From starting in their own backyard to opening their own Brady Street storefront–meet the best friends putting their retail backgrounds to use!
Liz Kiesling had been selling vintage clothes since 2009 and Michelle Eigenberger had an extensive background in interior design and retail management. Put them together, and you get Bandit: a hip and inclusive shop in one of Milwaukee’s trendiest neighborhoods.
How did you come up with the idea for Bandit?
Bandit Co-Owner Michelle: We decided to sell some backstock of vintage clothes we had collected over the years, and [during the pandemic] we set up a department store in Liz’s backyard. On the day of our first sale, the line to get in stretched down the block!
We started hosting backyard sales once a month, and they were so successful–we decided to find our own storefront by the end of 2020. Six months later, we were up and running!
Why vintage clothes in particular?
The world has enough clothes, and the vintage items we source have literally traveled through time. Vintage items are unique, quirky, and a lot of fun to wear, and we don’t deplete any of the world’s resources by cycling already-existing garments back into the fashion ecosystem.
Bandit is a unique name. How did you come up with it?
A shopper once mentioned to us that they felt like they were making out like a bandit at one of our sales because there was so much selection and the prices were so good. So we ran with that. A few days later, Liz happened upon some coasters from the 1980 Olympics that had a really cute raccoon on them, so we incorporated a design for Charles, our raccoon mascot, too.
Besides clothes, what else do you sell?
We sell a range of jewelry and accessories: scarves, handbags, necklaces, earrings, belts, cufflinks, and pins. We also have socks, sunglasses, and rings.
Where do you find your inventory?
Most of it comes from house calls, bulk buys, and estate sales. Sometimes, we purchase an entire lot and hand-sort every item one-by-one.
When something isn’t the right style or look for our shop, we save them for our Overstock Sales, where we line the sidewalk outside with bins and everything goes for $5 or $10. We’re hoping to do these sales once a month from April to October this year.
Brady street is a hot spot! How do you like being a part of that community?
Brady Street is the best street in America to own a small retail business. Our greatest marking tool has been just existing on this street! The amount of walk-in traffic is amazing.
What’s your advice for getting through tough times?
We like to say that there aren’t any mistakes that can’t be fixed. Our biggest challenge is figuring out what to do with all the cool stuff we find! There is so much great vintage out there, and we do our best to pack as much as we can into our 900-square foot store.
Bandit MKE is located at 1224 E. Brady Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 12pm to 6pm.
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