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Fun thrift shop opens latest branch in Astoria

Buffalo Exchange opened for business in the Ditmars section of Astoria Saturday. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

A trendy new consignment shop in the Ditmars section of Astoria drew a crowd before it even opened its doors this weekend.

About 35 people had been waiting for the shop, at 29-16 Ditmars Blvd., to officially open Saturday at 11 a.m., said store manager Rocco Paone.

“It’s probably one of the best openings Buffalo has ever had,” he said inside the 1920s storefront, which was formerly the home of a Hallmark location.

The company’s co-owner, Rebecca Block, said they had been hearing from customers that Buffalo Exchange, which has 48 locations across the nation, should open another site in New York and Astoria was the top recommendation from both shoppers and employees.

The first consignment location was founded in 1974 by her thrift-store addict mother, Kersten, and father, Spencer, in Tuscon, Ariz.

Her mother thought, “I wonder if people would want to get money for these things instead of just giving them away,” Block recalled.

In October, company leaders toured Queens neighborhoods, including Astoria, in search of the perfect spot and saw how bustling the outerborough community was. After choosing the storefront on Ditmars Boulevard, they discovered that the building’s original brickwork was underneath drywall inside.

“It’s always wonderful when you can find the architectural details in an old building and you can enhance them and make them show,” Block said.

On Sunday, racks of clothes lined the brick walls, as employees manned separate counters for customers buying and selling items.

“You bring in stuff. We go through it and whatever we take we price,” Paone explained.

Buffalo Exchange offers 30 percent off the selling price in cash or 50 percent in store credit. Their stock can range from Old Navy and Gap to Prada, Gucci and Miu Miu, but brand is not the only factor when deciding whether or not to take a piece.

“Of course, when that [high-end] stuff comes in here, it’s going to be very coveted,” Paone said.

The store will not buy every item, however. A wedding dress, which one woman asked about selling, was among clothing like lingerie and bathing suits without sales tags or liners that are not accepted.

Astoria resident Marco Lara, 50, brought several pairs of khakis and work pants to try to sell at the store Sunday, saying the option to get cash or trade in threads was helpful to people like him who has changed sizes recently. Some of his clothes he had never even worn, he said.

“It’s a good way to recycle, not to waste,” Lara said.

Reach managing editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.

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