I hate the Buffalo Exchange. Like, totally.

This is a public service announcement.
With guitar!
Know your rights – all three of them.

I live upstairs from a Buffalo Exchange. This has turned out to be the only shitty thing about my living situation for the last year, and I realize that all things considered, it is not that shitty. But I really, really, hate the Buffalo Exchange. I have no idea how a group of people who work at a thrift store, no… actually thrift store aside, I have no idea how a group of people in general could possibly be so up their own asses. Like, how do they even manage to maneuver through the rest of the world on a day-to-day basis?

When I first moved here, I didn’t give this establishment a whole lot of thought. Rabid infestation of hipsters aside, it was just another trite thrift store. And in fairness, I live in what could easily be called the West Coast center of the hispterpocalypse anyhow. [I only assume there are more of them in Brooklyn because it just seems like there would be based on the apparent genetics of Brooklynites who just look like hipsters no matter how they dress, talk, bike or choose bad beer.] Further, I think that the idea of reusing clothes is good on many levels of economics, the environment and general good karma.

But the Buffalo Exchange is different.

First of all, I brought tons of used clothes down there when I was going through all of my stuff last year. Each time I would patiently wait for the Hipster-on-Duty to slowly and disinterestedly go through the clothes of the one or two people in front of me (generally a half an hour or so) barely able to stifle their yawns and eyerolls, as they made two piles: one of things they would generously, but reluctantly – because you clearly have insanely poor taste in clothes – take from the person, and then a second, far larger pile of things that “just don’t fit in with the fashion sensibility” of the store. Are you fucking kidding me? Unlike a lot of people who go there, I was not looking to make a trade or money, I wanted to get rid of heaps of old clothes. As the Super-Cool-Probably-A-Writer/Slam Poet/Indie-film Maker-Desperately Seeking Susan Knock-off-Girl went through the pile I brought down, she concluded that really, none of the clothes were suitable for their store. I said that was fine, did they have a donation program where I could get rid of them and she yawned and said yes. I left, glad at least to be free of the clothes.

I brought a second load down a few days later, mostly just to be free of the excess again. There was a different person working who looked equally pained at the burden of their incredible coolness and the tragedy of having to deal with people so far below them in every way. As I sat and waited, I was surprised to see my old Adidas shell-toes on the rack in front of me. For Sale. I could not believe it, but was not in the mood to deal with it. After a 20 minute (or so) wait while the person in front of me deliberated about whether they wanted $10 cash or $20 store credit for their most worthy used items, I heaved another load up on the counter. Without more detail, I can just tell you it was the same thing as the time before. I said, “Okay. I will donate them then.” Sleepy-Bored-Annoyed-Guy responded by pointing to a large bin behind the counter. Unable to help my self I said, “So, uh, when I put things in that bin, do they really get donated?” He looked at me with complete confusion. I repeated the question more slowly. He said, “What do you mean?” Mystified, I began to repeat the question a third time, but instead (crafty teacher that I am) I decided to use an example. “See those shoes?” I pointed at the white Adidas. He looked. “I brought those in with a bunch of clothes two days ago that didn’t make the cut for the store so I donated them. But now you are selling them.”

“No we are not.”
“They are free?”
“No. Those shoes are for sale, but we did not take them from the donation bin.”
“Actually, you did, and I can identify them as mine if you like.”
“That is not possible.”

I showed him the identifying mark inside the shoe.

“Well, then we must have paid you for them.”
“No. You did not.”
“Well, I didn’t but someone must have.”

I shit you not, this was an actual conversation. I left the pile of clothes and went home.

My involvement with the Buffalo Exchange as any sort of viable commercial interest, or charitable opportunity ended that day. And everyday I see people waiting to trade in their things with pitiful expressions of hope as they try every possible way to impress these douchettes and douchebags at the counter only to be sent away, told that they are the pariahs of the fashion world, how could they even think that the Buffalo Exchange would want their disgusting attempts at cool clothes? I imagine the employees have a laugh over all these people as soon as they turn their backs, disguising it as their American Spirit induced hacking if anyone would dare to look back upon the Painfully Hip with their ridiculously unhip eyes.

