As thrifty as I am in general, it might surprise you to know that I have a particular aversion to most thrift stores. I like *vintage* stores that carry well curated collections of coats, dresses, handbags, etc. from a particular era. I don’t like smelly little holes in the wall with rack and racks and racks of kinda dirty-ish clothes in kinda average to below average condition. Yes, I know all thrift stores aren’t like this (stop rolling your eyes). Honestly, my disdain for thrift shops is similar to what I feel for department stores. Too much with too many folk, but I digress.
Today, I want to introduce you to my absolute FAVORITE store in the whole, wide world (except Zara…and H&M). Buffalo Exchange is the practical girl’s answer to the thrift store. It’s a marriage of the conventional consignment shop and your favorite little vintage boutique. The premise is that customers bring in their recent, lightly worn or vintage (not old) clothes and buyers at Buffalo Exchange give them a careful inspection to be sure that (1) the styles are current; (2) there is no visible wear and tear; and (3) it has some potential to be resold. You should be warned that this process is not for the faint of heart. They will hand you those zebra print slim pants that you thought were the business two years ago and politely tell you to get your camel and go. Don’t be swayed though. After a while you will be so familiar with the process that you won’t even bring certain items into the store. Its actually a challenge for me to know. I come in the store completely devoid of ego and ready to match my wits against the best buyers. I sit at home and go through each item of clothing just like the buyers. I nix anything with even a snag on it (unless its vintage – they are more lenient with great vintage finds). I am most satisfied when I leave with three or less ‘give-backs’. But, skill matching aside, the greatest thing about Buffalo Exchange is this: whatever you sell to the store you get either 30% of what they can sell for in cash or 50% in **store credit**. I don’t know how to express that last statement with more emphasis but imagine that those little stars are me throwing glitter!! If you are not as excited as I am right now – let me say this to you another way. You can go through your closet and gather the fabulous clothes from last season and perhaps the season before that and bring them to a store and leave with (slightly) new clothes that you didn’t previously own. It’s the most amazing thing to me. And if you are a shopaholic, virgo, clothes horse like myself – its even better news. My clothes are mostly in great shape. I buy quality pieces and I stay on trend. Chile, boo. Buffalo Exchange is a Godsend for me. It ensures that I don’t hoard clothes that I don’t wear anymore and it keeps me current with new and interesting pieces that I might not have tried on the first run but I will give a go for $15 in store credit for sure. Its a great way to shop to you drop without having to survive on top ramen for a month afterwards.
If any of this appeals to you definitely give Buffalo a whirl. They are across the country in 17 states (sorry Mid-west/Northeast readers they haven’t made it out that way yet). Check out the website at www.buffaloexchange.com to find a store near you. If you are local in Philly the store in on Chestnut St. between 17th and 18th St. (across from Sephora).
p.s. Here are some of my favorite finds from Buffalo: