Poppin' tags: Como thrift shop to open, will be only thrift store in the University district

On March 4, entrepreneurs Graham Barton and Genya Akselrod will be opening Thriftees, a vintage thrift and consignment store, on Como and 15th Avenues. Barton and Akselrod said they plan to price all their clothing and accessories for less than $20. (Photo by Jaak Jensen)

Any University of Minnesota students jamming to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and looking to hit the nearest vintage store are in luck.

University alumnus Genya Akselrod will be opening his student-oriented Thriftees on March 4 on Como Avenue.

Emma Shulfer, retail merchandising junior and store employee, said Thriftees will stand out from the standard thrift shop mold. Merchandise will rotate each week, and employees hand select what goes on the racks.

“I didn’t want it to be a secondhand store but like a boutique,” Akselrod said.

To cater to the student budget, Thriftees guarantees that any clothing or accessory item will cost less than 20 dollars.

The store will also sell vintage records, cameras, accessories and decorations.

Retail merchandising junior Zoe Quadflieg said she thinks students aren’t clamoring for a thrift store.

“I think it’s something students didn’t know they wanted,” she said. “But if they would visit, it’s something that they’ll come to love and frequent.”

The retail space holding Thriftees was another vintage store, Mix Fits Vintage, according to Arthur Bishop, general manager at nearby Japanese bistro Obento-Ya. Mix Fits went out of business a few months ago, he said.

Akselrod said he wasn’t concerned about the previous tenants’ experience. Mix Fits, he said, “wasn’t a legitimate business,” because the owners were rarely there.

Graham Barton Wakeman, another employee, said Thriftees will add needed retail to the district.

“There wasn’t really … a thrift store like us around the area,” he said. “So we thought it would be a nice little niche.”

It’s not easy for smaller retailers to thrive because their customer base isn’t enough to sell the large volume of clothing they receive from wholesalers, said Bruce Schwartau, a university extension community economics instructor.

“Wholesalers are making it very difficult to work with small stores,” he said.

On a college campus, he said, he expects success for a new vintage store.

“Thrift stores are going to do better in lower-income areas,” he said, “and students typically will fall into that.”

Akselrod said he’s already gotten positive feedback from people anxious for the store opening.

“We’re not even open yet, and every time we’re there and the lights are on, people come in,” he said.

Justin Krone, a barista at next-door Muddsuckers, said he will be at the store opening.

“It’s not like going to a thrift store where you normally have to search through everything they have,” he said. “The trendy stuff is already on the shelves. You don’t have to search too hard.”

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