Trendy and affordable clothes are hard to find in Kalamazoo.
Yes, you can make the short trip to Portage to browse their malls and Crossroads, but the options tend to be limited and expensive. With the meteoric rise of second-hand and vintage clothing over the past few years, finding something remarkable at the local Salvation Army or Plato’s closet has also proven to be quite difficult.
Kalamazoo Pickers aims to change that by offering vintage clothing for people of all shapes and sizes.
It all started with a leap of faith from two longtime friends. Aidan Robinson is a Kalamazoo Thoroughbred. Born, raised and currently residing in the area, Robinson has had a gift for collecting since he was young. He and his friends would hear the last school bell and head straight for the shops, looking for cheap gems to return to the internet.
“We started selling online and having too much fun with it,” said Robinson. “We thought we could turn it into a business, and we went for it. “
Robinson’s criminal partner is Noah Silvey, a collector for over 10 years. His passion for picking started as a hobby with the intention of standing out and looking fresh, collecting swimsuits and specialty items. Now more focused on preservation and accessibility, Silvey felt it was time to get his passion serious.
“I’ve always dreamed of opening a boutique someday,” said Silvey. I want to help be more sustainable by giving people access to reusable clothes and giving them another life.
Kalamazoo hosts events like Vintage in the Zoo and smaller-scale stores, but Robinson and Silvey felt the town was lacking a true showcase for Kalamazoo Pickers. Rather than operating strictly on social media like many vintage stores, Robinson and Silvey felt Kalamazoo was the perfect epicenter for an operation like theirs.
“Kalamazoo is a hub,” said Robinson. “It’s directly between Detroit and Chicago, the people of Grand Rapids come to our storefront and to Vintage in the Zoo events. I think Kalamazoo can be a leading city for vintage.
Another hole the two wanted to fill in the market was the lack of vintage options for men in the area. Kalamazoo Fashion House, Plato’s Closet, and Great Lakes Thrifting Co. are all great options, but more focused on women’s fashion. Silvey explained how they wanted to provide an environment where sex or gender didn’t matter in relation to clothing.
“There are great options for women all over town,” said Silvey. “We really felt there was a need for more options not just for the guys, but for everyone. Vintage is unisex. Anyone can wear what we are selling.