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Allyson Speaks 

Owner of Century Vintage

The theme of Century Vintage, the ultra-hip clothing and furniture store that has been a staple in the historic Plaza-Midwood area of Charlotte for over 20 years, is very fittingly "what is old is new again." Native Carolinian Allyson Speaks took over in 2001, adding the Patchwerk Playhaus, an intimate theater that has been the scene of many a photoshoot,concert and independent film screening.

Speaks is an artist-turned-businesswoman who has an eye for style. "I like what I like; if I wouldn't wear it or put it in my home you won't find it here. Everything here is of a high caliber, and it's unique."

The store carries a large amount of high-end furniture from the '50s, '60s, '70s and some '80s pieces. She also carries high-end clothing from the '80s and controversial abstract art. Allyson rents space to local vendors and artists in the city.

Speaks built the Patchwerk Playhaus so a musician friend of hers could play there. "I hammered every nail, learned about acoustics and sewed every piece of fabric. I wanted the space to feel as if you are in your living room."

The intimate feel of the theater has to do with Speaks' no talking rule -- there is to be no talking during a concert unless it is the artist interacting with the audience. "I made that rule out of respect. All types of music gets played here; I might not like it all, but I do respect the art form."

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