Vintage boutique reaps success

To step into the Sick Boy vintage clothing store is to take a trip back in time to the unforgettable 1960s and ‘70s. 

The bright red and leopard-print curtains, pastel-colored walls, and black-and-white tile flooring remind the customer of this classic period. 

As you approach the checkout counter, you may overhear the owner, 25-year-old Devon Pyles, say to a customer, you don’t know Muddy Waters?  That is part of your heritage! I am (going to) put some on.”

Born McKinley Morganfield, Waters was a popular 1950s blues artist credited with laying the foundation for rock-and-roll.

With Muddy Waters playing in the background, Pyles tells the customer the Mississippi-born singer started the whole blues-soul movement.

Even as she delves into music history, clothing racks that include classics like a maroon jacket with a tag reading “Original 1970s Full-Leather Trench” surround her.

For Pyles, Muddy Waters’ music and the trench jacket serve as reminders of an unforgettable time and place in history.

“My mother’s mother was my inspiration for opening this store,” said Pyles.  “She worked for the first Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, and after she passed away, I got a lot of her clothes.  Also, walking in my mother’s Mod dresses felt really good.”

“Clothing has an undeniable relationship with history, “Pyles said.  She recognized this correlation when she looked at the clothes her mother and grandmother once wore.

One reason these clothes had so much historic value is  because they were worn at many protests during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

From this period Pyles found the name for her store.

She said  ‘Sick boy’ was a historical 1960s catchphrase associated with the Mod movement that began in the United Kingdom. 

Around this time, men wore Fred Perry, a brand of clothing that was characterized by its crisp, clean style.  So-called ‘sick boys’ took this neat Fred Perry look and made the clothing tattered and torn to express their rebellion against the government through fashion.

Pyles said that those ‘sick boys’ initiated the punk style we see today.

Although Pyles acquired her passion for vintage fashion early on, it was not until she moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University that she came up with the idea to open a vintage clothing store.

“When I came to Tallahassee, I looked around and I asked myself, where are the vintage shops, the cafés, etc.?” Pyles said.

As a college freshman, Pyles wanted to leave town but she said she grew to love Tallahassee after she noticed the friendliness of the people here.

“I always knew that I wanted to open something. When I decided that I was going to open a clothing store, I thought about doing it somewhere other than Tallahassee,” she said.  “I then realized that there are good people here, and I felt that if I love this city, I should stay and help it out.”

Pyles also wanted to offer college students a place where they could buy inexpensive vintage clothing.

Erica Jackson, a 23-year-old social work student from West Palm Beach, agrees that the shop offers cost-friendly clothes.

“I once bought a motorcycle leather jacket from Sick Boy and I got it for a reasonable price,” the senior said. “I love vintage clothing and this store offers a variety of pieces from the ‘50s all the way through the ‘80s.”

Audrey Payne, a senior apparel design technology/ merchandising student at Florida State University, is fond of the store because of its consistency.

“I like Sick Boy because they sell vintage clothing, and nothing else but vintage clothing,” the 21-year-old Pensacola native said. “Some stores offer a mixture, but this one is always on the same beat.”

Many people are pleased with the store and the location helps as well.

Pyles likes her location on Gaines Street near Railroad Avenue but is disappointed to hear that the city is planning  to put more corporate stores in the area.

“They are trying to put corporate things here, and no one wants our input,” Pyles said.

She also mentioned that  she doubts she will uproot the store yet.

 “I think I want to stay here and grow this city.  Good people live here,” she said.