Loitering—February 16, 2007

By Echo Gonzalez

Looking to freshen your look for the coming spring? Want to impress your post–Valentine’s Day sweetheart with a unique, stylish flair? Fancy a full-body chicken mascot outfit? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, Ragstock, a mere five minutes from the Red Line, is the spot for you.

Adhering to the Belmont and Clark area’s street-urchin tradition, one must cut into a small alley in order to find the entrance to this new-and-used clothing store. Upon entering, you are greeted with two shopping options: birds or blokes? If it is ladies’ wear you seek, you can climb a flight of stairs to the second floor.

Here, you will encounter loud, experimental music and a cave-like checkout counter, festooned with old Sesame Street plushes and Polaroids of teary-eyed Great Depression collectible dolls. A hunched and disgruntled young hipster rears his trucker’s-hat-sporting head just long enough to ask for your bag. Having soothed the hipster with this offering, you may pass on to the colorful and musty candyland of vintage women’s apparel. A large, black-and-white print of Morticia Addams hangs on a hippie-muraled wall, and vintage records and gas masks dangle among scattered Tears For Fears posters.

Prices are fairly low in this shop, with the most expensive T-shirts falling between $10 and $15. If you’d really like to get the most bang for your buck, head to one of the several clearance racks, where cardigans and halter tops alike can be yours for a whopping $2. Strangely dressed half-mannequins and a cardboard cutout of Edward Scissorhands guide shoppers to an array of dominatrix an gear in the back of the store. From leather lingerie and femme fatale wigs to sequined corsets, all of the S&M paraphernalia that your heart could desire can be found here. The next rack over is home to an ample accumulation of vintage kimonos at $4 a pop. Mix and match with an obi for $6 more. Perhaps you’ve come in search of a pleated, plaid skirt or a pair of hip 1970s waist-highs. There’s an entire retro pants section awaiting you in the southeast corner of the store. You’ll also find a variety of ’80s gear, raincoats, jumpers, retro blazers, and wool skirts. Visit the costume spot near the hanging, human-sized butterfly wings for fake tattoos and eyelashes, fedoras, plastic bras, and cheap aviator sunglasses.

If you’re shopping for men’s attire, follow the neon lights into the dungeon-like basement, where Ludacris or Clipse is likely to be playing. Try not to be overwhelmed by the sea of work shorts, vintage tees and military rarities on display you. This part of the shop is divided into three basic sections. Go to the “Recycled Clothing” section for ’90s band shirts, faux tux tees, and used jeans and jerseys. “Retro” is where you’ll find disco shoes, bowling shirts, and ’70s bell-bottoms, while the “Military” section is home to an impressive selection of sailor hats, trench coats, and canteen bags. But the pride and glory of Ragstock’s men’s shop is the array of full-body chicken, bunny, and gorilla costumes. At $89.99, these one-size-fits-all suits come complete with mask, gloves, body suit, and overshoes, which are also available for online ordering. Be sure not to leave the basement without checking out the $7 classic movie posters, $4 messenger bags and fedoras, and 75-cent hats and accessories. And remember that a photograph of your pet can be taped onto the second-floor wall for a 25 percent discount on any single item.


812 West Belmont Avenue

(773) 868-9263