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Kind Exchange teems with a trove of treasures

By: Rita Zekas

Kind Exchange, 1940 Queen St. E.

There are 10 other locations in the GTA.

Intimidation factor: Minimal. The space is bright and airy with pop music blaring; all they need is an open bar.

Number of salespeople on floor: One, who is dealing with a steady trickle of people bringing in clothing.

Response time: Immediate.
The staffer greets me from the back under a pile of merchandise. (See above.)

Vibe: Value Village meets early Kensington Market.

Price range: From $3 for a bracelet to $199 for a Lucky Brand tan suede bomber with intact original tag of $499.

Rating: Three Michael Kors tunics out of four.

I kept seeing women with bags urging “Be Kind.” They were from Kind Exchange, which offers cash or trade on the spot for clothing, shoes and accessories. If you donate them, a portion of the sale proceeds goes to charity.
My friend Claire checked out the Kind location on Yonge St., south of Wellesley (there are 11 in Toronto) and pronounced it “better than Winners.” She spent two hours and dropped $100, which is challenging considering the median prices are in the $20 range.
I do a drive-by there and it’s DIY, you need to hunt and peck. The sizing is random; small mixed in with large, although tending to the smallish. Claire must have picked up all the adult sizing.
I troll through the racks – there is everything from rompers and jumpsuits to fake-fur purses – and find the “Staff Picks” rack most promising. I pick out a ’40s style tweed jacket with a Holt Renfrew label priced at $33 but it’s too snug.
Next day, I cruise by my local in the Beach, open for four months. Right at the get-go, I fall hard for a pair of Converse leopard slip-on sneakers going for $25. Rats! They are a half size too small. Ditto a pair of brand new neon yellow suede booties at $19.
Now they’re really killing me with Kindness: a pair of fabulous Isabel Marant tribal-print jeans are $34 but they would only fit a hand puppet.
There are some higher-end labels like Ralph Lauren, BCBG, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein but mostly middle-of-the-roadies from Banana Republic and Jones New York to H&M and Forever 21.
A charming $35 yellow-print cocktail dress by Sandra Angelozzi screams instant party. Ditto a $45 white brocade vintage-looking frock by Marc Jacobs.
What’s this? A graphic print skirt by Max Mara, made in Italy for a mere $15. Seriously? Off to the dressing room to try it on. It’s waaaay too small. That’s what I get for wearing reading glasses while pawing through the racks. Things are not as big as they appear.
The air-conditioning is not working and the dressing room is a sweat box. I emerge dripping like a rain forest and scour the store seeking a mirror. Too bad I didn’t look on the outside of the dressing-room door. They need more accessible mirrors.
A woman is checking out pants. I suggest she try on the Isabel Marants because I want them to go to a good home.
Footnote: I give the Annex location (Bloor and Bathurst) a shot. It purportedly has the best men’s selection and the Beach store doesn’t carry menswear.
The menswear is cool, especially a pair of kick-butt cowboy boots. But for me, the standout is a D&G khaki sleeveless vest that’s a pinch too tight at the armholes. It has no price tag.
“It’s 50 bucks, already pretty cheap,” says the staffer.
Not if you can’t move your arms.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

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“Recycling is Sexy” by View the Vibe

View the Vibe interviewed Talia Schlanger on September 23, 2014: “..I’m really much more of a second-hand gal when it comes to clothing. I love vintage finds (especially for shoes and jackets) and can’t get enough of The Kind Exchange in Toronto for that purpose. Just like their name implies, they’re all about socially conscious consumerism, which is really important to me. They buy, sell, trade, and donate second-hand clothes. Some of my favourite items are from there, and it always feels good to support a local business that makes recycling sexy. I will always think recycling is sexy.”

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Lindsay’s Latest for September

Another month means more great Kind Exchange finds. Although this month has been unseasonably chilly, I absolutely refused to give up summer dresses. Thankfully, the Kind Exchange had plenty on hand to keep me satisfied.

My first find, is one of my favourites – A bright pink Cynthia Rowley dress with grey accents. This dress fits like a dream and can take me from a day at the office to dinner out on the town. It can also add a pop of colour when the weather is dull and dreary. I found this wonderful dress at the 379 Queen West store for only $15!! A find such as this is one of the reasons I love the Kind Exchange.

