The intimidatingly trendy Buffalo Exchange will pay you for your old clothes, but only if your garments are “freshly laundered” and meet the store’s high bar for unique, fashionable styles.

Inside Buffalo Exchange, Chelsea
Inside Buffalo Exchange, Chelsea

For my trip to the Chelsea location, I brought, as tributes, a gray chamois shirt from J. McLaughlin and a 10-year-old waxed jacket from the discontinued Martin+Osa.  I’d never tried to sell clothes at a clothing exchange before, so my only expectations for the experience came from that time in Broad City Abbi and Ilana made a lot of money at Beacon’s Closet. It was frustrating, then, for me to arrive at Buffalo Exchange at 2:51pm on a Monday and find more than twenty people in front of me waiting to have their clothes appraised.

Offering 1: An Old Shirt
Offering 2: An Old Jacket
My hopeful Buffalo Exchange donations, stuffed in a bag.
My hopeful Buffalo Exchange donations, stuffed in a bag.

As people continued to line up behind me, I looked with dread at the two men ahead of me with three giant IKEA bags overflowing with clothes. I was still five people away from being able to sit down in the waiting area’s chairs.

While waiting, I found a pink baseball cap with plush wings coming out of it ($8), inspired by the Manga series Dr. Slump. Like the many other flamboyant pieces in the shop, it got me thinking maybe I could actually pull that off, before reason took over.

Manga-inspired hat I would not be able to pull off
Manga-inspired hat I would not be able to pull off ($8)

At 3:10, after almost 20 minutes of standing, I was channeled into an express line for people with ten items or fewer. At that point, my confidence in my offerings had dissolved. I’d seen a man wearing a button down shirt patterned with Arnold Schwarzenegger magazine photos. Multiple people wearing those wide-legged cropped pants. These people, the Buffalo Exchange target, would not wear my plain gray shirt and boxy brown jacket.

The “buyer” who appraised my clothes had a golden pendant dangling from her septum. I cringed at the pitying look she gave the jacket and shirt as she held them up. The Exchange was looking for summer styles, so both items were “a little heavy for right now.” She courteously added, “You could bring them back in the fall,” but did not make me feel optimistic I  would stand a chance, even then.

I stuffed the rejected clothes back into the bag, and toted them around as I explored the store. It’s a good thing I’m a Medium with a 32-inch waist, because that’s what the vast majority of the men’s goods were. The racks held everything from Mr. Turk to Old Navy. They had brands I’d never heard of and clothes with no brand labels at all. I found a polyester costume police shirt, ($12), a sweater with a lumberjack Santa on it ($14), and wingtip Cole Haan oxfords that the previous owner had painted green ($42).

Perfect for your next lumberjack-themed christmas party ($14)
Perfect for your next lumberjack-themed christmas party ($14)
Hand-painted green shoes, for the large-footed ($42)
Hand-painted green shoes, for the large-footed ($42)

I tried on a pink short-sleeve button down shirt from Juicy Couture ($18). Other than the strange phrase printed on the inside of the collar (“Most Likely To Bogart”), it seemed like it could work well. Then I unbuttoned it and found a huge red griffin printed on the inside. I tried it on and discovered the blackletter “Hollywood 1971” printed on the back.

This appears to be a normal pink shirt ($18)
This appears to be a normal pink shirt ($18)
A griffin, on the inside of the shirt
A griffin, on the inside of the shirt
I do not want this on my back.

It was too much look for me. I put the shirt back on the rack and schlepped my unwanted clothes outside, feeling a little less confident in my ability to dress myself, but eager to come back and work on my wardrobe. There are more gems at the Buffalo Exchange than at the typical New York thrift shop, there’s just the issue of whether you’re stylish enough to pull them off.

I spent about an hour in the store. When I left, the men with the IKEA bags—the ones I’d been standing behind—were sitting down, still waiting for their shot to sell their castoffs.

Outside Buffalo Exchange, Chelsea
Outside Buffalo Exchange, Chelsea