When commuting through the university area, one might notice a rather odd building on the corner of Yale and Lead. At first glance it is, what looks to be, an old gas station or auto shop that someone has painted leopard print. On further Inspection it becomes apparent that despite the selection of vintage vehicles, Including a hearse, parked in front of said leopard print building, it is in fact not an auto shop at all, but rather a clothing store, and quite an intriguing one at that! Specializing in pin-up, greaser, punk, and rockabilly style clothing, Free Radicals is what Hot Topic ( I can feel Nan and John cringe as I type that name!) used to pretend to be, except a million times better in every way! The seasonal display in the front entry way never fails to impress with its’ array of high heels and adorable yet decadent dresses that can make even the most tom-boyish ladies want to dress up (myself included), and the Costume Jewelry is absolutely stunning! It is overwhelming to think that so much awesome can exist in one place, and we haven’t even made it into the main room yet!
Upon entering this quaint establishment one is immediately greeted by Nan, John, or both, depending on the occasion, The quirky couple who have catered to all of our clothing needs (even the ones we don’t know we have) since their doors opened in 2002! The friendly atmosphere of the store makes it impossible not to feel comfortable asking questions, trying on clothes, picking out a purse, ordering shoes, or even getting a corset fitted. Speaking of corsets, They have a whole wall of them ranging from full corsets for waist training, to more costume like designs, as well as under-busts, and waist cinchers. And there is always someone there to get you properly measured and fitted! On the opposite wall is where the glossy, shiny, brightly and not so brightly colored, purses and bags are located, and let’s not forget what is probably the best collection of seat buckle belts in Albuquerque. In between the Corsets and the purses lies the brunt of the clothing, 2 stands are devoted to women’s clothing, one being mainly dresses, while the other is generally shirts and shorts of one form or another. Another stand is devoted solely to mens clothing. While yet another is intended for those of us who don’t fit into our society’s body standard norms, And did I mention the clearance rack! Talk about the best deals in town! Not to mention the best lay-a-way policy in town either! As small local business owners, Nan and John understand the importance of quality and price, two things that are usually directly proportional. That being said Free Radicals does it’s best to ensure that all of their products are of the best quality at the lowest reasonable price. As they very openly state on their web page, freeradicalshq.com, “We believe in making a living…NOT getting rich.” Which is comforting from a consumer view point. In addition to that you always know what you are paying for an item before it’s even rung up as the whole dollar value on the tag is exactly what you are charged taxes and all. The best part of Free Radicals really is the costumer service! Both Nan and John make it a point to get to know their regulars, and even their not so regulars! When you can walk into a store and they know what size you should try in every brand they carry (which is quite the list), can suggest styles that would best work with your body type, and they still remember that semi obscure hobby you talked about on a previous visit months before, it really makes you question why you would ever want to shop anywhere else. And i’m not the only one to say that either! According to a Facebook review by one Troy Sullivan free radicals is a “Bad ass store! Best selection of all punk, skinhead, goth, greaser, psycho ect. In New Mexico!!!”. Another Facebook reviewer, Lorelei Armstrong, states “The customer service is great. I needed a dress for my class reunion and the woman working really knew the stock and was very helpful. Needless to say I got my dress and several complements at the dinner and dance. I will definitely be shopping here more.” And yet another Facebook reviewer, Madeline M Jensen, says “#1 hands down the best place to get your vintage gear on from classy to sexy no matter what size you are big, small, short, or tall guarantee she’ll have something perfect to fit you thank you so much Nan… Two years in a row you’ve made my life complete thank you for the winning dresses”. And the list goes on! So if you are ever in Albuquerque, and in need of some new, high quality, greaser, punk, rockabilly, pin-up or vintage clothing, I strongly recommend dropping by Free Radicals! Not only are their products awesome, the costumer service is great too! Their store hours are Monday’s 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Tuesday’s thru Saturday’s 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. If you aren’t in Albuquerque or can’t make it to the store they have a totally Awesome Website: freeradicalshq.com where you can find the majority of their products as well, and be sure to follow them on Facebook for updates on inventory as well as local events that they sponsor, or participate in, along with other great local stores to check out!