LNF Shop co-owner Charlie Whitley has been filling the shelves of his Mile End store with unique vintage clothing for 10 years. He was inspired by the resale market in Los Angeles and felt there was a need for curated thrift stores in Montreal.
“You always find treasure. It’s the most fun thing, you know, when it’s pre-sourced like that and it’s ready for you. Chances are you’ll find treasure,” Whitley told Global News.
After a decade, business has never been better for a thrift store owner.
“September was our biggest month since opening.”
Whitley says his hop’s customer base is loyal, but lately he’s seen younger faces sifting through the shelves.
“The teens right now are huge supporters and have really rejuvenated the scene,” he said.
It turns out he’s not wrong, according to Anwar White of the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management.
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“This kind of vintage resurgence is something that has been important, especially over the past five years. But since we’ve had the pandemic, it’s actually grown tremendously,” White said.
According to White, with more people feeling bored at home, they began reselling old clothes. Young people who care about price value and the environment are driving the market.
“I would say about 80% of people are millennials and Generation Z,” White said.
Sandrine Menard, 20, and her friend, 21, Sandrine Trinh, told Global News they regularly shop at organized thrift stores.
“I generally like to come to vintage stores – it’s mostly for the environmental impact because it’s second-hand,” Menard said, adding that it’s also “cheaper” than shopping in big brands.
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LNF Shop is no longer in a separate category. Vintage dealers have been popping up all over town. The Marché Floh on rue Saint-Denis opened three years ago.
“There are 20 vendor stalls under one roof. So there’s a lot of variety and a lot of choice,” said Marché Floh owner Alex Mondry.
Mondry believes the growing popularity of vintage clothing is partly due to the unique sense of style and creativity that comes with it.
“All of our items are unique. So you know you won’t meet someone with the same outfit at a party like this,” she said.
Mondry and Whitley say that if younger generations continue to lead the industry, their businesses will grow and no one will show up to a party again wearing matching outfits.
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