My biggest [current] complaint about the Buffalo Exchange has had little to do with their stupid policies, or the so-obviously-intentionally-unintentional fashion sense they cultivate among their staff and patrons. It is that every one of their employees feels it necessary to sit on the stairs leading into my building absent-mindedly smoking their shitty cigarettes (and leaving all of their butts behind on the ground) every day. A week or so ago, as I was unlocking the door Tall-Skinny-Jean-Wearing-Blonde-Boufant-Coiffed-With-Plaid-Kid stood up, blew smoke in my face and stubbed out his butt leaving it on the ground while I watched him the entire time. When I asked if he was going to pick up his litter he looked at me with the same confusion I so often see on their faces. To be fair, he may really be that confused – I mean those pants have got to be messing up blood circulation to the brain, but still. Then two days ago I was leaving to go to the gym and Shorter-Guy-Who-Needs-To-Admit-His-Real-Size-To-Himself-But-Still-Wears-Skinny-Jeans-And-Undersized-Plaid-Shirts was reclining against the doorway actually preventing my exit. When I interrupted his hazy American Spirited reverie, he appeared extremely put out, if not downright insulted.

I swear to god I want to give all their fixie bikes gears and pull out their silly moustache hairs. Instead, I am just that lady who gets to call the store and kindly (mostly) request that the employees of this establishment please find somewhere else to smoke. Yeah. I am that lady.

So, in the interest of this PSA, let’s review:

Number 1: You have the right not to be killed by your fashion sense. Murder is a crime, unless it is done by a Hipsters sense of style.

Number 2: You have the right to clothes money, providing of course you don’t mind a little humiliation, investigation. Which, clearly, you do not.

Number 3: You have the right to free speech, as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it. [This guy is so embarrassing, he wrote this to LATFH.com.]

I don’t really care what people want to dress like and I appreciate the variety that is evident at every turn in San Francisco. But I do feel that I should be able to be uneffected by the nonsense. I would like to see these Brooklyn Hipster traps around here.

Though, I suppose we all have rights….

And it has been suggested in some quarters
That this is not enough!
Well – –
Get off the streets!
Get off the streets!!

No, really. Get. Off. The. Streets.


My apologies to The Clash for the bastardization and association of their song to hipster insanity.
All of these amazing images come from the hilarious website Look At This Fucking Hipster dot com.

About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in Absurd Shit, California, Perception, San Francisco, true stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to I hate the Buffalo Exchange. Like, totally.

  1. Debby Waggoner says:

    You nailed it. I hate the B.E. attitude, too. And unlike you, I needed to sell some clothes to them last year and they only took 1 item, a smart cowl-neck black angora sweater – for $8. Sheesh. Here’s some music to accompany your rant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnUFVyt1dHQ

  2. Debby Waggoner says:

    Actually, this version is “better” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN8pWdZhVaM&feature=related

  3. BuffInformant says:

    To begin, I want to tell you that I found your piece delightfully entertaining, relatable, and, well, just funny!

    I used to work at a Buffalo Exchange some time ago, but believe me, I have a good sense of humor about the perception of the company (emphasis on “perception”). As in any retail establishment, used or otherwise, there are the bad seeds. You know them as the catty, the disinterested, the self-righteous perhaps. Some establishments are filled with them, others only have one. Regardless of their population within any Buffalo Exchange, I cannot apologize for them. The way these people act is unattractive (both as a human and a customer), and their attitude is unfounded, seeing as how they work at a used clothing store (this isn’t Chanel).

    Having said that, however, I would like to educate you a little on the process at Buffalo Exchange. Consider this an insider’s look, maybe a little more info that you may or may not want to accept.

