The “12th hippest neighborhood in the U.S.” is North Park, San Diego. I was tipped off on the beach that I should come see Sparkle Moore at her predominantly 30’s-50’s-era glamorous vintage haven, transferred all the way from London, The Girl Can’t Help It. It was refreshing to find a vintage store where the clothes are beautiful and in pristine condition. I had so much fun talking with Gail, AKA “Sparkle” and listening to her stories that I seriously had to edit down this interview due to it’s lengthiness. From a buyer at Barney’s in NYC to starting one of the first burlesque clubs in London, Sparkle was married to a band member from The Rockats, even tour-managed a punk rock band for years across Europe and has been proudly selling quality vintage for 25 years. You’d never know all this by first impressions because she’s as sweet as your hip auntie and classy as a 1950’s cabaret hostess. I wanted to hang out all day and hear her stories but this would have turned into a Rolling Stone Magazine interview. I did however stay and help her set up her Instagram with its very first picture and video with hashtags. #promotions
RNR: You lived in London for 25 years? Did you love it.
TGCHI: Absolutely loved it. Still love it. It’s my favorite city in the world.
RNR: What a drastic difference to move from somewhere like London to San Diego.
TGCHI: That’s why we moved, because of the weather. London’s not always horrible with the weather but the last couple of years, probably due to climate change, the weather has been particularly bad, and so, you know, it gets to the depressing point. We would come to the states to shop for the store because we specialized in American glamour, we would always say, “Could we live in this city? Could we live in this city?” And San Diego just kept coming up with the most points.
RNR: Are those points for what you wanted out of life, or for what you wanted out of your store?
TGCHI: For what we wanted out of life.
RNR: I’m still trying to figure out who the vintage San Diego customer is. From what I’ve seen…well, I haven’t seen a lot of people wearing vintage or much fashion for that matter. San Diego is a surfer’s city, after all.
TGCHI: Yeah, it’s a beach town. We knew that when we moved here. We just knew we were going to have to adjust our sales pitch. We sell on Etsy too though, The Girl Can’t Help It USA.
RNR: Is the store named after the song?
TGCHI: It’s Jayne Mansfield, my favorite film of hers, and also Little Richard’s song, but my friends always use to say about me, “Oh, the girl can’t help it,” because I use to collect everything. So yeah, there’s a mixed client. There’s the cute floral summer dresses and there’s the rock n roll, rockabilly/car vintage scene. Then there are the vintage collectors that will find you, and then there are also the customers that want something to wear to an event or a wedding. This is a military town so there are also a lot of WWII events and so people want to look 40’s and 50’s. There’s really a broad scope, which we’ve been feeling out. Again, we’ve only been here a year, so we’re happy with the response. It didn’t matter what came in or out, we’ve always done what we do…this is what we do! If that’s what you want, this is where you come. That’s what we specialize in. We don’t jump on the 80’s-90’s bandwagon, whatever is in this year.
RNR: In London was your store the same type of merchandise?
TGCHI: The store had the same name but, London is a very cosmopolitan city so our customers there were models, designers, actresses, and film designers. All the high-end customers could find us there.
RNR: And before that you were in New York. Did you have the same type of shop there?
TGCHI: I had a space I rented in New York on Canal Street. That’s where I started selling. And then we moved it all over to London.
RNR: Who are “we”?
TGCHI: My husband, Jasja and I. I take care of the women’s things and he takes care of the men’s things.
RNR: When you were in London and specializing in American vintage, were you flying to the states a lot?
TGCHI: Mm Hm. It’s one of the perks of the job!
RNR: What did you do before you sold vintage?
TGCHI: I was a buyer for Barney’s and then they let me go. (Laughing) They said I was a square peg in a round whole. I took that as a compliment.
TGCHI: Then I was the road manager for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers after the ” Anarchy Tour” with the Sex Pistols and The Damned and everyone.
RNR: What?! How’s that?
TGCHI: Well, I grew up in New York with that punk scene and I lived in the East Village and I knew all those people, Debbie Harry, I knew the Ramones, I knew the Heartbreakers… (she’s modest about name dropping but, I think it’s a big part of who she is and her extensive knowledge of vintage fashion).
RNR: Oh, did you know Patti Smith?
TGCHI: I had met her once, I knew of her but she was more…
TGCHI: Yeah. I was more into sex and drugs and rock n’ roll (laughs it off). So, I went to London, The Heartbreakers were on tour, I knew all of them, and so they said, “Do you wanna stay and be our road manager?” And I was like “OK, I have nothing to go back to.” So then I traveled all around Europe during all the punk days touring with the bands for about two or three years. I’d say it was a little bit different than Barney’s.
RNR: Right but same hours?
TGCHI: Exactly! So that’s where my life led me after leaving my normal jobs. All those things add up to what you have here.
RNR: It sounds like you’ve had a really amazing life so far!
TGCHI: Yeah! And it’s still going!
The Girl Can’t Help It is also a proud sponsor of the burlesque group, Hell On Heels and they frequent the shop when there are special events.
Make sure to keep up with their promos because you can come by and see them dancing in the windows and even doing some “teasers” with customers.