Spotlight On: Jojo’s General Store by Rag Parade

“My mum’s an antiques dealer so I grew up around old gear; it was just the norm for me. Then eventually it became a bit of an obsession…”

Earlier this year Jojo Elgarice, owner of Jojo’s General Store by Rag Parade on Ecclesall Road, celebrated five years since he started selling fine vintage garms to the people of Sheffield. It’s a story which has seen him grow from a small rail at the old Syd & Mallory to his current premises, a fascinating treasure trove decked out with an assortment of gear ranging from the Victorian era to the 90s and rated as one of top vintagewear spots in the country.

With a well-deserved Best Men’s Retailer Exposed Award recently acquired, we popped in last month to hear the tale first-hand.

How did you first start out?
I moved to Sheffield from Matlock when I was about 18-years-old and ended up in the café at John Lewis, making soup and shit. Eventually I got myself a small spot in Syd & Mallory selling pieces of old workwear, skate t-shirts, bits of old junk basically, and that’s how things began.

What inspired your passion for vintage?
I was into it as a kid through my mum’s work in antiques, but I remember visiting a flea market in Belgium and that being a big moment. I was blown away by all the incredible old workwear on offer and ended up bringing some back, which then sold out almost straightaway. When Syd & Mallory moved to Devonshire Street I went with them, renting a small room on the top floor, and eventually they let me have the other bigger room too. Things started snowballing quite quickly after that; a dealer from London came in and bought a load of stuff for his showroom, and I started to sell to brands like Barbour who started buying pieces back off me. I became more obsessed with early military wear, workwear, sportswear and things just started taking off.

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When did you make the move to go at it alone and open your own place?
When the developers decided to demolish Syd & Mallory I took the decision to move here. Obviously nowadays, whether somebody’s playing a gig or opening a new café, it’s promoted online for months before. I didn’t really want to do that. I literally worked on it day and night but kept things quiet. I’d keep bumping into people covered in dirt and they’d ask what I’d been up to, so I’d have to lie and say I was working on my girlfriend’s new house or something. I was working until the dead of the night, literally until my fingers bled, and I suppose it could have flopped or backfired. But the night before opening I put out an Instagram post saying that the new store would be opening at 10am; party starting from 6pm. Everyone turned up in the evening not sure what to expect and it blew people’s minds a bit.

What’s the Rag Parade ethos?
The ethos is be the opposite of most other vintage shops, where they buy stock in bulk and have rails overflowing with it. We handpick each and every item on its own merit. It keeps us excited and makes sure we continue to learn about products. When I get something in I have to like it: it needs to be nice fabric, have good quality buttons and zips. It’s got to stand the test of time. There are a lot of fads but we’re not about that; we’re here for solid, timeless pieces.

Most interesting items you’ve bought?
I bought John Lennon’s cape. It was made for him by Lord John on Carnaby Street in the 60s and Lennon was fitted for it but was shot before he had the chance to pick it up. I’ve also had an Eygyptologist suit made in Sheffield around the Tutankhamun era, early Westwood from the Sid Vicious and Jonny Rotten days, first season Stone Island from 1982. I like anything with a bit of history behind it.

What are you thoughts on the busy Sheffield independent scene these days?
I think the Sheffield scene is good. All I’ve heard since opening is “You need to move to London, you’re too specialist and niche for Sheffield.” But not being based in London is a big thing about our shop; we have more soul than a lot of places down there too. We get a lot of interesting people and conversation in here, which I like, and we’re proud to represent the North.

Head over to Jojo’s Facebook for more info, or nip down to 553 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.

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