Amber Burkhart has always enjoyed dressing in threads from the past, often donning 1950s-era clothing in high school. “I’d wear vintage hats and big poodle skirts and all my friends were like, ‘Something is wrong with her.’ But I always loved it, and that era,” she says.
It’s only fitting that Burkhart has parlayed this fascination with vintage duds into a business. Last week, after nights spent steaming garments until 1 a.m., Amberjoy’s Vintage Closet opened its doors on Main Street.
Inside the shop, display cases and racks showcase items sourced from thrift stores and garage and estate sales across the country. A dark purple housecoat, described by Burkhart as “very Lucille Ball,” hangs near two pristine ’50s waitressing uniforms, complete with hooks for name tags. A nearby shelf is topped with hard-sided Samsonite luggage and prim ladylike gloves.
Although the store features clothes from a number of different eras, Burkhart is steering the bulk of her wares to the rockabilly genre, a look popularized in the 1950s—think sultry Bettie Page and defiant James Dean. In the near future, she plans to release her own rockabilly-inspired clothing line for men and women, including wedding dresses and crinolines, the fluffy underpinnings that give the period skirts their oomph.
Also on tap are consignment services, a pin-up photography studio and a host of vintage life-style events.
“I want to have beauty classes, hair classes, pinup classes, burlesque classes,” she says. “I’ll be reaching out to the community for people who are professionals in those areas who’d like to come volunteer their time, or charge for a course, to be able to do it.”
For Burkhart, the store is the culmination of a nine-year dream funded through her work as an interior designer and a public notary. Her foray into selling vintage items started with outfitting close friends before opening an Etsy store in 2012, as well as selling from a spare bedroom in her home at the Juhl–a process that spurred her to find a storefront location.
“It was a bit weird to have people in my personal home. They had to come in through concierge, up the elevator. It was interesting,” she says.
Burkhart says she explored potential spaces on Las Vegas Boulevard, but nothing clicked and she feels fortunate to have found her present Main Street location, which she says was one of the last shopfronts available in the area.
“The neighbors are amazing,” she says. “Everyone on both sides and across the street have come over and said, ‘Can I help you with anything? Do you need anything? Do you want to share a garbage can with me?'”
She hopes to repay the friendliness at the grand opening of Amberjoy’s on December 8, complete with a band and barbecue that will, fittingly, include some molded Jell-O salads.
Amberjoy’s Vintage Closet, 1225 S. Main St., (702) 825-2020. Open Noon-9 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
PHOTOS BY ERIN TIMRAWI