Audrey Panson has always had a weakness for the vintage atmosphere. When she was younger, she loved browsing thrift stores in search of treasures and bargains. Now she’s into it with her The Bus Stop Vintage shop, which she runs from a refurbished school bus with partner Alika Lemon. The Bus Stop specializes in 1920s clothing, accessories and some homewares.
After being born and raised in East Sacramento, Panson went to the University of San Francisco to study sociology. Although she enjoyed her time there, she was drawn to Sacramento and its post-college lifestyle.
“I especially love how easy it is to cycle around town,” Panson said.
Panson and Lemon were in the restaurant industry when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and they found themselves without a regular gig. While some of us holed up at home to wait, they seized the opportunity to do something different. They bought a refurbished school bus and lived in it while exploring the northern California coast.
After landing in Sacramento, they knew bus life, without air conditioning, was not an option for them. They found an apartment again. As they tried to figure out what they could do with the bus, they came up with the idea of combining all their vintage loves into one store almost a year ago.
Panson already had an extensive collection of vintage clothing that was beyond what she could wear. She loved finding good pieces, whether they were for her or not. She was already doing a bit of reselling online, so she had an idea of what people were looking for when it came to vintage clothing. They started at a farmers market.
“The Farmers’ Market was huge for the exhibit and the customers for us,” Panson said.
Now you can find their big green bus at the Midtown Farmers Market every Saturday. They have put up clothes racks outside the bus for most women’s items, but some men’s too. The bus had been fitted with counters which they use to display vintage glassware. There’s even a dressing room at the back of the bus if you want to try something on. Besides vintage finds, they also offer items such as jewelry from local artisans.
Curating the collection is exciting for Panson.
“It’s a great source of connection with people. I love learning their stories,” she said.
She sources most of the bus stop merchandise at estate sales and thrift stores from Sacramento to the Bay Area. Panson likes to hear how items came into someone’s possession and often takes the next step to research item history. Her favorite recent find was a hand-woven bag from the island of Lombak, near Indonesia, made of rattan, palm leaves and carved wood.
It’s clear that Panson’s passion for vintage goes beyond finding unique things. It is also about counteracting some of the harmful effects of fast fashion. Fast fashion focuses on the mass production of new and trendy items at low financial cost. It used to be that dress fashion was more about well-made items that you could wear frequently. If a seam has come loose, you’ve fixed it. If your weight has changed, you have had the article adapted. According to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, in 1960, 1,310 thousand tons of clothing and shoes went to landfills. In 2018, this figure increased to 9,070 thousand tons of clothing and footwear.
Both Panson and Lemon enjoy an unconventional approach to work, and the bus stop suits them just fine.
“I like having autonomy and balancing my time,” Panson said, “and I like doing things my way.”
This store is definitely unconventional. For every time they go to sell, they have to park the bus, unload and settle down. When the day is over, she packs up again. Even this temporary setup is something Panson appreciates, as she likes to be able to set things up according to her mood. It’s never quite the same store. Lemon takes care of the company’s photography and design.
Find the Vintage Bus Stop
The Bus Stop Vintage is open from Thursday to Sunday. On Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, you can find them near the MARRS building downtown. On Saturdays they are at the Midtown Farmers’ Market. They also cater to breweries and other places that accept vendors. You can even hire the bus for a party or private event. If you want to keep an eye out for new Panson finds and where you can buy The Bus Stop, follow them on Instagram @_thebusstop_. Shopping is also available on their site thebusstopvintage.com. Once a month, they drop around 60 items on the website, which can be picked up or shipped.