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October 25, 2014

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Joe Downtown: The Attic heads north on Main Street, hopes customers will follow

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Joe Schoenmann

The Attic located in Downtown Las Vegas specializes in selling vintage clothing and novelty items.

The Attic

Merchandise on display at The Attic. Launch slideshow »

Owner Mayra Politis was only slightly ahead of her time.

Back in 1992 when she founded The Attic, a vintage clothing store, South Main Street was a place few people visited and fewer knew.

By then, the Strip had sapped most economic strength from downtown. Fremont’s once glittering casinos were struggling and Main Street had become a business backwater littered with used furniture stores, carburetor shops and a plasma lab.

Fortune shined on Politis’ unique shop at 1010 S. Main, however, when a national American Express commercial aired during the final episode of the No. 1 TV show of the time, “Seinfeld.”

“They were lined up out the door,” Politis said of customers the day after the commercial.

After a transformer explosion closed The Attic, which sustained damage estimated at more than $1 million, and several other Main Street businesses in mid-2010, The Attic opened briefly across the street. (Politis filed a suit in late 2011 against NV Energy and Southwest Gas Corp.; the suit was resolved last year, but Politis said she could not discuss the case.)

Politis sold her old building and has now moved into 1010 N. Main. almost two miles north.

North Main is north of U.S. 95, an area still largely untouched by the redevelopment slowly changing the Arts District, where The Attic used to reside. A few blocks from Politis’ new site, in a 14,000-square-foot building she purchased more than a decade ago, the homeless concentrate because much of the county’s social services are located in the area.

Her daughter, Christina, 23, who manages the store, embraces the area.

“We need those services downtown,” she said. “If anything, I hope The Attic can work and connect and help those people along the way.”

The Attic, itself, is a place full of vintage, well, everything — not just clothes, but posters, boots, shoes, disco balls, neckties, cameras and more. What used to be a whitewashed, bland building has been painted in bright colors, a storefront facade and flowers.

Now the hard work begins persuading Las Vegas residents to visit the store north of the highway. A delivery man brought fliers Wednesday afternoon, which sent Christina out distributing them to other downtown businesses.

On Valentine’s Day, it will hold a grand opening. That will include cupcakes by Retro Bakery available from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and the Fuku Burger food truck, along with music by DJ Arroz Con Pollo from 3-7 p.m.

Mother and daughter envision the day they have a cafe in an adjoining space, they are thinking about First Friday shuttles and plans they smiled about but weren’t ready to yet reveal.

Could it happen? Could the Politises again be forging new territory in a landscape destined for redevelopment?

“It could definitely happen,” Mayra says, pointing east. “We’re not that far away.”

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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