Inside Second Chic’s Elmwood Avenue location, Andrea Dimmer and Lindsey Holland sit at the cash register discussing their favorite topic: thrifting.
Dimmer is dressed in an outfit rich in primary colors -- bright red, lime green, dark gray -- Holland is donning a cozy all-black-and-gray ensemble with chunky black boots. They're working their shifts at the local consignment shop, which, partly through its active social media presence, attracts young women searching for curated vintage goods beyond the racks at Goodwill. Between answering questions, they greet customers and check consigner's balances.
When asked, neither knew the number of consignment shops and secondhand clothing stores in Western New York. Neither was expecting there to be 40, which is how many I found when compiling this list.
All three of us are avid thrifters. Throughout our conversation, the women discuss relatable relationships with thrifting throughout their lives. Dimmer proudly shares her thrift hauls on social media to followers.
Pre-Macklemore days and his hit song "Thrift Shop," thrift shopping didn’t carry its current reputation associated with a one-of-a-kind personal style, environmental consciousness and a revered frugality. Instead, there was a stigma associated with second-hand clothing. Sometime around the 2008 recession, articles about thrift shopping becoming mainstream started popping up.
“When I grew up, my mom was like ‘You can’t go there, it’s not clean,’ ” Dimmer said. “I’m like, ‘That’s what washing machines are for.’”
“There was a stigma back then,” Dimmer said. As a child, Holland felt the stigma, too.
Growing up, her family did a lot of back to school shopping at garage sales and consignment shops. Which, as a 7-year-old, she wasn’t crazy about, carrying the same anxious sentiment that a lot of children could relate to: “What if someone sees me?”
For her, the stigma was over by high school.
During Dimmer's first trip to a cheap thrift store with her friend in high school, she admits she didn't know what she was doing and remembers leaving with a Dairy Queen softball tee. “It made no sense,” Dimmer said. She then learned to shop for vintage '80s dresses that she would alter with her mother, then over time, started shopping for everything.
When both women first started secondhand shopping, they would buy everything remotely likable, because of its sheer inexpensiveness or their perceived values of the items. Whether it’s general maturity or personal taste growth or a combination of both, they’ve honed their style. They buy less and curate more. But, experimenting with clothing is a big part of the fun, right?
“There’s only one of everything and so if you’re sort of attracted to it in some way, whether it’s color or fabric or silhouette, whatever it might be, it’s worth trying to just figure out what fits you really nice,” Dimmer said. “It allows you to kind of develop your style in a way that maybe you wouldn’t if you were just shopping from either fast fashion.”
Before you embark on a secondhand shop journey, Dimmer and Holland have some advice. Be consistent, playful enough (yet picky enough) and don't expect a huge haul on every visit. Value is in the eye of the beholder, not necessarily in the brand's name.
I'll throw my own piece of advice in there, too. If you found the item at one of your favorite stores, would you want it?
We've searched for all of the consignment and secondhand shops in Western New York that either focus on clothing, or feature a lot of it. Not including the large thrift chains, such as Salvation Army and Goodwill, here's what we've found. (If you know of a store that is missing off of this list, email email@example.com.)
"There is so many fish in the sea," Holland said. “I’ve learned to not be so attached to things."
Second’s Best Consignment 41 Main St., Akron
Under One Roof - New 2 You 13394 Broadway St., Alden
Clothes Mentor 9490 Transit Road, Suite 102, East Amherst
Plato’s Closet 9490 Transit Road, East Amherst
Arcade Junction 320 Main St., Arcade
A Kings Ransom 3748 South Park Ave., Blasdell
Once Upon A Child 4271 Lake Ave., Blasdell
New To You Shop 286 Grant St. (886-2490)
The Serendipity Shoppe 1 Symphony Circle, inside the First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo.
Vincent's Discount Store 1298 Main St.
Yar Mo’s Muse 700 Main St.
Ritzy Rags 4060 Union Road
2 Good 2 Be Threw 10225 Main St., Clarence
Best Dressed Kids 4885 Broadway, Depew
Buffalo City Mission Thrift Store 510 Dick Road, Depew
My Cuzin Vintage 168 Elmwood Ave.
Rumpelstiltskin’s 818 Elmwood Ave.
Scoop Shop 648 Auburn Ave.
Second Chic 810 Elmwood Ave.
Betsy’s Consignment 34 W. Washington St., Ellicottville
Til You Drop Shoppe 4 West Main St., Fredonia
Second Chic 140 Pine St., Hamburg
Miss Josie’s Uniques & Antiques 2824 Delaware Ave.
The Painted Lady 3147 Delaware Ave., Kenmore
Grace Gift & Thrift 100 Genesee St., Lockport
MAAC Thrift Depot 536 Orient St., Medina
2nd Chance Consignment 8656 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls
Peek-A-Boo Baby Boutique 1446 Hertel Ave.
2nd Hand Roe's 10538 Main. St., North Collins (337-0019)
Kids Corner Clothing 3287 Niagara Falls Blvd., North Tonawanda
Attic To Basement Repeats 83 Broad St., Tonawanda
Clothes Mentor 1030 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda
Moms N’ Tots 4279 Delaware Ave., Tonawanda
Plato’s Closet 1030 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda
Clothes Mentor Southgate Plaza, Union Road, West Seneca
Plato’s Closet Southgate Plaza, Union Road, West Seneca
Carousel Clothing & Collectibles 6094 Main St., Williamsville
Finders Keepers 418 Evans St., Williamsville
Hello Again 8619 Main St., Williamsville
Peddlers Consignment Shoppe 5655 Main St., Suite 4, Williamsville
Second Chic 5454 Main St., Williamsville
The Little Chic Boutique 414 Evans St., Williamsville, 634-5383