LindsaySept-17_1

 

The next find keeps the summer alive while you’re out on the town. This backless Wilfred black silk dress is a true classic with a twist. The front of the dress as well as the bottom holds true to a classic silhouette. When you turn around, the back the back of the dress provides the drama you need for a night out on the town. I found this dress at the Annex store for only $19.

 

LindsaySept-2

 

Lastly, I succumbed to the autumn weather and donned a pair of harem pants. This pair by Wilfred is superbly comfortable. The concept of a harem pants is one of my favourites this season. I found this pair at the 1185 Bloor Street West store for only $15. I also found the vegan leather jacket at this store for only $19. This jacket is a great layer to throw on when the autumn winds make just a t-shirt more than you can bear.

 

LindsaySept-12

Be sure to visit my blog (www.champagne-dreams.ca) for all my latest and be sure to visit the Kind Exchange this month to save big on summer fashions and pick up your new fall favourites.

Lindsay

xoxo

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We’re in the Top 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World

We’ve always thought it’s a cool neighborhood and now so does Vogue. Read why Vogue calls our locations on Queen St. one of the 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World.

http://www.vogue.com/slideshow/1080625/fifteen-coolest-street-style-neighborhoods/

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Lindsay’s Latest

What always amazes me about shopping at the Kind Exchange is that you’re able to find the hottest trends of the season – second hand and at a great price! So what are the hot trends this summer? Rompers, 90s throwbacks, and of course…it’s also wedding season!

This month, I was able to find a Guess romper at the Danforth location for only $15.The back detailing is gorgeous and it can easily be dressed down with some flat sandals or dressed up with some strappy high heels.

 

Lindsay-21

 

I was also able to find a Talula sundress with a 90s silhouette for only $19 at the Annex location. I paired the dress with a vintage leather bag from Queen West which was also $19 and my favourite geological ring ($6 from the Annex location).

 

Lindsay-11

 

And of course, wedding season is upon us. Why bother spending a bundle on a dress when you also have to pay to attend?! I found this Everlee dress at the Yonge and Eglinton location for only $12. To dress it up for a wedding, be sure to add a pair of strappy heels (from the Annex location $19) and you’re ready to dance the night away!

 

Lindsay-6

 

So if you’re on a budget and still want to keep up with the latest trends be sure to visit one of the MANY Kind Exchange stores across the city. The helpful staff are always eager to help you find the perfect item for any occasion and of course, make your day!

Lindsay

xoxo

 

 

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Meet Kind Exchange, Toronto’s Trendy Big Sister

Claudia McNeilly introduces the readers of the Toronto Standard to Kind Exchange.

 

 

If getting dressed conjures images of wails that drawl, “I have nothing to wear” amid a landfill of clothing, meet King Exchange. The store boasts ten locations in the greater Toronto area that all share the same goal: be kind to your wallet, environment, closet, self and community. And, for those who frequent the Kind Exchange clothing racks, the company has done just that.

Its strength can be attributed to the Ontario-born brand’s penchant to only sell used clothing. Where, unlike the high-end vintage stores and dizzying Goodwill’s of Toronto, Kind Exchanges feature well-maintained collections of gently worn, affordable clothes for men and women. However, reselling used clothing isn’t all the Toronto company holds itself accountable for. Included in its “Buy. Sell. Trade.” mantra is the option to donate: every Kind Exchange boasts the invitation to recycle and donate clothing to local charities.

 

 

Kind Exchange

 

 

This is, in part, what makes shopping at King Exchange feel like sipping a sweet cocktail of good intentions. Only instead of leaving with the guilt of an impending hangover, you leave with new clothes. But unlike other shopping experiences, where the end of a retail rush leaves you prickling with a heavy bag of clothes and an even heavier Visa bill, Kind Exchange eliminates the latter.

Most items in store range from $10 to $20, with exceptions for individual pieces depending on factors like brand name and whether or not you’re selling an original flapper dress from the 20s. Admittedly, with the haze of inviting prices in store, it can be hard to cut yourself off and remember that “no, you don’t need a hot pink leopard print mumu.” In case of emergencies such as this, a tip to the wise: bring clothes to swap for store credit on your next trip and watch yourself leave with a bag of free finds depending on how much you bring.

Of course, nothing is perfect and Kind Exchange won’t be taking the ratty 2003 leftovers in a bag at the bottom of your closet any time soon. They are, however, extremely open to contemporary everyday labels like H&M and Zara. This is nice for anyone who doesn’t have a closet full of vintage Givenchy but still wants to sell or trade his or her regular human pieces.

