Funky threads for all your vintage desires

Julia Moreno

With rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing in town this week, it seemed appropriate that the Cynic would take a look at one of BurlingtonÕs own thrift stores that, until recently, existed above KenÕs Pizza.

But three years of building a reputation as one of the best vintage consignment shops in BurlingtonÑ thanks to a prime location on Church Street and the colorful personality of owner James De RosiaÑhave given the store the support and funds to expand to a newer and larger space.

ÒThe new space has an office, is much cleaner, has a better layout, and thereÕs not a huge increase in rent!Ó DeRosia said. ÒThe move is for all positive reasons and I think our customers will agree itÕs an upgrade.Ó

Despite the success of the store and its recent doubling of square footage, DeRosia explained that Downtown threads started with very little image in mind.

ÒWhen I first opened I had no idea whether my business would work or be profitable or fun or if people would like it,Ó he said.

After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in electrical engineering, DeRosia said that he never thought he would work in retailÑ at least initially.

ÒI was too well dressed and too much fun to work in engineering, so I quit,Ó DeRosia said.

After briefly working for his father, who owned Battery Street Jeans at the time, DeRosia decided to strike out on his own, compiling clothing from his motherÕs store in Rutland and from various suppliers he found online.

ÒI just had some used clothing racks and random vintage clothes without any cohesive vision of what the store would be like,Ó he said.

To DeRosiaÕs surprise, Downtown Threads does not receive a lot of consignment.

ÒInstead we actually buy a lot of our clothing from vintage wholesalers, who are surprisingly difficult to find,Ó he said.

Without Òlarge statistical databases like big corporations,Ó DeRosia said he makes decisions like any other small business owner and often relies on feedback from his staff and customers about inventory.

ÒI just talk to people who come in or who I work with and look at my customers and since IÕm a small business with relatively low volume I can react pretty quickly to the market,Ó he said.

This business model seems to have worked well for Downtown Threads, which has to compete with seveal other vintage stores in the area including Dirt Chic on Main Street and St. AnthonyÕs on Flynn Avenue.

Perhaps this has been, in part, thanks to the storeÕs location at 73 Church Street on top of KenÕs Pizza and the boutique Monelle.

ÒIt was perfect because the rent was reasonable, it was available immediately, and I could get a month-to-month lease,Ó he said. ÒIt was a place to conduct an experiment: Can I run a successful vintage clothing store?Ó

So far, the answer appears to be affirmative. But DeRosia said he isnÕt done experimenting yet.

With bright teal walls and lots of windows, Downtown ThreadsÕ new location above Tradewinds at 108 Church Street is about twice as big as the original store.

ÒThis time the question is, ÔWill Burlington support a vintage denim store?Õ WeÕll see,Ó DeRosia said.

He explained that while he initially wanted to close the storeÕs former location, he has a few inventory ideas that are more denim oriented.

ÒWe are planning to have a vintage denim store there where weÕll sell vintage jeans, denim jackets, vintage t-shirts, western shirts and flannels,Ó he said.

Though even with some creative ideas for the future, a layer of uncertainty remains.

ÒI wish I had some kind of cohesive business strategy that I could layout, but I donÕt. For now, IÕm just going to continue to roll as much money as I can into the store to improve the inventory for our customers,Ó he said.

His first priority, however, is to invest into the store with hopes to build customer loyalty.

ÒIÕd also like to offer new items online to capture some more customers from out of town and would love to increase the amount of consignment we take in while still remaining very selective about the items we accept,Ó DeRosia said.

Check out Downtown ThreadsÕ website at www.downtownthreads.net or its Facebook page for all your thrift store needs.