    Simply put, buyers at Buffalo Exchange are hired to select clothing that sells well for the store. This means any style, any size, any color (with exception to those prints or “phrase tees” that are generally inappropriate or offensive). If the store is seeing a lot of dark-wash jeans sell in size 10, believe me, they will start buying more of them, as long as they continue to come across the “buy counter”. To put this into perspective for you, when you approach that counter, you are entering a business transaction. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Having had a lot experience at this buy counter, I know that selling your clothes is not easy on many levels. For one, many people are emotionally attached to their clothing. Something special may have happened in this outfit, or there is always the weight-loss customer: the larger sizes that they cling to so as not to lose themselves along with their weight. In addition to this, and perhaps more importantly, there is the MONEY factor. American consumers spend copious amounts of money on new clothing every year. Seeing this investment handled and tossed aside can be hard to watch on this level.
    But I shall repeat, as some used clothing mantra that I hope you listen to: this is a business transaction. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Think of it this way: if buyers were only picking out clothing that they thought were “cute” or attuned to their own particular style, Buffalo Exchange would be out of business. In fact, I’m not even sure if you could call that a business, for lack of a structured business model. But alas, this is certainly NOT the case. A business that has lasted 35 years must have a method to their madness, no?

    Buyers are expected to maintain a positive attitude at the counter, engaging and educating customers about what is going on in the store, what is selling well, and what is not. Unfortunately, the 8-hour shift has its toll on the attention span of 20-something on a barely-above-minimum wage, and there is also just the “bad seeds” I spoke of before. If this were the food business, you’d scoff about it and move on. But this is not the case…

    The case is that you have dedicated time and space on your blog to express your distaste for the company.
    The reason for this is that you have had bad experiences at Buffalo Exchange, which I empathize. We have all experienced this at some establishment: mistreatment, the “I’m not cool enough” complex. I personally have learned to let that insecurity go, because I’ve been on the other side of things. I have watched customers walk in with a look that transparently means they feel they are being judged. I have responded to this look with compassion and positivity, and with the thought that they have no idea that I am SO NOT judging them (who has the time for that in such a busy environment anyway).
    The other reason you have dedicated so much to this posting is because you were offended the buyer didn’t take any of your clothes. You were emotional, and you were not looking at it as a business transaction. You were thinking, “Those judgemental assholes didn’t take any of my stuff!” You were clearly not remembering that these employees are responsible for a business that has to RESELL this clothing to someone else.

    The complaint that Buffalo Exchange doesn’t give enough money is ridiculous, in my opinion. In the mission statement for the entire company, there is an explicit section devoted to AFFORDABILITY. The company’s founders (who still run it, btw) have fought to maintain the integrity of an environment in which various styles in the fashion world can be obtained at an affordable price, despite the inherent allure of increasing prices for more profit. This is surely one of the most respectable aspects of the company. How is clothing able to sell for such an affordable rate? The answer is that it is BOUGHT at a relatively low price, anywhere between 5% and 30% of the garment’s original retail value. When I worked for the company, it was all I could do to keep myself from telling customers that income cannot be made off used clothing. You cannot expect $15 from a t-shirt from H&M in the used clothing business. As with automobiles, the value of most garments is slashed in half the moment it is out of the retail store. This means buyers at Buffalo Exchange need to price using an appropriate, well-worked formula (which occurs informally within the buyer’s head or amongst several buyers).
    Here’s the way customers should think about this: if you’re getting rid of clothes anyway, see if you can make a buck off of it. DON’T expect large bills. It is not within Buffalo Exchange’s business model and you will never be satisfied.

    Reevaluate your experience at Buffalo. Did you walk into the store with some assumptions or pre-conceived opinions about it? Were you viewing your selling experience as a business transaction? I am well aware that bloggers are bloggers, and haters are haters, and there is not much I can do about it. I stumbled upon this posting and felt the need to lay down some insight and information, which I expect you shall not think twice about. I am ALSO well aware that many, many people share your opinion, and it is my belief that if more customers were informed and educated about the process, they would understand that it is an objective, NOT subjective experience from the buyer’s perspective.

    Last, but not least, I can assure you no Buffalo Exchange employee cares enough about you to gab about you in the back room of the store. They have better things to do.

  4. Amanda says:

    Ummm… thanks for the education? I am not sure you actually read the post, but it is getting a ton of traffic so I think your information will be very helpful to people who are interested in using the Buffalo Exchange.

    However, I would like to clarify a couple of things, just because that is how I am.

    First, as I clearly said, I was not looking to make any money at all. In fact, I just took my clothes there because I was hoping that they would be able to take them off my hands by whatever means necessary. So, while I appreciate that “The other reason you have dedicated so much to this posting is because you were offended the buyer didn’t take any of your clothes. You were emotional, and you were not looking at it as a business transaction” may apply to others, it does not for me. As I said, I was glad to not have to take the clothes anywhere else.

