Written Allison Kasper
Photographed by Sam Prager
“And this stuff is old, but the quality is still there.”
Bad Timing is a vintage store in the heart of Crosstown that specializes in t-shirts, memorabilia and other relics of past-culture. The shop was opened by Nate Packard and Nick Riley, two friends who started off as roommates and eventually turned into business partners.
The duo opened their shop on Cleveland Street in December 2019 and have been continuously growing ever since.
“We opened December first. We’re open right now every day from 11 to 7. And we may have a day that we close eventually, but right now we're just taking advantage of every day,” Packard says.
Packard initially drew inspiration from a Virginia Beach vintage clothing store, Round Two.
“They started with one store that was way smaller than ours, and they just had a few shoes and vintage shirts. Now I think they’re opening their ninth or tenth location. So, it's kind of crazy to watch regular ass dudes, just like us, who now have this huge empire,” says Packard. “We’re trying to do that, maybe not on such a huge scale, but we'd like to eventually have a few locations in secondary markets like Nashville and other smaller cities that may not have access to a Round Two, but still want something like it.”
Packard's first take at selling vintage clothes was by hosting a pop-up shop, the “Yard Sale,” in the Edge District in partnership with 143 Studio. This first incarnation of Bad Timing made Packard realize Memphis was in need of a spot like this. Packard paid homage to one of his past favorite Bombay Bicycle Club songs and landed on the name “Bad Timing.”
“People want to be unique now more than ever."
Packard emphasizes the importance of individuality, and Bad Timing is definitely a space that caters to that.
“People want to be unique now more than ever. I think the biggest problem is that people, especially people our age, want to be different. They know if they go to Urban Outfitters, the mall or H&M, that someone else is going to have those same clothes,” says Packard. “So, hopefully people see this as a spot to come and get something different or find something that they might have missed when they were younger, such as a shirt from their favorite TV show or something like that.”
Clothing racks are divided by genre and separated by color for easy browsing. Additionally, shelves are filled with rare hats, bags and even toy figurines. The grass turfed walls and back-room lounge, equipped with a video game console, exude a laid-back vibe.
The store’s merchandise features an eclectic collection of themes, cultures and styles. The shops clothing is broken into four main categories: Americana (NASCAR, Harley Davidson, Marlboro, etc.), sports, music and pop-culture.
“The bargain rack,” adds Packard, “is a collection of vintage apparel the shop has priced $20 and under.” However, the store also offers more high-brow thrifting finds.
They’ve just recently found a few very special Supreme box logo shirts, which is one of their rarer finds as of late. But you’ll have to wait patiently for those to go on sale. (@badtimingshop).
Packard and Riley initially built up their inventory by searching through the majority of Memphis’ thrift stores.
“When it was just us, we were just doing thrift stores. We would go around to every thrift store there is, and every antique store, any hole in the wall, a little place, just whatever we could find,” reminisces Packard. “Since we've been open, people bring stuff to us. We also have a few people and they thrift, but they go to these things called bins. It's basically like the junk side of Goodwill where they bring out these bins, and you have to dig.”
No more digging through haphazard bins at the thrift store – Bad Timing will do that for you. The shop also buys clothes from customers from their own vintage finds, whether through store credit or payment. Packard says the shop is always on the lookout for rap, movie and video game promo t-shirts and memorabilia. They are “the pinnacle of a cool piece.”
There is also an interesting way to identify what era a piece of clothing came from, and Bad Timing knows exactly how special an item can be through those markers.
“There's a few different indicators. A big one is the stitching. If something has a single stitch, that means it was made in the mid-90's and before. So, you can check the stitching on a sleeve or on the bottom part of a shirt. But, if you see a double stitch that just lets us know it's probably either from like 1995 or onward. Usually it's the sleeve that's the indicator,” explains Packard. “Usually when people print on shirts they put a date under it, and depending on when the licensing happened that's either the year before it released, the year of or the year after. So that's a huge one. The tags on the shirt is another one. Every brand used a certain tag during a certain era.”
When looking towards the future, Bad Timing has some exciting plans in mind.
“Since Nick owns part of Black Lodge, we’re planning on partnering with them for some events. We want to book shows there and sell the tickets here. That way you have to come into the store to get them, which will kind of just help push and promote both businesses,” says Packard. “Black Lodge is eventually going to have a bunch of video game systems and stuff up there too, so we are going to maybe have a Super Smash Brothers tournament or something like that here.”
Bad Timing hopes to begin booking bigger rap shows and use the space as a green room or lounge for the artists to hang out.
“Our hopes in a couple of years is just to have a few different locations and hopefully have friends running the stores,” says Packard. “We've been making friends while we've been doing this – people who thrift and stuff. So, just finding people we vibe with and trust, and talk to them about franchising later on.”