Thrift on the Ave: Redefining women’s fashion resale on Cass Avenue
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Amidst a steadily rejuvenating Cass Avenue in Midtown Detroit, Thrift on the Avenue has become a local hot spot for shoppers on the lookout for a fashion fix with a quaint boutique experience. More comfortable than a typical thrift store, this independently-owned shop specializes in quality resale dresses at an affordable price.
“We wanted a really good price point, but we wanted to provide a different experience from your typical thrift store,” says co-owner Tanisha Prater. “We wanted it to feel like a boutique, like if you were to go shopping in SoHo or Chelsea in New York.
“I think the customers have been very responsive to that,” she says. “The first thing that comes to mind when customers come in is they’ll say, ‘ooh, it doesn’t smell like a thrift store or resale shop. Everything is so nice.’”
Prater says shoppers aren’t immediately aware the store is resale shop. “That means we’re doing something right,” she says.
Thrift on the Avenue (4130 Cass Ave at Willis St.) made its debut on Noel Night 2013 for two weeks during the holiday shopping season. The shop officially opened Feb. 1, during the city’s harsh, record-breaking winter. Tanisha and Christopher Prater endured the slush piles and lethargic shopping environment until the break of warmer weather, when people strolling the streets began to come in and browse the full line of outfits, accessories and new men’s clothing.
“We don’t buy into the trends. When I buy, I don’t buy what’s technically current in fashion, I buy for what I like,” she says. “I think that’s one of the reasons we have a unique, diverse group of folks who shop here. Anybody can buy anything, you don’t have to be young, it’s not just for older people, anyone can come in and find something. We carry all sizes.”
Since Prater’s high school days at Cass Tech during the 1990s, the Cass Corridor area has changed dramatically, with new shops and area residents adding customer flow to the mix. Settled next to a Spanish tapas restaurant and within walking distance of other fashion stores, Thrift on the Avenue has benefitted from those shops referring customers directly to them.
Each month, the store hosts trunk shows and premiers from designers and artists, such as the Pearls and Lace vintage lingerie show July 11 at 7 p.m.
“When we found the space, we couldn’t believe how much the area has transitioned, how vibrant the area is now versus 20 years ago when I was going to high school down here,” Prater says. “It really is a collaboration going on over here, and I think that’s neat. It’s a team effort.”