Any store with the slogan “We are not your mum’s underwear – but quite possibly your grandmum’s!” can’t possibly be boring.
They are the Damaged Goods Pin-Up Emporium, and yes, they sell used underwear. It’s not quite as gross as it sounds, but Damaged Goods is definitely not for the shy or faint of heart.
Owned by local burlesque queen Kiki Berlin, the tiny shop specializes in retro chic lingerie – the sexy clothing made popular by buxom beauties like Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe and many other girls who graced the pages of ’50s glossies wearing nothing but a cone bra, hipster panties and a seductive smile.
Nowadays, you’re unlikely to find these one-of-a-kind pieces in public unless you’re watching a Pussycat Dolls show. However, Damaged Goods is out to change that. To the shop’s owner, this isn’t just some old lingerie. To her, these pieces stand for something more righteous – clothing that is able to “evoke exhibitionism and female empowerment.”
“I do the things I do to try and make the world a better, understanding, tolerant place. Just because [someone] is not into something doesn’t make it wrong or less valuable,” Berlin said.
The proof of that statement is in the bank – Kiki has kept the shop open and running for the past four years selling unordinary pieces, including vintage garters, girdles, bustiers, corsets, panties and stockings.
For those who have a freaky fetish but are too shy to show it, Damaged Goods also offers the occasional “stag mag” in addition to pin-up art, jewelry and accessories.
Berlin works hard to keep a steady flow of merchandise coming through the store to suit her patrons.
But who buys this stuff?
“I absolutely love all of the different kinds of people I meet,” Berlin said. “Lingerie is just one of those things that everybody has indulged in at some time or another. I can safely say it’s one of the top unifiers of the world today.”
Of course, she also mentioned that some of her usual customers include cross-dressing men, so the unity is not restricted to just lingerie-loving women.
Personally speaking, Berlin describes herself as “two parts Scorpio, one part charm school graduate and 100 percent [hedonist].”
When she’s not busy running her business, she performs with local burlesque troupe The Hellcat Girls. Berlin thought up Damaged Goods while studying for finals at Kutztown University.
“[I opened the shop] so people would stop telling me what to do,” Berlin said.
Chrissy Reese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.