Founded in Minneapolis, MN in 1954, Ragstock is one of America's longest-running retailers of vintage and recycled clothing. Ragstock also carries affordable new clothing and accessories online and in its thirty-eight retail locations. Click here to find a store near you.
If you're from the Twin Cities, you may have heard a parent mention the big Ragstock downtown—maybe you, dear reader, stopped by yourself! A warehouse filled to the brim with treasures for all kinds, our original space in downtown Minneapolis served for many years as our humble beginning. Digging through the archives, we found a few newspaper articles featuring snapshots of our history through the last few decades, starting from that first warehouse and expanding to stores across the Midwest. Below, find grainy photographs and pulled quotes from Minnesota writers that give a glimpse of our rich past.
Arthur Hager for The Minneapolis Star, 1977
January 4th, 1977 | "Rag Stock—a Funky-Fashion Find" by Monty Norris for the Minneapolis Star
"This is a RAGS-to-riches story with a new twist," Minneapolis Star writer Monty Norris writes, launching into this detailed profile of a late-'70s era Ragstock. "In this case, the hero is still in rags and he isn't necessarily very rich, but that's not the point. The point is simply what he (the owner, Howard Weisskopf) is doing with all those rags . . . Rag Stock, to the uninitiated, is the city's largest used-clothing mart—a center for funky fashion".
. . .
"Weisskopf, 55, sees himself as more than a used-clothing mogul, however. He considers himself something of a worldwide fashion trendsetter," Norris continues, "And he makes a pretty good case."
"A few years ago I was in London on a business trip," Weisskopf said. "I wanted to unload a bunch of bowling shirts and college sweatshirts I had. We had a bunch of them and they were selling pretty well here, but we had so many. So I conned this London boutique dealer on King's Rd. in Chelsea into buying them. I told him they were really big back in the U.S. Actually, the only place I knew for sure they were popular was in Minneapolis. But I figured they'd go over big other places, too. Before long, you had these English kids running around with bowling shirts from Anoka and Coon Rapids, places like that. And then pretty soon kids from the continent were coming over (to England) to buy them and soon it was the style all over Europe, too."
Mike Knakk for The St. Cloud Times, 1977
October 22, 1977 | "Rag Stock Co. Has Mukluks, Shoes" by Dave Zunker for the St. Cloud Times
"Nancy Triebel, manager of the St. Cloud store, said that she was prepared for a significant influx of college students into the store when it opened a month and a half ago. But she says that she was surprised by the clientele," Zunker wrote. "Triebel says that people are not coming into the store for the atmosphere, although she and the assistant manager Joan Sigler try to make it as pleasant as possible."
"It's like a huge rummage sale," Triebel says. "We have funky stuff like the body capes and the RAF underpants but there is also the practical stuff—the wools, the natural fibers, the storm coats."
L.K Hanson and Richard Olsenius for The Minneapolis Tribune, 1979
April 27, 1979 | "The Retro Look: Second-Hand Fashion Goes Uptown" by Tom Nolan for the Minneapolis Tribune
"[Howard Weisskopf] calls his stock recycled clothing and believes it has gained respectability partly because of style and cost and partly because more people are interested in the preservation of old things, even clothes."
"The kids are looking for the salt-and-pepper sport jackets with narrow lapels from the '50s," he said, "and they want shirts with small collars or button-downs—very big—and vests are a must. They want those alpaca golf sweaters, gabardine pants and rayon sports shirts. The girls buy old slips and wear the top part for formal things . . . This stuff is being ripped off in the fashion world today more than anything else. I'd say these kids are leading the designers. I guarantee you, two years from now you'll see this stuff in Justers."
"Weisskopf was saying that fashion is cyclical. The big second-hand sellers from the '40s and '50s are very similar to the designer clothing being sold for big money today. He traces the second-hand fashion movement back to the mid 1960s when, he says, "kids literally went around in rags."
"What I call the flower children were doing anything to upset the establishment," he said. "Now recycling something is looked on the same way as God, the flag, and motherhood. It used to be that you looked both ways before you went into a Salvation Army. Now you see all kinds of people in there."
Steve Wolt for the Daily Times
July 10, 1979 | "Used Merchandise: Secondhand Stores Cater to Variety of Clients" by Liz Fedor, intern for the Daily Times
"College students, housewives, blue-collar workers all have something in common. They are flocking to secondhand stores to build their wardrobes and furnish their homes," Fedor writes.
"Minneapolis Rag Stock, 512 Mall Germain, a surplus and salvage clothing store, carries a full line of jeans, military surplus, and natural fibers. Rag Stock caters to clients from 8 to 80 years old, according to manager Nancy Triebel.
Originally, the store was geared to college students, Triebel said, but farmers came in to buy coveralls, mothers to outfit their children and middle and upper-income people to buy European exports".
Kent Kobersteen for the Star Tribune
October 29, 1979 | "Where the Well-Dress Goblins Shop" by Robert T. Smith for the Star Tribune
"In the beginning, shortly before the end of World War II, Weisskopf was an army quartermaster," writes Smith. "His job at that time was to check in clothing and other supplies of soldiers who were being discharged. He began to wonder what would happen to all those used things. He figured they would need someone to take it off the army's hands. He became that someone in 1946 and has been at it since. About 13 years ago he decided to go retail. He got into Halloween eight years ago".
"Weisskopf travels the world looking for stuff to sell. In London he ran across bobbies' capes. In West Germany he found a bunch of used German army marching boots."
"I bought 1,400 pairs of snowshoes in London that were to be worn with the reinvasion of Europe," said Weisskopf. "They belong to Allied paratroopers." He brought them back not long ago and so far has sold 1,300 pairs. They're sort of like collectors' items."
. . .
"The big deal is that people, for a very low price, can do their own fantasizing. As Weisskopf put it, "They can become their own Yves St. Laurent. Take that girl over there looking at that fur coat. She'll probably make a skirt out of it."
Writes Smith, "That girl over there wouldn't say."
Darlene Pfister for the Star Tribune
February 2, 1982 | "Rags Bring Riches, Growth for Pre-Owned Clothing Firm" by Tom Davies for the Star Tribune
"Hard times do not mean the end of rags-to-riches stories. Or, in this case, riches-from-rags stories: Minneapolis Rag Stock Co. announced Monday the opening of its 11th and 12th stores."
"In the last year and a half the Minneapolis merchandiser of used clothing has grown from seven stores to a dozen, and it hopes to open as many as three more stores this year. But Michael Finn, retail sales director (now owner), refuses to give the frayed economy much credit for the firm's growth".
"Rag Stock Customers, he said, haven't changed much:
They're still college-aged people, from students to punkers. At the Minneapolis store yesterday there didn't appear to be any rush of middle-aged suburbanites trying on used band uniforms or army jackets."