 

Kind Exchange

 

The idea of a consignment store balanced somewhere between high-end vintage and “fill a bag for $10” Goodwill (respect), is a foreign idea and can be confusing to understand. Despite the extremely familiar concept of vintage and secondhand, the notion of affordable boutique contemporary consignment is largely unheard of. This is why we spoke to Kind Exchange buyer Rebekah Hakkenberg to find out what the company looks for when it buys pieces to hang on its colourful racks:

“We don’t discriminate,” she says.

“We’ll take anything that we know could be an exciting find for somebody’s wardrobe. There are a lot of consignment stores out there, but not a lot of options if you want to get cash on the spot for something and not have to wait for it to sell,”

Hakkenberg goes on to add. “Plus, most people’s wardrobes are full of more mid-range gear rather than high-end things. There’s such a high turnover with the cycles of fashion now, and a lot of people want new clothes every season. But things that were from last season aren’t necessarily out of style yet; they’re not dated. So, we’re making everything more accessible.”

 

Kind Exchange

 

 

“We take a lot of fast fashion because a lot of it is still in great condition. What’s great is that, from the clothes we don’t buy, we offer to donate and recycle them to local charities so they don’t end up in landfills. I know people who will throw their clothes away in the garbage, which is insane.  Come down and sell your clothes to us instead!”

And, with nearly a dozen Kind Exchange locations in the greater Toronto area, recycling your clothing has never been easier. Now, when you’re getting dressed in the morning, passive aggressively mumbling about how you never have anything to wear and maybe if rent wasn’t a thing you could buy some new clothes, you can think of Kind Exchange. Really, it’s like unlimited access to the trendy big sister’s closet you never had.
____
Claudia McNeilly is Toronto Standard’s style writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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Ethical Option for Some Seriously Awesome Clothes!

Thanks Kaila Wilfert for telling the readers of Long Distance Neighbors all about us!

Living Ethically by Being a Better Neighbour

 

The Kind Exchange
As Adrienne mentioned, I’ve been dealing with some house issues recently. With all this rain Toronto has gotten, it appears my roof is leaking into my bedroom. On top of that, my best friend has recently gotten engaged and wedding planning has begun! However with all the life chaos there is still something that I think everyone should be very aware of this summer (shopping season) in Toronto, and that is an ethical option for some seriously awesome clothes!
The Kind Exchange


Used clothing is a great way to reduce your ecological foot print and get some extra mileage out of clothing that would otherwise be thrown away. When clothing often comes with such a high human cost, it only makes sense to use it for as long as possible.
In Toronto the most known (and biggest) options for used clothing are Value Village, Salvation Army and Goodwill. All of these have great potential and with much time and commitment you will inevitably find something you may like, or even love.
The Kind Exchange takes a bit of that endless searching out of your fashion adventure because nearly everything in the store is high-end and relatively new. They currently have 9 locations in the city and give a portion of their proceeds to The Canadian Cancer Society and The Partners MS Centre at Bringham & Women’s Hospital.

Buy & SellThe brands available at The Kind Exchange are not just whatever was left in whomever’s back closet. Here you can find everything from Alexander McQueen to Versace and everything in between.

Along with buying up all these goodies, you can also sell some of your own stuff. After the long winter you can take a look in your closet and see what you can get rid of; bring your items down to the store and they will give you cash on the spot for anything they take a fancy to. Be sure that you are bringing in quality and gently used items, as non-brandname or damaged clothing will be much less appealing for sale.

Trade & DonateAlong with the normal options to buy and sell clothing, The Kind Exchange gives you the option to trade in your old clothes for new ones. By trading in older clothes you double the value of the cash you would have received instead!

Finally you can also just donate old clothing. As a gift in kind you will be making some extra space in that closet of yours, and also feel good knowing that part the sale of your clothing will be going to a good cause.
You can see all their locations HERE and also them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get a heads up about what is in the stores, and also about great deals.

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Lindsay’s Recent Finds at KX

I am overjoyed to be able to spread the news and be a part of my absolute favourite place to shop!

I began shopping at Kind Exchange as a way to stay on the budget I had set for myself in order to pay back student loans. It has now become my go-to stop (AKA addiction) for the perfect find. With a growing number of stores and loads of designer finds, there’s something for everyone – and you’ll end up spending a lot less!! Plus, the wonderful staff will always help you source out items that suit your personal style.

