Tales From a Buffalo Exchange Reject…and How Not to Get Rejected This Summer


One morning, with a sudden burst of determination, you excavate your closet. Goodbye to the pants you hoped would fit again some day, the funky necklace you only wore once, the precariously high heels still nestled in their box. You throw it all into a big duffel bag or two, then haul it over to Buffalo Exchange, the “eco-friendly” buy/sell/trade vintage store. Yay! Your clothes will get a new home! You’ll get cash or store credit! Plus, you’ll have more closet space for multiple new outfits, just in time for all those long, sweaty, action-packed summer days. But wait — don’t get too excited yet. First, your clothes have to pass the test.

Hello. I am a Buffalo Exchange reject. Are you one too? Have your beloved clothes been deemed “not hip enough,” piece after piece, by BE? Does it make you wonder whether your past self was a complete fashion fool? Don’t be ashamed. It’s not you. Well, not just you, anyway. You’re not alone.

Linda, a repeat shopper and seller at both Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet, tries not to watch when the buyers pick through her offerings. She said, “I find it intimidating. I think, I wore that. You don’t even want it for $5?” She once brought four large Ikea bags filled with high-end designer duds in good condition to sell, with little luck. A few dollars for a pair of Marc Jacobs shoes? Buffalo Exchange passed on them, too.

Francois, in Brooklyn, was unable to sell back a pair of clear Nike sneakers he’d originally purchased from Buffalo Exchange. They also didn’t want a pair of gently used black leather Reebok Pumps, worn only once, and purchased online for $90. Another woman at the Williamsburg store walked away still holding onto her pair of red Frye boots. And the East Village location wouldn’t buy a brand new pair of jeans — tags still on — from one woman, though they did accept those jeans as a donation.

Many Yelp reviewers of New York’s Buffalo Exchange stores tell shoppers to rejoice in the great bargains and finds, but warn sellers to beware of the very picky standards. As one reviewer noted, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure — that is, only if it’s deemed good enough by the gods of the goods at BE.”

A manager at the East Village store said she understands that selling clothes can be a very personal matter. Buffalo Exchange, she said, is not the kind of place that’s constantly turning down sellers’ clothes. “We try to explain that we’re running a business, it’s not personal.” The store’s buyers all shop constantly in town and online — it’s in their job description — and have a firm sense of what the latest trends are. They’ll take things in good condition, old or new, as long as it reflects current styles.

The first time I tried to sell there, my buyer kindly told me, while patiently examining, re-folding, and putting all my clothes in the out pile: “We just know what sells and what doesn’t — we can only take what we know will sell. We’re very limited on space.”

This summer, the Buffalo Exchange gods have declared: Women want prints. “90s.” High-waisted cutoff denim shorts. Platform shoes, big wedges. Men want tighter, shorter shorts than ever before. Colorful pants. Things that are “Hamptons-esque.”

If you’ve got any of that sort of thing to get rid of, get thee to BE. Good luck.