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Sustainable Chic: How Northwest’s Vintage Shops Are Changing the Fashion Game

In the new year, you may have set resolutions seeking to live lighter on the planet, reduce spending, take care of things that matter, or even make over your wardrobe. Did you know that shopping locally, specifically vintage and thrift, can help you achieve all of those resolutions at once? Plus, you’ll get the added benefit of shopping locally in our beautiful community, supporting local businesses and improving our economy all at once, too!

We’re truly lucky in our area of the Northwest to have several amazing locally-owned vintage and thrift stores run by small business owners. Bookmark this list of incredible, locally-run stores and why shopping locally (vintage or thrift if possible!) is so important. 

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Vintage is the new luxury! Now you may ask yourself, how could something old be a new luxury? For example, if you buy a modern black button-up top from a big box store vs a vintage black button-up top from your local vintage store, the first thing you might notice is quality. 

White Swan pas de deux with Elizabeth Murphy and Lucien Postlewaite (c) Angela Sterling

I don’t think anyone can deny that quality has decreased over the years since the online fast-fashion boom. Cheaper materials and low wages for workers are the top culprits of why fast fashion quality has gone so far downhill. Cheap prices entice us to buy and then buy more and more and more and more. 

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It might be cheaper, but what about the longevity of that item? It doesn’t last because fast fashion doesn’t want it to last. I’ve had clothing that was over 100 years old that withstood the test of time because it was so well made; vintage fabrics are thick and luscious, buttons, snaps and zippers are high quality. You can feel the craftsmanship in a lot of vintage clothing just by touching it. 

That is not to say that every vintage piece of clothing is high quality, but many curators of vintage clothing in town do work hard to bring you good top-quality pieces.

But isn’t vintage clothing outdated? Not even close! Many people are slowly starting to realize that we are constantly being manipulated by fast fashion giants to buy all these new “trendy” pieces of clothing, but it’s just to make us want to buy more. I personally am over buying from big box stores online and funding CEOs to go to the moon.

According to Forbes, when you spend $100 at a small business, $68 stays in the community. Spend the same $100 at a big-box store or national retailer; only $43 stays. Why? Because local businesses rely on other local businesses. Local businesses create local jobs, you’re directly supporting your community both socially and economically. You’re helping the environment by conserving energy and resources by using less fuel in transportation and less packaging. Once I became more aware, I realized that I was in control of where I wanted my money going. 

Many have argued that vintage and thrift stores are the same. Thrift stores are generally businesses that receive free donations, sell higher priced items online and the rest you dig through and hunt for in their store. Vintage shops have already done the digging, bought their items, and processed and curated these said items for their customers. 

Both are a great way to support your local community and the environment at the same time, but I do urge you to do research on who in your area is a local business vs. CEO-run, plus if they are for-profit or non-profit organizations. Keep in mind that many big thrift stores get huge tax breaks that small businesses do not. 

The Importance of Shopping Local

I asked a couple of my favorite locally owned vintage store owners to tell us a little bit about why shopping local is important to them:

“What does shopping small and local look like? Relationships, collaboration, networking, and ultimately growing businesses together. Vintage shopping is an experience in itself in that you get to see and touch and have an experience, unlike online shopping. When you shop locally, it goes beyond the product and into developing relationships. Our customer base shops frequently for great vintage products, but also, I think they come in to chat, find out where the best coffee shop is, get some ideas for other places to shop and eat, and generally have a fun conversation with a local business person. 

Shopping local isn’t just buying a product – it’s engaging with people who live in our community – building lasting relationships built around common interests like vintage clothing and encouraging each other towards success.”

Joellen – Boulevard Mercantile

“Shopping local (vintage) is essential for vibrant communities and sustainable economies. When we support local (vintage) businesses, we invest in the heart of our neighborhoods, fostering a sense of community and preserving unique character. These establishments often source products regionally, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Moreover, local spending circulates within the community, creating jobs and boosting local tax revenues, which, in turn, fund essential services. 

Every dollar of your money you spend is a political choice.”

Paul – Teleport Vintage 

“Shopping at indie boutiques makes your world larger. When you walk into DIWS or any curated boutique shoppe that’s owned and operated by locals, you see culture in your own neighborhood. Avant-garde styles you see in the media may seem far-fetched but once you’ve seen them in your local shoppes suddenly makes these fresh ideas and repurposed items a part of your community. 

Independently owned shoppes offer inventive products directly to the people. Not preplanned items aimed to appeal to the masses that come from big box retailers designed to tell you it’s trendy.”

Erin – Do it With Soul

You may be wondering, what’s the best way other than shopping to support my favorite locally owned shops? You don’t have to spend money to help our local businesses out! you can also:

  • Share social media posts
  • Leave Google reviews
  • Spread the word to your family and friends
  • Show them this article!
  • Stop by and chat with your favorite local business owners

Some places I recommend stopping by, places where I source my favorite vintage and thrift items, include: Boulevard Mercantile, Teleport, Do it With Soul, Midtown Market, Collective Threads, Veda Lux, Global Neighborhood Thrift. Your list may look a little different, but the important thing is to get out there and support your local community.

Fay Ripley

Hi everyone my name is Fay and I own Red Leaf Vintage. I have been buying and selling vintage clothing for seven years and have three locations in Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene where I sell. I love vintage clothing and learning about sustainable fashion, so I hope you will join my journey in learning new things and getting excited about vintage fashion! 


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