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Go retro

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For most shops, November's Black Friday signifies long lines, blowout sales, and turkey sandwiches. For Colby Courter, the day will forever be marked on his calendar as the beginning of his dream.

WHAT TO WEAR :  Pictured are (left to right) Paige Pranjic (in a hand-dyed vintage slip and suede pumps), Kannyn January (high-waisted jeans and tee), Colby Courter (vintage Western shirt and Levi's), and Kelsie Hart (vintage floral summer dress and pumps). - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • WHAT TO WEAR : Pictured are (left to right) Paige Pranjic (in a hand-dyed vintage slip and suede pumps), Kannyn January (high-waisted jeans and tee), Colby Courter (vintage Western shirt and Levi's), and Kelsie Hart (vintage floral summer dress and pumps).

# On Nov. 22 of last year, Courter opened Retro-Spec, a used clothing store in San Luis Obispo with a focus on vintage wear.

"It's rewarding seeing people take an interest in trying to recycle," said Courter, who explained that his store is less gimmicky than other, similar shops.

Retro-Spec, he said, aims to reduce the human "ecological footprint" on the planet by recycling items that normally would go to waste. The store also carries TOMS Shoes, a new product line that, for every pair of shoes sold, donates one pair to a child in need. Courter also plans to add organic cotton lines soon and add to his collection of used designer items.

He also believes that it's important to support local businesses. He does so by featuring paintings and photography in his store, and by having local bands play in the shop every few weeks.

His approach seems to be contagious. Kannyn January, Courter's wife, has owned Ambiance, a higher-end new clothing shop at 716 Higuera St., for more than four years.

"I've been definitely more aware to support people who are giving back," she said. "He and I both really believe in doing things that are good for the environment."

Courter said that his wife's experience in the clothing retail business has helped him immensely.

Before opening Retro-Spec, he waited tables and tended bar at Big Sky Cafe. Now he spends his time running his shop and shopping with his wife, combing swap meets and thrift shops for items he can revamp and/or sell.

Retro-Spec is located at 672 Higuera St. For more information, call 781-8800.


Intern Mica Vincent compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Items for consideration should be e-mailed to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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