One of the biggest chain vintage clothing stores in Japan, 2nd STREET, calls themselves a “Reuse Shop” on their Japanese website.
It’s an interesting word choice. It does not emphasize their high product quality as what “vintage” usually suggests (although it’s such an inflated word now), or indicates the cost-efficiency like another commonly used word, “thrift”, in this second-hand trading industry. It puts its focus on the concept of recycling and being part of the environmental movement. It’s not just about saving money, or so much just about fashion. Although you can, indeed, almost certainly find both needs satisfied after a shopping trip to one of their stores.
Last weekend, 2nd STREET opened its first East Coast location in the NoHo neighborhood of New York City. This new spot is located in the heart of Astor Place, facing the prestigious NYU Tisch School of The Arts. It also neighbors its direct competitor, Buffalo Exchange, a local chain thrift store with over 50 stores across the United States. Speaking of which, the store manager of 2nd Street Noho, Daisuke Oumiya, did not seem worried, “We already have 600 stores in Japan. It wouldn’t be that hard to open up another 100 in the U.S., would it?”
Thanks to their invitation, KKS was able to get first dibs on their thousands of fun items at their opening party and, oh man, what a treat.
I was psyched the minute walking into the store. The space looked petite from the entrance, but extended far towards the back. The racks were neatly packed with well-sorted sweaters, hoodies, cardigans, and winter jackets fitting the season. The 2013 Alternative hit “Instant Crush” by Daft Punk (ft. Julian Casablancas) was playing in the background, dressing the shop with a deft swagger.
The store staff greeted me warmly and asked if I was planning to sell. Guess the giant Santa Claus sack I brought in gave away the clue. I filled out some forms and was suggested to look around their wide selections while waiting for their final quote – a standard procedure for sellers.
The wonderful thing about 2nd STREET USA is that you can immediately find stuff you like without much probing. It’ll be an “instant crush”, you may say. Unlike many similar shops with a larger inventory on display, 2nd STREET operates in a way resembling boutiques with the same level of service, which is a combination of self-service and personalized assistance, albeit a much lower price range. Following one of their shop assistants’ recommendation, I picked out my first item to buy, a fluffy bucket hat. I had it on for the entire night. My photographer also got a smart Donald Duck wool pullover for her girlfriend. Both items were in perfect condition, yet costing a mere $25 each.
Dancing to the 80s’ jangle pop from the Cure and the Smiths the shop was playing all night to my liking, the two of us scored two bomber jackets, a sweater, a backpack and a hat that would make us two hip-hop assassins with just a little over $120 after their special opening discount.
Meanwhile, I also got the cash from my selling – an Opening Ceremony hoodie sold for $40, and a few dresses for $15 each. I was not able to get rid of my Manolo Blahnik pumps and Miu Miu flats, though – the buyers make offers with precision in style and season, regardless of the brand. They did suggest that I come back in the summer, but seeing that the store is largely filled with retro-inspired apparel and street-style fashion, these Devil Wears Prada office overkills might just be better off staying on my shoe rack gathering dust, reminding me constantly of my unnecessary shopping sprees.
2nd STREET USA now has six stores scattered in California and New York. If you haven’t a chance to drop by yet, do give it a try! If you are not coastal babies, no worries. They also sell their products online! Visit their website to become part of the recycling task force starting from today!
Photo Credit: Tiantian Ma