    Regarding your statement that I suffer “the “I’m not cool enough” complex” – I dunno… I choose to live in an area replete with hispters. It is not a question of a coolness hierarchy (I am far too old for that), they are just easy to tease.

    Lastly, you say that “The case is that you have dedicated time and space on your blog to express your distaste for the company.” This is true. But did you read why? This is why THIS store and THEIR employees make me insane:

    “My biggest [current] complaint about the Buffalo Exchange has had little to do with their stupid policies, or the so-obviously-intentionally-unintentional fashion sense they cultivate among their staff and patrons. It is that every one of their employees feels it necessary to sit on the stairs leading into my building absent-mindedly smoking their shitty cigarettes (and leaving all of their butts behind on the ground) every day.”

    Though, frankly, the whole thing was more of an exercise in humor and bad fashion photos.

  5. Debby Waggoner says:

    Gosh. Now all I can think of is …. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vziUC1IT0wo

  6. CJ says:

    If you wanted them donated, really, you could have and should have taken them to a charity shop. This is a business after all.

    • Amanda says:

      Yes, that is true.

      If you had read the post you would know that I live upstairs from this business and that I was taking down heaps of clothes, so it was a convenience thing.

      If you had read the post you would also know that I was interested in the process of the business more than anything else, I was certainly not looking for $ or “store credit”.

      If you had read the post you would also know that none of that silliness is really behind my true beef, (the disgusting cigarettes) but that the people who work there are just so laughable in general.

      I sense however that you missed the point of the post because you could be one of the people in the post.

  7. CA says:


    I think I about died laughing from your post, because it’s so true. No one makes you feel more shitty about your style than a Buffalo Exchange worker. Anyways, I wanted to point out something people missed in her post that upset her. Some hipster douchette told her a specific item of hers was not going to be purchased from Buffalo Exchange. She put them in the donation area led to believe it didn’t have any resell value from this establishment. Upon her return to the store, she found said item for sell. Regardless if this were a “business transaction,” she was screwed on her end and that would leave at best a sour taste in my mouth for BE.

  8. Krisfromcolorado says:

    I absolutely loved this, I stumbled upon it because I was curious of why B.E. prices seem to have been on the rise for the last year. I used to shop at B.E. very often because I could find good quality clothes at a great price, although the last few trips to the Denver location left me questioning if I should ever return. I’m a 20 year old male, 21 at midnight, from a small mountain town where people still live on the bridge between the city and a cabin in the woods. Although there are some very wealthy people who live in my community there are also still real legitimate cowboys and bull riders… With that being said I thought I would share something that had happened to me the other day that left me rather pissed off. I feel like this is the appropriate place to rant considering we share a dislike for the hipster scene. So this is how it happened, I was hanging out with a friend when we out of the blue got called “hipsters.”
    Random Girl: “You’re quite the hipsters aren’t you?”
    Us: “And what makes you say that?”
    Random Girl: “You’re wearing a flannel and torn up old beanie…”
    WTF? It’s frequent for temperatures to drop to well below zero where I live and I’ve been wearing flannels since I could fit into my dads… The last thing I considered it was “hip,” in fact I used to wear them to school and was one of the few. What I did think of a flannel although was that it was the right thing to wear when chopping firewood or hunting etc… Anyway not really sure what to say but that comment definitely caught me off guard and dragged me into a stereotype I don’t want to be an affiliate with, I hope this trend of flannels dies off fast because I would hate to start seeing them wear a pair of shit kicking boots and carhartts.
    P.S. Have mercy, I know my grammar isn’t the best, and if I’m ever in San Francisco I’ll make sure those kids know what they should do with their cigarette butts

  9. Christina says:

    Hipsters getting butt hurt in the comments! HA-HA-HA!!

  10. April Skramstad says:

    Haha.lmao,I think this is the most realist review I’ve ever read.thank you for making my day….Seattle Wa.

  11. Stacey K. says:

    You so eloquently expressed e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I feel about this place and the young turds who work there. So all I have to add is…
    (insert musical notes here) Buffalo shit … dot com !!!…(insert musical notes here)

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