Emily Thungkaew

Buy, Sell, Luv

By - Apr 3rd, 2010 04:00 am
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Sometimes, I feel compelled to go shopping. Not out of necessity, though. I crave the quick swipe of a credit card and the smell of a crisp, new shirt. A successful day at the mall is like a natural high. I practically beam when someone asks, “Nice shoes, are they new?”

My mother would call this a problem. Luckily I’ve found a better alternative to sate my cravings: buy, sell, trade.

Last week, Natalie showed us how to perform a little “spring cleaning” on our closets. If you’re wondering what to do with those impulse buys you never wore or those jeans you kept for when the weight was gone (please), look no further than ReThreads in Riverwest and Luv Unlimited in Bay View. Both stores offer cash or in-store credit for your unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories. Why let perfectly good clothing end up in a landfill when it could be put to good use —  and put money back in your pocket?

When I stumbled into ReThreads one afternoon, I have to admit that I sort of expected it to smell of a church basement, or to resemble something of a Goodwill. I was surprised to see large windows letting in plenty of cheerful sunlight over the array of clothing, shoes and jewelry, and to find that the dressing rooms were tidy and the staff was unbelievably hospitable.

Sara Gilbert, (she refers to herself as “Boss Lady”) explained that participating in buy, sell, trade is a good way to save and make good money, not to mention that it’s 100% eco-friendly.

At Re Threads, you can find quality items for a quarter of the original price, and when I say quality, I mean it.  In my half hour perusing the racks I found vintage items with designer labels like Oscar de la Renta, Diane Von Furstenberg and Christian Dior!

Another great thing about Re Threads is their sell/trade policy. When you bring in items, they either pay you 35 percent in cash, or give you 50 percent in-store credit that won’t expire. The sell/trade counter is open seven days a week and no appointment is necessary. But buyers are selective, so don’t expect them to purchase every item that’s brought in (right now they are looking for casual spring wear, FYI). That doesn’t mean your clothes will go to waste, though — everything that Re Threads doesn’t purchase will be donated to local shelters.

Gilbert said her favorite part of the whole process is working with the customers. With an interactive Facebook page, the staff coaches people over the phone or online about what types of clothes they should bring in and sends personal messages to customers if a garment they were looking for happens to come in. “I love when I hear customers say, ‘I never thought I’d be able to buy this!'” exclaimed Gilbert.

Later that afternoon, I ventured down to Luv Unlimited. There I was greeted by co-owners Becky Heck and Sage Schwarm. I was immediately enamored with the picturesque displays. From the original artwork that adorned the walls to the massively collaged dressing rooms that Heck created by hand, everywhere I looked there was something beautiful or interesting to see.

The two artists started Luv in 2004. combining new and new-to-you  items, as well as a few handcrafted pieces. Heck has multiple creations all over the store including hair accessories made from recycled materials, rag dolls, lavender eye pillows, paintings and own clothing line made of recycled material cleverly called “Hex.” Schwarm works to resell records (there are hundreds), incense (some which are hand-dipped by him), and custom-made screen-printed t-shirts.

With an appointment, you can come in and sell or trade your clothing items for 25 percent cash or 30 percent store credit.

Heck explained that she never thought that she would end up opening her own store, but loves the connection the store has to the community, “I love being a part of the neighborhood. If someone brings me part of their outfit, I love to help them finish it. Everyone needs a pair of awesome, silvery, sparkly go-go boots.”

I agree, and have found new love in Milwaukee’s fashionable buy, sell, trade community.

Check out a photo gallery of both stores, courtesy of TCD’s Photo Editor Brian Jacobson.

Categories: Fashion, Threads

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