Thrifters on the hunt for finds deserving second life

 In Business

Alex Newton and Jakob Brooks’ mutual love of thrifting, antiquing and yard-saleing has resulted in the launch of Mill Street Vintage.

The newly opened vintage store in Creemore is stocked with unique finds hand-picked by Newton and Brooks, who spend a couple days each week looking for good quality gently used items that have the added character of having lived a past life.

“We thought this would do well in Creemore,” said Newton. “We thought this was something that the town needed.”

Their customers agree, having had a warm reception since opening a few weeks ago. A lot of youth have been frequenting the store, attracted by the selection and affordable prices.

They source their stock from many different places but often when the store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, Brooks and Newton travel to to warehouses in Toronto or Montreal where they sort through bales upon bales of clothing that is destined to be cut up for rags, insulation and other commercial uses.

“It does take time but you can find stuff that deserves a second life,” said Newton, noting that some of the clothing still has its original tags and others have a worn-in look and feel.

And they like the prospect of keeping as much out of the landfill as possible.

Unfortunately, says Newton, a large percentage of unsold new clothing ends up in landfill sites. About 85 per cent of textiles discarded in the United States are burned or end up in landfills, including unused textiles and unsold clothes. In Canada, about a billion pounds of clothing and other fabric items are thrown out each year.

“We believe the solution to stopping all of these clothes and textiles ending up in the landfill is for us as consumers to buy less stuff and say no to fast fashion companies,” said Newton. “Whatever item of clothing you are looking for is probably available at your local thrift store so always look there first.”

The memorabilia and other decor at the store is from Newton’s personal collection and, although not for sale, sets a nostalgic tone for browsing through racks filled with vintage brand name jeans, flannel shirts, jean jackets, blouses and blazers, skirts, vests, graphic Ts, shoes and bags. A shelf displays a selection of housewares and dishes.

Newton first came to Creemore to take a job at The Keep Refillery, and fell in love with the community. Brooks, who grew up locally, also works as a plumber so he constructed all of the clothing racks out of piping and made other improvements to the retail space.

They strive to carry items that appeal to a wide range of shoppers and at various price points.

The store has a change room in the back and a $5 bargain bin that is replenished regularly.

Mill Street Vintage is located at 151 Mill St., and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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