Second Chic finds second home
Interior shots from Second Chic's new Hertel Avenue location
Thrifting is akin to a treasure hunt for some, a welcome challenge to infuse vintage items into a contemporary wardrobe or to find and obtain the ultimate statement piece. In some cases, thrifting takes patience, and in all instances, it requires dedication. The opportunities to hunt in Buffalo are plentiful, and for shoppers and consignors alike, a new Second Chic location is a welcome addition.
Newly open on Hertel Avenue, owner Annie Adams has created a second store purely to meet demand. “I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t open a second store,” confesses Hertel store manager Katie Smith. "All of the clothing you see here is essentially overstock from our Elmwood location. We were at capacity.”
The former antique store (1421 Hertel Avenue) seems to be a perfect fit for the shop, and given the other thrift clothing and antique furniture stores on Hertel, it’s an ideal setting for a consignment shop. “We were considering a space on Niagara Falls Boulevard, but this one was available right away,” said Adams. “It really fits us so well.” Renovations took only a month, and the shop hosted its grand opening on October 10.
The major difference between the two locations is purely physical—while the Elmwood shop is tucked away from the street at the rear of 810 Elmwood Ave., the North Buffalo store, with big, bright window displays, sits directly on one of the city's busiest sidewalks. “If customers haven’t been here before, or aren’t already familiar with our Elmwood store, it’s easier to just happen by,” says Smith.
The stores are otherwise the same: they carry both men and women’s clothing, although Smith admits they target women more because they are their core customer, but the consignment process is the same (which you can read in full here). After three months, consignors have the option of picking up their items or letting Second Chic donate them to Journey’s End, a service they’ve been offering for the last year. Smith says a van comes once a month and they fill it each time.
Apparent at both locations is the dedication of Second Chic employees, both to their jobs and to their passion for thrifting and fashion. Lauren Mentkowski, Elmwood store manager, has been collecting (and flipping) vintage clothing for almost nine years. “I don’t know how many rolling racks of clothing I would have accrued over the years if I didn’t turn around and sell some of what I’ve purchased,” says Mentkowski. She enjoys vintage pieces because of their higher quality and durability. Even more importantly, she loves it when there is a story behind a piece she acquires.
Mentkowski says the places where she finds many of her vintage gems are a secret, but she will share that she shops at Miss Josie’s Vintages and Antiques (only every few months, since she says she tends to “clean house” when she visits). She also finds a lot of great pieces at Second Chic, especially when she is able to handpick items from people’s personal collections.
Items from Mentkowki's personal collection (left to right): Stitched fringe Guatemalan poncho and leather Minnetonka hat with buffalo nickel detailing; handmade Kimono with velvet tassels and Oak Tree Farms' Western-style shoes; Vintage fox fur and Dingo cowboy boots (photos by Lauren Mentkowski)
Hearing Mentkowski fawn over a friend’s cowboy boot collection or wax poetic about the prized, hand-beaded navy dress she has yet to wear is inspiring, even to someone who feels they lack the patience to dig through racks of clothing. But with two stores, and more than two thousand individual items available at the Hertel store alone, we’re all bound to find something at Second Chic meant just for us.
“The people of Buffalo are really into expressing themselves through fashion,” says Smith. “We have consignors who know more about fashion than I do, who really enjoy the treasure hunt of consignment.”
Jessica Railey is a regular contributor to BuffaloSpree.com