What have I found recently? So glad you asked…

 

 Office

Exhibit A – The Office: This is the perfect everyday work outfit for the office! Designer, fashionable, and comfortable! All for about $70. Michael Kors black pants (found at the Yonge and Eglinton Store for $15), a Wilfred top (found at the Annex store for $12) and a Michael Kors cashmere sweater (also found in the Annex for $35). Oh, and did you notice the Coach purse? I picked it up at the Queen and Bathurst location for $35. Seriously – how can you go wrong!

 

 DateNight 2

Exhibit B – Date Night: A unique high-low dress paired with my jean jacket and flat sandals. I found this dress at the Yonge and Eglinton location in the middle of one of our killer snowstorms. I just knew that this steal (at $15) could be dressed up or down for a night out this summer. This is my favourite purse and honestly my favourite KX find to date. It was $19 at the Queen and Peter location, and is made from Brazilian leather. I love the gold detailing and I am constantly asked “where did you get that!”

 

 Casual 2           Casual 3

Exhibit C – Casual Saturday: Crop tops are the “must have” item this summer and a solid maxi is always in style. I can always count on KX to help me look stylish and be comfortable without breaking the bank. A grey Maxi (found at the Annex store for $19) paired with a crochet crop top (found at the Queen and Peter Store for $9) and Coach purse (also found at the Queen and Peter store for $25). I also find unique jewelry at the Annex store a lot. The wonderfully bohemian necklace and the ring were both $6 each.

These are just some of my fabulous finds for the summer. I’m sure there will be more to share!

I’d love to see what you’ve found – What are your favourite KX finds? Tweet and/or Instagram your favourite finds and tag @TheKindExhange and @ChampagneDream5 (Twitter) / @Champagne_dreams_to (Instagram). You can always read more on my blog too!

Happy hunting friends!

Lindsay
xoxo

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Poppin’ Tags

Thanks Morgan Cadenhead from

www.redlipsblueeyes.com for the blog love!

 

Poppin’ Tags at The Kind Exchange

June 26, 2014

I come from a line of women who’ve mastered the art of thrift shopping. My Mother in particular is truly impressive when she steps foot in a second-hand or antique shop. She often isn’t looking for anything in particular, but almost always leaves with something (usually much to my Father’s dismay). Sometimes it’s a piece of furniture for a DIY project, other times it’s been valuable artwork that’s been sold for chump change, and every now and then it’s a piece of brand-name clothing that can’t be passed up.

 

 

She makes thrift shopping sound and look easy, but don’t be fooled. It takes a certain kind of person who’s up for the challenge to tackle a Value Village – one who’s patient, willing to sift through a lot of junk to find buried treasure, and who knows a good deal when they see one. I for one am not as talented as my mother and grandmother, but I like to think I’ve been cutting my thrift-shopping teeth since I moved to Toronto with so many vintage shop options around beyond your standard Sally Ann or Goodwill.

My most recent thrifting discovery? The Kind Exchange. You’ve likely heard of it by now if you’re in Toronto, as locations are opening up quickly in popular neighbourhoods across town. It’s my newest guilty pleasure, since it’s a consignment shop that carefully curates its inventory and always seems to have a ton of fun stuff to comb through when you’re out and about with some free time to kill. They’ve got a strong presence on Twitter and Instagram, making it easy to see what’s new at their various locations (new items are snapped and hashtagged with which store you can find them at) and they even let you hold items you spot online by calling and confirming you’re planning to come by and grab them. I did it with these pair of like-new Dr. Martens and was beyond stoked to scoop them up for $59!

If you’ve got some clothes you’d like to get rid of, The Kind Exchange will be happy to check out what you’ve got and if they like anything you have, they’ll pay you cash right on the spot to buy it or will offer to put store credit on your account. My two cents? Go for the store credit – you get more cash value that way, and next time you’re perusing the racks and find the perfect vintage summer skirt, you’ll be glad you had the money on your account to scoop it up for a mere $9.00 (psst – that’s what happened to me with this gem).

So, whether you’re new to thrift shopping or a seasoned pro like my Mom, The Kind Exchange is a welcome new addition to the variety of second-hand stores in Toronto and a fun way to pass the time. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re wanting to hunt for some good deals!

