do I have a great local family owned restaurant for you! A stone's throw from Electric Lemonade is Simpo Sandwiches. You can't get more authentic then that and above all it's DELICIOUS! It's the best thing since sliced bread! Well... You get the picture.

Any place that has the XM radio set to 60s Soul is already OK in my book. Plus the small shrine dedicated to the first black President makes it all the more inviting.

But the mouth watering, fresh sandwiches is the icing on the cake. Well... You get the picture.
I had the Tuscan Italiano and it was heavenly. They make their own blend of spices that can be added to pretty much anything you fancy and with a name like Soul D'licious, I had to leave with a bottle.

Finally, if your shopping bag isn't full just yet, you might want to head over to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets. A good 15 minutes walk from the Downtown Arts District, you'll find all your Mod approved brands like Brooks Brothers, G.H. Bass & Co., Clarks and Levi's. I'm not big on shopping malls but when you can get a pair genuine Bass Weejuns or Clarks desert boots at 50% off, it might be worth the walk over there.

If you plan a trip to Las Vesgas any time soon, don't forget to leave some room in your suitcase. You'll thank me later.


  1. Great blog post! Thank you for giving business in Downtown Las Vegas a really good shout out! Much appreciated!
    Ellie Clinton Issa, Dealer 54
    Sin City Pickers Antiques & Collectibles Mall

  2. Thanks Ellie! I will talk about Sin City Pickers (only good things) in Part II. Stay tuned.

  3. The Beat coffee house next to the El Cortez was OK. nice "un-vegas" place to chill and have a cuppa. they had a small lot records for sale, but I did not look through them. The "new" downtown culture emerging along with its arts district was nice to see. something to look forward to in future vegas trips.

  4. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I'm impressed!