Without having visited Bohemian Groove on the Move in Elizabeth Ave Station, one has probably never shopped out of a clothing company’s mobile unit.
Inspired by Manhattan’s infamous food trucks, Brittany Reilly, owner of Bohemian Groove, has renovated a 1972 Airstream and converted it into a traveling boutique stationed in West Palm Beach’s Warehouse District.
Reilly’s interest in the fashion world stems from her childhood. As a young girl with no mother figure to look up to, she was experimental in her clothing choices, whether it be an outfit full of fringe, or head-to-toe tie dye.
“Growing up with just a dad as my family definitely influenced me to start gravitating towards clothing and what fit me well.” Reilly said, rocking her ankle-length leopard print dress.
Reilly’s father allowed her to be independent when it came to fashion. He was never one to disapprove of her eccentric outfits.
Her desire to do the same for others led her to work as a personal shopper in Manhattan for five years before stumbling upon the idea of Bohemian Groove.
“Food trucks were becoming extremely popular, and I thought that I could easily do that with clothes,” Reilly said. “I can buy a box truck, turn it into a traveling clothing boutique, and just travel around.”
Due to New York’s high rent prices, Reilly couldn’t afford to buy or lease a retail location, so a mobile business was the way to go.
Reilly found the vintage Airstream in Plattsburgh, NY.
“When I bought the trailer, everyone asked what I was doing,” Reilly said. “I told them I wanted to start a clothing boutique on the inside. They thought it didn’t make sense.”
The idea of a mobile business is not common in New York, with food trucks being the only exception.
Nonetheless, Reilly was not discouraged from others’ doubts. She started renovating the Airstream soon after the purchase.
One of Reilly’s main goals was to create a space that was as unique and free-spirited as she was.
“Everything had to be removed. We added new flooring, removed some windows, added the skylight, and put in new lighting,” Reilly said while sitting on her custom wrap-around couch, decked out in gypsy-like pillows. “I wanted it to look a very particular way.”
The renovation took about a year.
“At the end of the day, the stress was insane and the tears were crazy,” Reilly said. “But it came out perfect and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”
Unlike now, Bohemian Groove was constantly moving from town to town when the business first started.
“It was kind of all over the place, so it was hard for people to understand really where I was going to be,” Reilly said. ““Or [customers] couldn’t get to the market where I was at.”
On top of the trials of relocation and lack of an online store, New York’s harsh climate forced business to only operate seven months out of the year.
Bohemian Groove was in need of a location that would allow for operation all year round.
“I’ve always been a complete beach girl,” Reilly said.
Reilly had been coming to South Florida on vacations since she was young, so she knew it’d be the ideal location for the boutique.
Only days after connecting with Elizabeth Ave Station via Instagram, they agreed to let her be a permanent vendor in their courtyard.
Elizabeth Ave Station is a retail marketplace for artists, makers, creators and dreamers, according to its website.
Reilly and her father drove down to South Florida within the month, shiny camper in tow.
“If [people in the community] like something and see that you’re doing something cool, they want to support you. . .” Reilly said. “New York is not small-business-oriented because it’s so saturated.”
Elizabeth Ave Station is the ideal location for small business owners like Reilly because it offers sense of community and overwhelming support, something that was lacking in New York.
“My main goal with Bohemian Groove was to carry eccentric and eclectic pieces,” Reilly said. “Normally, 95 percent of people say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen this anywhere else!’ when they come in.”
Bohemian Groove’s feminine and avant-garde vibe is part of the unique experience you can’t find elsewhere.
“I do everything, from the buying and designing, to the inventory, ” Reilly said. “It’s really rewarding to see people come in and think it’s awesome.”
Reilly’s one-woman show has been as brave as her style, and she doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. She dreams to eventually take the luxe boutique across the country.
“It takes a lot of planning, and I would need someone else working with me,” Reilly said.
“But in my far future, I plan to do a cross-country tour and do different pop-ups in each state that I go to.”
For now, Reilly is content in the Elizabeth Ave Station courtyard, vibing in the groovy atmosphere.
“It makes me feel really good that I’m living up to my mission statement,” Reilly said. “I’m doing what I had planned for Bohemian Groove.”
Bohemian Groove exists to support the fearless and adventurous, one pair of snakeskin leggings at a time.
By Sofia Jas