April 2007 Issue
Fit for the Stars
A high-school senior wants an offbeat prom dress. A middle-aged woman desires flashy rhinestone earrings. A brother and sister need 1950s costumes for a school play.
They've all come to Captain Betty's, a small shop in Delaware that's more than a collection of vintage garments. The shoppers also are charmed by eccentric owner Betty Greene, who gives them personalized service and a free dose of wit.
Local clientele aren't the only admirers of the store, where the 76-year-old proprietress has offered scores of dresses, bags, hats and other accoutrements since 1995. The shop has also caught the attention of Hollywood stars, big-name fashion designers and shopkeepers.
Annie Lee, who runs a women's clothing store in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood, is one of them. She bought armfuls of '60s and '70s dresses from Greene in November. Lee was awed by Greene's 1,500-square-foot shop packed with racks of garments befitting the styles of Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn. "She's the best source for vintage in the Columbus area," Lee says.
Stars including Drew Barrymore and Patti LaBelle, and designers representing Abercrombie & Fitch and Donna Karan, also know about Captain Betty's. Greene says Barrymore bought jean skirts from her shop via the Internet. Designers, she says, pop in about once every three weeks. An assistant designer from New York City traveled exclusively to Delaware during a February snowstorm to buy '70s attire. Greene says designers sometimes copy fabrics, patterns or entire outfits to produce new lines.
Greene, who specializes in merchandise from the 1930s through the late 1970s, has been selling vintage clothing for more than 40 years. The secret to her popularity, she says, is hard work, which translates into keeping up on fashion trends by reading magazines and making regular pilgrimages to New York.
"I've been into fashion since I was little," Greene says. "I loved the way my mother dressed. She wore form-fitted coats with big collars in the '30s. I just admired her and that's why I got into [the business.]"
Captain Betty's is located at 73 N. Sandusky St. in Delaware. Call 740/363-6739 for more information.