03/20/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
FASHIONWISE IT'S THAT TWILIGHT zone where nothing ever goes out of style. That's Hullabaloo, the sprawling, 30,000-square-foot clothing warehouse in St. Louis where the past is still here and still now. Stuffed with 20,000 polyester leisure suits, racks of plaid bell-bottoms and shelves of platforms, clogs and, yes, even Earth Shoes, the place is heaven for the perversely nostalgic. "We like cheesy, tacky, gaudy," says Donna Knott, who presides over the place with co-owner Dana Hunsche. "We're famous for bad taste."
And big sales. Believed to be the country's largest wholesaler of never-worn, lost-in-time attire, Hullabaloo is where trendy boutiques and Hollywood costumers turn for top-drawer retro wear from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Selling merchandise scavenged from store warehouses and from manufacturers' overruns (top price for an item is about $12), Knott, 37, and Hunsche, 45, have outfitted the casts of nearly 50 films, including JFK, The Doors, Malcolm X and most recently The Brady Bunch Movie. "I don't know of any place like it," says Brady costume designer Rosanna Norton, who spent $20,000 on togs such as double-knit trousers and men's three-tone platform shoes. "It takes you on this weird trip to another era."
Knott, who at age 5 tagged along with her mother to yard sales in St. Louis, met Hunsche, a former antique motorcycle-parts dealer, in 1982 at the small vintage-clothing shop she owned at the time. "One of the fondest memories of my childhood," says Knott, "was going through trash." The two bonded instantaneously and joined forces in 1984, running Hullabaloo out of a small apartment. Knott worked on sales while Hunsche scoured the country for forgotten fashions. In 1987 the costumer for the John Waters sock-hop spoof Hairspray came shopping—and launched Hullabaloo in Hollywood. A year later so many sellers were contacting them (one call yielded 10,000 white vinyl go-go boots that had been stored in a Nebraska barn) that the warehouse became a necessity.
Success has allowed Knott to buy a 16-acre farm in Hillsboro, Mo., which she shares with beau Mark Sheridan, an organic gardener. Hunsche has a seven-bedroom Victorian house in St. Louis. But both partners just wanna keep shopping. "I'm looking for neon stuff, Michael Jackson Thriller'-type jackets and punk-rock clothing from the '80s now," says Knott. Hunsche has no doubt it's out there. "I'm a rooter," he says. "I believe you can find anything you want if you just look for it."