Poppin' tags: New high-end thrift shop thrives

While most of us know someone who can score killer designer duds at stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the SPCA Rummage Store on Preston Avenue, successful thrift shopping can be a hit-or-miss endeavor, requiring regular visits, eagle eyes and a fashionista's knowledge of brands if you want to find the gems tucked among the junk.

Not so at Trade, the new thrift store at the North Wing of Barracks Road, where owner Laura Van Camp makes thrift shopping feel like a trip to an upscale boutique by offering an array of popular labels including Banana Republic, Anthropologie, BCBG, Coach, Marc Jacobs, J. Crew, and Nine West.

Van Camp, who launched her first store, Jean Theory, on the Downtown Mall back in 2009 says the success of that store's thrift section prompted the opening of Trade.

“We were getting in so much great clothing [at Jean Theory] that we couldn’t house,” she says. “I just thought that splitting the two concepts and letting Jean Theory focus on premium denim and fitting would allow a different store to focus on the buying and selling of gently used clothing.”

The decision seems to be paying off, says Van Camp, who notes that since Trade opened on April 20, there's been a steady stream of shoppers— and clothing donors. In fact, according to Van Camp, so many customers were interested in bringing their clothes to Trade that she had to limit buying days to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when anyone can walk in with their women's clothing or shoes, and Van Camp or one of her employees will sort through it and make a cash offer— 30 percent of the projected selling price— or a store credit offer, which is 45 percent of the projected selling price and can be redeemed at Trade or Jean Theory.

Of course the focus on fancier brands means the prices aren't quite the bargains you'll find at Goodwill, where shirts and sweaters can go for under $3. At Trade, clothes sell for 20 to 40 percent of the retail price, meaning a brand new, tags-attached Banana Republic Dress—originally priced at $75— can be had at Trade for $34. And a brand-new-looking Nicole Miller dress, once priced at more than $400, recently sold for $60.

“Because we're paying up front, we take what we know will sell,” Van Camp says. “We definitely have to choose wisely.”

Those stringent guidelines, Van Camp says, translate to a better shopping experience.

“The goal is to make it really easy second-hand shopping,” she explains. “A lot of times when you go into a thrift store or a consignment shop you really have to dig. We’ve already done the digging for you.”

This Saturday from 10am to 6pm, Trade will be celebrating its two-month birthday with a buy one get one half-off sale on everything in the store.

1 comment

I love that there is such a thriving secondhand shopping culture here in Charlottesville! Especially since all of us are naturally offering different things. Trade is doing a great job providing an outlet for gently used high quality brand name items!

As the owner of another new secondhand shop in town I thought I would post a little note encouraging folks to try Trade (or one of the other consignment shops in Cville) first, and if they still have items to consign, to consider checking us out at ReThreads.

Great article!