Being the youngest of four girls, I've always been on the receiving end of hand-me-downs and during college I was a huge thrift store shopper. But I became picky and disinterested with the type of clothing sold in bulk donation stores, since a lot of the clothing was damaged, worn or outdated. When I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2006 one of the first places I fell in love with in my neighborhood was a little gem of a store on the northside called Buffalo Exchange.
Buffalo Exchange has everything a thrifter could dream of: new, used and vintage clothing, shoes and accessories. All are handpicked by their buyers and in clean, gently used condition. There are current styles and local indie designers on their racks weekly because 80% of their clothing and accessories are bought directly from local customers. Living in a fashion mecca like NYC, I've been able to score some amazing deals on bags from Kate Spade and Coach, originals from local designers and some beautiful little label-less vintage dresses.
I'm also a big fan of getting a nominal reward for cleaning out your closet and paying those threads forward. Don't drop them off at the SalvA - sell them to Buffalo! Selling to Buffalo Exchange is a fun, easy way to get cash or store trade for your old favorites.
Here are a few tips for selling:
1. Go early. Earlier in the day on a weekday are the best times to sell. The line to sell is longest on the weekend and very long when people get out of work on weekdays.
2. Be specific about what you're selling. If it's early Spring/Summer, sell them your summer duds. If we're approaching Fall, get out your lighter warmer items to sell. You can always go back a few months later to sell your out-of-season items. Also, you can always check their website or call to see what styles they're currently looking for.
3. If you wouldn't want to put it on your skin, assume no one else will. Undergarments, stained tees, shoes you walked through and anything that has lived past its prime are not accepted. Stick with selling nicer quality pieces you've outgrown in your style.
4. When talking with the buyer: if you have a question about why a piece was passed over, just ask. A lot of times it has to do with their stock and if they have a surplus of an item, like ladies shorts for example, they're less likely to buy too many until the stock decreases.
5. Take the trade! Cash is quick and easy - but trade is fun! Trade helps you explore the store for one-of-a-kind numbers that you would have missed if you just took the cash and ran.
I love Buffalo Exchange dearly and it still thrills me to introduce people to them! Now with 5 locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens - and a ton more across the country - it's so easy to jump on the buy/sell/trade bandwagon. www.buffaloexchange.com
It's wedding season again and if your a perennial bridesmaid in your group of girlfriends, I'm sure you could open a showroom with all the dresses you've purchased over the years. Instead of cluttering up your tiny apartment closet or tossing them to the Salvation Army, wouldn't it be great if there was a way to pass them onto another girl who would love them? In fact, that is a exactly what Frankie Thompkins had in mind when she created Gala Gear in 2007. I had the extreme pleasure and honor of volunteering for Gala Gear last month, a non-profit organization that provides totally free prom attire to New York City high school seniors. Donations of new or nearly new gowns, shoes and handbags came in from across the country to the Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side and volunteers gathered on a warm Sunday in April to set up a prom-worthy dress boutique. I'm a huge advocate for upcycling clothing and Gala Gear is a beautiful way to pay forward some of your bigger ticket bridesmaid dresses and ball gowns. After the set up day, I returned later in the week to assist as a "personal shopper" for the girls who arrived looking to find the ultimate prom or graduation dress. It was such a treat to witness the girls twirl in their newly discovered gowns. It reminded me of the two proms I attended in high school and how it definitely could become a pricey ordeal at the checkout counter; but the moment when I found the perfect dress and how glamorous it made me feel to prance in front of the mirror - money couldn't buy that feeling. It is so awesome and humbling that Gala Gear is providing the experience for girls across New York City. Consider sending your donations to: Gala Gear Contributions, Attn: JF Thompkins, 624 West 139th Street, New York, NY 10031 or subscribe at www.galagear.org! Just for fun, check me out in my sophomore and junior prom dresses on the right!