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Carytown institution breathes new life into vintage treasures

RICHMOND, Va. -- Olivia Lloyd and Kath Parker share a common thread and deep appreciation for fashion at Bygones in Carytown.

“I mean it is Christmas every day here,” Parker said.

The pair work with garments from another time at a place nestled between New York and Hollywood: a boutique that is a treasure trove of vintage finds.



May Cayton opened her store when bell bottoms were the rage.

Cayton said. “The fabrics themselves are made to last. I think clothing and jewelry evoke the past.

The 67-year-old’s fashion compass always points backward.

“The reason it’s a good business is because it comes from a time when clothing was not mass produced,” Cayton explained.

Cayton stocks everything from the roaring 20s to the sizzling 60s, but there is one style you won’t find hanging around.

“It’s hard to wear the Victorian. I don’t go back that far because we’re not as petite as we used to be," Cayton said. '[We] don’t want to be corseted anymore.”

A customer browses in Bygones.

A customer browses in Bygones.

But these are not your big brother’s hand me downs.

“My favorite days are buying days because people will come in with a box that hasn’t been opened for 50 years,” Cayton said.

Cayton's business model is to offer what other bricks and mortar stores can’t.

“I love the back stories. That is the benefit from buying from the original owner," Cayton said. "This was worn to see Elvis at the Mosque.”

Cayton remembers falling for the golden era of glamour while growing up in Europe.

“We spent all of our time going to flea markets, and thrift shops and antique shops,” says May.



Contrary to what people may think, this clothing connoisseur does not believe she was born in the wrong era.

“Because I am very much a feminist," Cayton revealed. "Very much that I can draw from the different periods of history and I don’t have just one. I love them all.”

Longtime customer Eddie Walters calls his many Bygone purchases investments.

“They stand out more," Walters said. "Like these pants you can’t go and buy these pants that Tommy across the street has. I’m very thankful they’re here.”

Like hem lines or lapel widths, Cayton’s landmark store is evolving

“One reason we’re able to stay in business is that we’re able to change,” Cayton said.

Bygones is now generating sequined sales through social media. Buyers from Australia to England scoop up their offerings in seconds. Some pieces sell for thousands of dollars.

A staffer examines a dress designed for a "night of frivolity."

A staffer examines a dress designed for a "night of frivolity."

“It was meant to last. It was meant to last a night of dancing. A night of frivolity,” says Olivia Lloyd.

Cayton never thought she’d still be in business, but Bygones, like quality clothing, is standing the test of a stitch in time.

“It definitely was wearable art. The craftsmanship was so much better,” Cayton said. “I’d have to say I didn’t, but it was like stepping on a moving train -- and here we are almost 40 years later.”

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