Downtown stores reimagine the thrift shopping experience

Elianna Oliver, Copy Editor

Dear Society:

A small boutique tucked in the heart of the West Bottoms, Dear Society is a store that puts a twist on traditional thrift shopping. The store falls under a modern-vintage variety and store manager Jessica Brinck emphasized Dear Society’s aim to make antique pieces new again.

“There are a lot of things that we bring in that we change up a little bit,” Brinck said. “If something looks super ‘80s we will change it, like take out the shoulder pads or change the silhouette a little bit and it looks more modern and you’re like ‘Oh, I never would even think to wear that, but it looks cool.’”

The store not only carries clothing, it also has home goods and apothecary items. The owners said they get their products from a variety of places to ensure they’re selling the best items.

“The two owners do a lot of thrifting, they go to estate sales, sometimes they find stuff on ebay or Etsy,” Brinck said. “For our modern stuff, they go to market twice a year to buy all the new stuff.”

In order to showcase their hand-picked products, the owners opted for a simple, clean interior. The walls are white and accents of wood and plants are sprinkled throughout the store. When walking in, senior Savannah King said she felt happy due to the carefree atmosphere.

“I really like the simple, clean look with good lighting and cute decorations,” King said.

With an inviting environment, comes an opportunity for a variety of customers. Brinck said the store caters to a large age group of people — some of which surprise her.

“There are some people that come in that I wouldn’t assume would shop at our store just based on their style when they come in, but they end up finding something,” Brinck said.

Not only has the store provided for customers, Brinck said she personally accredits the store for many good things in her life.

“I feel like it has brought a community of really great women into my life, from the people I work with, to even just customers,” Brinck said. “People come in regularly that are now kind of my friends, not just a customer that I help.”

With a passion for her job and an exciting mission statement, Brink said her career has redirected her shopping habits.

“I tend to prefer vintage [clothes] now, just knowing thrifting is better for the environment — reusing old clothes — fast fashion is bad for the environment and workers,” Brinck said. “I still occasionally go to Forever 21 or whatever but I tend to sway more toward vintage or thrifting, and it’s way cheaper usually.”

With the prices and opportunity for unique pieces in mind, King said she too prefers vintage shopping and enjoys how it pushes her out of her fashion comfort zone.

“If I have something specific I’m shopping for, I’ll usually go retail,” King said. “But thrifting is nice to [do] when you have a day off and you have time to look through stuff because you’re not looking for anything specific.”

Dear Society’s variety — new pieces and reworked vintage — accounts for prices ranging from low to high, however King said it is worth the sacrifice.               

“The prices are pretty high for a high school student to be paying, but the pieces are really good quality and are going to last you a long time, so I think it’s really reasonable,” King said.

At the end of the day, Dear Society is a small shop with a big aim — to create a new definition of thrifting. Brinck said Dear Society does a good job of trying to create an easier thrifting experience for the customer.

“Thrifting takes a lot of patience, and I’m still not the best at it,” Brinck said. “You have to go rack by rack, so I think that’s why stores like this are nice, because someone has already curated it for you.”


Nova Made & Found:

Wandering into a little store in downtown Kansas City, senior Sydney Quijano is bombarded with personality and bright colors. She takes a look around and is enveloped in all the beautiful clothes and furniture around her. She is greeted with an inviting smile and she feels welcome.

Nova Made & Found is a vintage-thrift shop in Kansas City that sells a variety of reused items. The store is owned by Nova Engle who chose to open a store that meant something to her personally.

“Well, I had boys and I am a second Nova in the family — my great grandma’s name was Nova — so this is my way of carrying it on,” Engle said.

The significance behind the name is one of many things that draws customers such as Quijano into the shop. She said the store has a home-like atmosphere and she appreciates the variation in products.

“I like how it’s named after her and it’s named after her great grandmother so it has a back story,” Quijano said. “I like the fact that it has furniture and water bottles and Koozies, and whatever she finds and thinks is cool.”

Engle works hard to maintain her store’s product variety and range. She said she drives statewide and occasionally out of state to find the best pieces to showcase and sell for her customers.

“I drive a lot and put a lot of miles on my truck,” Engle said. “I have family in other states, and I’ll make an excuse when I go visit them to check out auctions and just bring a truckload home.”

Not only does she self-supply her store, but Engle is an independent business owner and does not have anyone else who works with her. Quijano said her free spirit and drive is something she admires about the business structure.

“I thought it was really cool that she was the only one working at the store because it was all her and she’s super sweet and very talkative and she told me everything about the store,” Quijano said. “It was super cool how close she was to the store because you could tell she was passionate about it.”

With the store as her own personal platform, Engle said she likes to keep things fresh and new and keep her customers on their toes.

“I don’t stick to a general aesthetic,” Engle said. “I change it as quickly as possible because I get bored with things easily so I want customers to have something new to look at every time they come in.”

Engle said her customers are most important and she tries to tailor her store’s aesthetic to make the customer feel right at home. Nova Made & Found is filled with plants and colorful knick-knacks to draw in customers and catch their eyes.

“A lot of it’s based on how I decorate at home,” Engle said. “I’ve always been drawn to a tropical vibe so I try to incorporate tropical plants and make it feel more at home here at the shop. I kind of set it up like it’s a new apartment, I call it my apartment in the city, that way it can be visualized to the customer how it’s going to look set up in a home — not so much a store setup but a home setup.”

With a store that looks and feels like home, Engle said it has turned into her life. She is grateful for the opportunity the store has given her to live out her dream and share her passion with the world around her.

“It means creative freedom,” Engle said. “I’m not tied to a 9 to 5 job anymore that I hate and I have more time with my family and making money doing what I love is like anybody’s dream, so that’s what it means to me.”