Buyer Chrissy Giles explains Buffalo Exchange's purchase (or pass) policy on your resale fashion
As an assistant manager and buyer for Buffalo Exchange Chrissy Giles knows her fashion stuff. Giles has been an employee of the national chain's Buffalo Exchange outlet in Denver for more than four years, and when she isn't eying and buying items to fill the store's meticulously curated racks, she's scouring the mall, high-end boutiques and the Internet couture marketplace in search of the latest trends. Such attention to detail has proven to be Buffalo Exchange's greatest asset; its refreshing take on consignment keeps inventory circulating and regular customers coming back.
Chelsea Bashford Chrissy Giles
Giles recently spoke to Westword about how Buffalo Exchange picks its inventory from the hundreds of garments that come through the doors each day, assessing everything from fit and style to wear and tear.
Westword: Can you talk a little about your role at Buffalo Exchange and how you came to work at the store?
Chrissy Giles: I'm an assistant manager at Buffalo Exchange -- I supervise the buying as well as train and hire new employees, among other things a retail space requires. I used to live across the street from the the old Cap Hill location, and I shopped there every single day. I would find the best stuff if I went in a lot; it's something I learned is part of the mentality of our regular shoppers. I got to know some of the girls who worked in the store; it was weird, because I applied and interviewed and I didn't get the job. (Laughs.) Six months later, they called me and were like, "Hey, uh, do you still want to work here?"
I think anyone who works at Buffalo Exchange is sort of their own unique character; we're all very different people. Having fun is part of what we do every day -- it's written in our employee handbooks. We really work to engage the customer in that, too. It's not just the clothing we provide; it's also the emotional atmosphere of the store. Clothing's not so serious, and we don't want it to feel that way.
As a resale boutique, Buffalo Exchange's inventory is based on buying clothing from its customers directly. What is the buying process like on the store side? What are the specific things that you look for when people bring in their clothes to sell?
That's a big question. Anything that's going to sell for us is going to be a current style in good condition, and has to match our inventory's needs. So what we look for is a lot of mall labels that everyone loves: Gap, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Nordstrom. From that, we branch out into taking vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces that go along with the trends that are happening in the bigger fashion world.
When we buy, we look at a couple of factors: First, it has to be in good condition. We want the store to look nice. We don't want items that are too faded or too worn -- it can't have had much of a "life" before it comes to us. Then we look at the label -- a label is pretty important, because it factors into our pricing. Obviously, something that comes from Forever 21 is going to be priced much lower than, say, something from a boutique.
From there, we look at the overall style of the item. As employees, it is required that we shop, all of the time. We shop in malls, we shop at boutiques and we shop online. This gives us a good grasp on what's happening, and is how we are able to take things we think are going to sell. Beyond that, we look at the construction of the garment. Say the label fell off -- is this something that's made well? Is it going to keep up in the store? Are there holes in it? Those are the main things we look for.