More “Second Hand” Clothing Venues Welcome by Sellers; “Everyone has their own niche here in Portland,” York

"We're Used to a World of Disposable Clothing, But the Most Sustainable Textiles are Pre-existing Ones," Parrot.

Professional Photographer Jamie Mercurio Does 75% of Her Shopping at Second Hand Clothing Stores

"Little Ghost" Owner Dawn York (R) with Her Supportive Father-in-law, Paul Boudreau

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,153)

“Everyone has their own niche here in Portland,” said Dawn York this afternoon. “There’s not a lot of competition among us because of that.” York opened “Little Ghost” last month in The Time & Temperature Building. She describes her business as “vintage and thrift. My customers are looking for a bargain. Portland is a big place that can support two different types of shoppers.” York said that she has always wanted to be her own boss. When the large, former “Books Revisited” storefront became available early this year, she jumped in with both feet. She’s open seven days a week and isn’t looking for any consignment items just now. For ten years, York was a merchandise manager at Old Navy, Maine Mall.

In contrast to “Little Ghost” is Munjoy Hill’s newest consignment business, “Plum.” Owner Kelly Williams has assembled a small but select collection of name brand dresses, tops and other items for sale. She describes her inventory as “upscale clothes with no age tied to them.” She does not accept vintage clothes. (Vintage clothes are 20 years or older, dating back to 1992). Williams believes the increase in venues, is just a part of “the recycling movement. It’s part of being green. People have been doing it for years.” A Hill resident, Williams says she has always shopped at second-hand stores because she can buy “designer” clothes at reduced prices. She has extensive experience in the marketing of second hand clothes. “Plum” has been open almost two weeks. It’s located at 316A Congress Street, at Franklin Street.

Over at “Flea-For-All” Market, co-owner Nathaniel Baldwin said: “I believe the proliferation of second hand clothing stores is because of the economy. There is something about the vintage aesthetic that is very appealing. There is a missing iconic leader in fashion today. People are looking to the past for styles that aren’t here today,” Baldwin said. “There’s a real difference between vintage and second hand clothing and most sellers adhere strictly to that difference. All vintage vendors spend a lot of time looking for stuff that is hand-picked,” he said.

“Find” at 16 Free Street was founded in 2009 by Laura and Bob Ker, former Hill residents. Since then the couple has expanded into Scarborough. Style and condition is what matters most to this young couple, according to Bob. Jamie Mercurio, a professional photographer, says she shops at second hand stores because she is attracted to the “uniquness of style of other peoples’ clothes.” She wears them for a few months and them recycles them.

Peaks Islander, Suzanne Parrot is a vendor at “Flea-for-All” Market said “there is a growing number of vintage and second hand venues. It’s partly because of the economy. There’s a second hand store on Exchange Street. That would have been unheard of ten years ago. It used to be all boutiques.” An artist by education, Parrot upcycles cast off clothing and makes it into something of “greater use and value. Textiles make up one fifth of our municipal waste. Only about a tenth is recycled in some way. Part of the philosophy of upcycling is zero waste.” Her new company is Rickrack Upcycled Clothing and she can be reached at islandpainter@earthlink.net

editor’s note: Haberdashery Resale, 229 Congress Street, is not yet open and could not be included in this article. It is expected to open sometime later in June. Please see Post # 1,132, dated 5/8/12, for more information.