Owner of the funky fashion house The Attic, Mayra Carbet had bet on Downtown before many a fauxhawked First Friday frequenter was born. In 1986 the couple opened their Inaugural vintage venture, a used and reconditioned furniture and appliance shop dubbed Mayra’s First Second Hand Store at 1012 S. Main St. “Downtown reminded us of the thrift districts in LA,” Mayra reflects. “It was the perfect location for our store.” And the pair’s instincts proved profitable, making Mayra’s a success and prompting their leap from leasing to ownership with the purchase of 1018 Main from casino scion Richard Tam in 1988. “We scraped together the down payment, and I was so nervous,” Mayra says, “but we were really fortunate to have Richard carry us. When I delivered the payment every month I thought, Thank you, Mr. Tam.” Through the ’90s, their shop shifted focus from housewares to garments from earlier eras. “It was really just another one of Victor’s genius ideas,” Mayra says. They buy thrift-store clothing surplus for cents a pound and pick out the genuine designer, decade-specific pieces and styles that complement the shop’s ephemera appreciation aesthetic for the showroom floor. The rest gets exported to the couple’s Feria Americana chain in Panama. What cotton cloth cannot be salvaged becomes wiping rags that the Polities sell locally. “Very little goes to the landfill,” Mayra assures. But The Attic’s claim to fame isn’t the conversationalist business model, it’s a 30-second “Life takes VISA” commercial that depicted the colorful boutique at Vegas’ premier venue for over-the-top vintage clothing and first aired during the final episode of Seinfeld in May 1998. (You can see it again at theatticlasvegas.com.) “It only ran for a year,” Mayra says. “That was eight years ago and we still get people who in talking about it!”
Written by Jennifer Henry; originally printed in Vurb magazine, September 2007 (edited with permission).