HipWaZee, long time purveyor of eclectic fits for Columbia residents and Five Points shopping staple, will be closing its doors soon.
After dealing with the rise of the internet retail era, HipWaZee owner Leslie Minerd came to the difficult decision to close up shop, according to The State. Last Saturday, the business hosted a final party with live music from local bands, refreshments and a sea of diverse and exciting costumes.
Saturday afternoon, the store was filled with band members dressed as political figures and employees bustling about in witch hats and angelic togas, not to mention a crowd of whimsical shoppers: Skeletons, mermaids and historical figures gathered together to celebrate the store, share drinks and enjoy an afternoon of music and clothing.
Many partygoers were longtime patrons. Attendee Charles Ruff, member of local cover band Elvis and the Sweet Expectations, recalled fond memories at the store.
“When I heard that they were closing out here, I got a little sad,” Ruff said. “It brings a tear to your eye to see the independent business people being forced out of business."
Ruff attended the event sporting an eye-catching, bright red, metallic star-spangled Elvis costume.
“About 15 years ago, I came in here and got my very first Elvis outfit, and from that, I started performing in nursing homes for free,” Ruff said.
Another party-goer, Gina Brewer, a friend of store owner Leslie Minerd and long time customer, also lamented the community's loss of the shop.
“They'll be missing a local small business that is above and beyond the quality of things you can get at Halloween stores,” Brewer said.
Brewer encourages visitors who have never been in before to shop at HipWaZee while they still have the chance.
“People want their own look," Brewer said. "There’s no better way to get something that nobody else has than to come to a place like this.”
An important part of what HipWaZee does is finding, restoring and curating one-of-a-kind clothing. HipWaZee owner and founder Leslie Minerd, in fact, considers herself not just a business owner, but also a “prospector of collectibles.”
“It’s so much fun to find a piece of history that’s laying there neglected and we bring it back to life and save it from the landfill,” Minerd said.
Cade McConnell, who has worked at HipWaZee for three years, donned a cowboy getup for the party. HipWaZee employees help Minerd collect and restore the clothing found in the shop.
“It’s fun,” McConnell said. “It’s like the most fun job I’ve ever had.”
Besides providing customer service in elaborate costume, for some employees, endeavoring to take out hems, replace lost buttons and mend tears is not just a job, but a hobby. Collecting and sharing clothing is certainly more than a job for Leslie Minerd, whose love for unique fashion goes back a long way.
“I started collecting clothing and costumes when I was a teenager,” Minerd said. “I just always carried around a trunk of cool vintage clothes and I’d share them with people for parties.”
In the process of bidding farewell to the shop, the owner reflected on the store’s contribution to the community. She’s been pleasantly surprised, she says, by the “outpouring of love” from locals, with patrons giving kind regards and recalling fond memories of costumes purchased at HipWaZee.
HipWaZee is currently in the closing process, but has not expressed when its last day of business will be.
“I think we’ve helped so many people get dressed up to have so many good times,” said Minerd. “People here like to go out and have a good time. I think I’ve been a part of that by dressing them up.”