Eugene Weekly : Fashion : 8.21.08

Reuse, Recycle, Rewear
Green in more ways than one
by Courtney Jacobs

Lately, filling your gas tank and your stomach is nearly enough to empty your wallet. Many people are trying as hard as they can to stretch their dollars in the continuing doldrums of recession, and some of the best places they’ve found to accomplish this stretch are local resale and secondhand stores. The mall isn’t necessarily the place to shop when the prices of necessities like food and gas are rising. But secondhand stores, where you can get the same stuff for half (or less) of what you’d usually spend, are.

Aaron & Mitra Chester of Deluxe. Photo by Todd Cooper.
Photo Courtesy of Buffalo Exchange

“Most of our stuff falls between $7 and $20,” says Mitra Chester, the owner of Deluxe (1331 Willamette). “You definitely, definitely save money.” Deluxe sells both secondhand garb and local designer brands for extremely reasonable prices. 

With not only the economy but also the environment in turmoil, the “green trend” — referring to saving money as well as saving the planet — is becoming incredibly popular. “Reuse Rethink Redesign Resell” is the new logo for the local resale store Infinity Mercantile (780 Blair Blvd.). Iris Porter, the store manager, says that one of the main reasons she chooses to work there is because via resale, the shop provides a service “to the community and to the world.” 

“We’re here to make a profit and buy groceries,” Porter says, “but we’re also here to provide a service.”

Buffalo Exchange (131 E. Fifth Ave.) encourages environmental awareness in their customers by offering 5 cent charity donation tokens to those who don’t take a plastic bag for their purchases. Boxes by the door collect the tokens, and the proceeds benefit various causes. “Right now we have three main charities,” says Kari Pape, the store manager. “We keep clothing and plastic out of landfills.” Buffalo Exchange, Infinity Mercantile and Deluxe are just three of the local stores where you can make a little extra dough — or come away with some new items — by selling back the neglected clothes in the back of your closet.

According to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, the resale industry is growing at approximately five percent a year. The association also says that one of the main reasons for growth in the resale industry is the public’s increased awareness of recycling. Though business is slipping in other parts of the retail sector, Nobody’s Baby (365 E. 13th Ave.), a local secondhand vintage store, hasn’t noticed a negative change in business or revenue due to the economic slowdown. “When people walk in this door, I think they leave the world behind them,” says manager Morgan Monroe. “We steer away from the negative.”

Business is also looking good for Buffalo Exchange. “The nature of resale business tends to do better during an economic downfall,” Pape says. She also says that the store has “definitely seen an increase in business.”

Local designers are also reaping the benefits from secondhand stores. According to Chester, locally designed stuff is “booming” in her store. “We are supporting the local economy and environment,” she says. 

Porter also agrees and says, “We’re focused on supporting our local designers.”

Spend a few hours on the UO campus or in downtown Eugene, and it becomes obvious that the city is home to some innovative trends. Where do you suppose these trendsetters find such interesting and exclusive outfits? Resale shops, of course! “A store like this has something for everyone,” Chester says. “Everything is unique and super one-of-a-kind.” 

Infinity Mercantile, Buffalo Exchange and Nobody’s Baby also carry a variety of one-of-a-kind clothing articles and accessories. “We try to have something for everyone,” says Pape.

This modern “green trend” gives a whole new kick to the drive and desire to reduce, reuse and recycle. So keep your used garments out of landfills and consider trading, donating or selling them instead. It’ll help you save money and look good.

More Fashion:

Go With the Flow Eugene-based eco-attire imitates nature

Reuse, Recycle, Rewear Green in more ways than one

Funderwear Indie drawers from a local

Fashion on the Street A random sampling of Eugene style