Step inside the turquoise storefront of Better Than New, and you’ll find yourself in a wonderland pulsating with a rainbow of colors. Not surprising, since the Downtown lifestyle boutique (1216 S. Main St.) caters to hard-core ravers and nightlife newbies alike. But, under the surface, this is not your typical barely there stripper-esque club-wear store.
That’s because Julie Kamiyama owns it. And her inspiration for the store is her passion for electronic dance music that dates back to her teens in Southern California—the days when most rave fashion and accessories were handcrafted. “You didn’t have tutorials on the Internet,” the 25-year-old says. “You had to know a raver to teach you. It was awesome.”
Which is why Better Than New has offered, since 2011, something for the casual partyer putting together an outfit for a neon nightclub soirée, as well as those needing help with an Electric Daisy Carnival costume idea. But it also provides a comfortable living-room-vibe area where members of the EDM community can hang out and chat.
“We don’t believe in customer service here; we talk to you like our friend,” Kamiyama says. “It started as a lifestyle boutique, and it’s growing into something more—we’re really a collective.”
And a collective like hers wants to preserve the DIY nature of the culture. Periodically—and especially as Electric Daisy Carnival approaches in June—patrons can take sewing classes or try their hand at kandi-bead projects. They also have access to a plethora of unique supplies, such as large quantities of pony beads, special fabrics and raver-attractive adornments—something not readily available at the big chain stores in town. Kamiyama also wants to foster the growth of “light sports” such as gloving, glow-sticking, poi and the like, plus expand the store to produce more menswear and possibly add a second location. And, of course, there are the First Friday parties with DJs, where the EDM community really shines bright.
“I don’t think you’re going to come in the store and love everything, but you will find something in here—whether it’s a light-up piece or sunglasses that are just a little bit different,” Kamiyama says. “If you come around, you’ll see we’re more than just a store that sells blinky pacifiers.”