Thrifting on Telegraph draws year-round customers

BERKELEY, Calif.— Ariel Dekovic, a Berkeley native, sat with a box of sweaters, hats, jackets, jeans and more at Buffalo Exchange. She was planning to sell all of the items to the thrift shop, something she does twice a year.

Every other month, she can be found at Buffalo Exchange buying clothes, shoes, and accessories. The purse she currently carries is from a Buffalo Exchange store, she says.


Ariel Dekovic sits with a box of clothing she’s selling to Buffalo Exchange. Photo by Victoria Shirley

“I think the idea of better prices,” said Dekovic about why thrift shopping and selling appeals to her.

Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph Avenue in this college town was the first location for the store in this state when it opened in the early 1980s, according to its website. All products sold at the store are bought, sold and traded locally. Items sold at the store include vintage, designer, one-of-a-kind items, costumes and even current and new clothing, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

Buffalo Exchange is dedicated to helping the community in more ways than one: When customers decline a bag, they are offered a 5-cent token instead to donate to one of three charities through the Tokens for Bags® program. This program claims credit for saving more than 13 million bags from landfills. Buffalo Exchange also supports food pantries, animal shelters, LGBT organizations, homeless aid, local libraries and schools, women’s support centers and more.

Mars Mercantile is another store in the thrifting business, one of many in Berkeley. It is one of seven stores in the San Francisco area under Retro City Fashions Inc. and under its current ownership since 1993. The owner buys clothes from various warehouses, and from there they are distributed to different stores.

Ashley Gardner, the manager, said most of their shoppers are between the ages of 16 and 25. During the summer, however, Mars also gets an influx of traffic from tourists, especially from Europe.

mars wallMost of the clothes that come in are from the 1970s and 1990s. However, that doesn’t always match what shoppers are searching for: “The demographic that comes in here is people that are looking for really vintage stuff, like the 50s,” she said.

As a thrift shop, Mars Mercantile sees a lot of crazy clothes, notably fur collars with the fox face still attached.
“It’s just fun to see all the clothes coming in from different eras,” Gardner said.