Looking through the storefront windows of Dupree’s at 1310 Milwaukee Ave. is like looking through a portal to another time. Rows of vintage dresses hang on racks above checkered floors, flanked by shelves of old-school cloche hats and classic coffeemakers. You can find a little bit of everything at Dupree’s, as long as it was made before 1980.
Formed as the brainchild of three independent vintage businesses – its namesake a secondary character from the ’50s-set John Waters film Cry-Baby – Dupree’s opened last month in South Milwaukee as a passion project to pass on a love of all things vintage and a one-stop shop for mid-century clothing, decor and vinyl.
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“We were selling all this vintage clothing piecemeal online, comparing notes,” says Jo Donner, who owns the store with her friend Natalie “Bonnie Holly” Gajewski. “We realized we had a lot of stuff. We got the idea for the store and within a month we had a building, signed a lease, and opened for business.”
Most of the store’s clothing items are authentic originals from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, though they carry some modern reproductions as well. Donner repurposes vintage clip-on earrings into pierce earrings and sweater clips as a part of the store’s jewelry selection.
Vinyl hunters might find themselves more at home in the store’s record room, stocked courtesy of Swing Boogie Stomp, Gajewski’s husband’s vinyl and DJ business. With bins on each wall packed to the brim with classic vinyl and a record player in the corner to listen before you buy, there’s no reason not to stop in and discover some new old tunes.
Donner says that Dupree’s is trying to host monthly special events, so fans of the mid-century lifestyle should keep an eye on their social media. Donner also says Dupree’s is planning a midwinter ice cream social and an upcoming vintage flash mob at a local restaurant up in Brown Deer.
“This was a labor of love,” says Donner, “even if it took several years before we realized it was in the making. It’s a fun atmosphere, and it’s not just a business — everyone involved lives the lifestyle.”
For more information about Dupree’s and their upcoming events, you can follow them on Facebook.