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This used clothing store is taking over Toronto

Natalia Manzocco of blogTo‘s Fashion & Style page tells it like it is at Kind Exchange. We wholeheartedly agree!

 

FASHION & STYLE

This used clothing store is taking over Toronto

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / JUNE 8, 2014

 

kind exchange toronto

Here’s a riddle: What has opened 10 stores in Toronto within the last three years, has two locations within just a few blocks of each other on Queen St. West, and isn’t Starbucks?

It’s the Kind Exchange, a Toronto-grown chain of used clothing stores that’s rapidly taking root in neighbourhoods across the city. What began with a single store on Queen West has expanded from Roncesvalles to Yonge and Eglinton to the Beaches, with four new locations opening this spring alone. The next one – the chain’s 10th – will open its doors at 1185 Bloor St., near Dufferin, in two weeks.

For those who have never trawled through KX’s many, many racks: The chain is stocked entirely with used items chosen by the store’s staff from hauls brought in by customers. Items are generally priced to move. (If your items are chosen, you can opt for an on-the-spot cash payout – generally 20% of the selling price – or store credit, for 30%.) This differs from most consignment stores, which wait until your used items sell before giving you your share of the sale.

In terms of hunting intensity levels, it’s a far easier shopping experience than the thrift store, but requires considerably more digging than your artfully “curated” high-falutin’ new-and-vintage boutique. Some visits, you’ll go home empty-handed; other days, you’ll find your new favourite wardrobe item. Not everything will work for you, but all of the items the buyers select – which, though sometimes well-loved, are free of stains, rips and holes – are brought in with the knowledge someone, somewhere, will look absolutely smashing in it.

There’s also a charitable element to the store – a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. One of the store’s latest locations – Kind Exchange Cares, near Danforth and Woodbine – donates the profit from everything sold in the store.

kind exchange toronto

Founder Jeff Wexler, an Ontario native, spent over a decade working for U.S. consignment chainSecond Time Around (no relation to the store of the same name in Toronto). He struck out on his own in 2011, moving back to Toronto with his wife, Courtney, in tow, and set up shop at 611 Queen St. West. (He still lives above that first store.)

In the store’s early days, the buy-sell-trade business model was a tough sell. “You’re coming up with kind of a different retail concept,” Wexler said. “Like, ‘people have to bring their bags of clothes to you, and you’re going to go through them and then give me money for it?’

“That first year was really tough. Was really, really tough. But we really fought for it.”

The tide soon turned – thanks in large part, Wexler says, to the wonders of social media. The store poured time and resources into their online presence – after all, with new items flowing into the store every day, there’s no shortage of eye candy to Instagram. The chain’s staff remains engaged, styling mini-photo shoots and fielding questions about an item’s size, price and availability. (A common sight in the comments: “omg can you hold this for me????”)

kind exchange toronto

The store’s following (online and in real life) grew, and buyers – and sellers – began flocking in, with folks dragging their bags of closet castoffs to Queen West from all over town. Eventually, the lightbulb went off.

Now, Wexler says, “We are opening stores because our customers would tell us, ‘You gotta have a store on the Danforth. You gotta have a store on Bloor Street. You gotta come to the Annex. Oh, The Beaches — this is perfect for the Beaches.’ It’s the best way to grow.”

Most clothing boutiques, naturally, are content to let people come to them – their stock would be the same anywhere in town, and one location is often enough for a small business to manage. But if you’re cleaning out your closet, the convenience factor of having a consignment store just down the street where you can drop off your old threads is a powerful draw.

“Let’s not pretend Toronto is an easy city to drive around, OK? So if I have people coming from the Beaches down to Queen West to sell their clothing and be part of it, then I’m going to go to the Beaches.”

There’s another built-in bonus to rapid expansion that comes with the business model. “What it does allow me to do, is I can buy at my current stores for new stores,” Wexler says. “I might be able to buy 100 items at Bloor St. in the Annex for a new store in the Beaches. … They can sort of feed off each other, which is great.”

Kind Exchange Toronto

The Kind Exchange’s popularity isn’t the only indicator of Toronto’s current appetite for cheaper clothing (or, perhaps, a desire to spin closet items into cash during lean times in an already-expensive city). On the same stretch of Queen St. West as the original Kind Exchange, there’s Fashionably Yours,Consign Toronto, and the soon-to-open Garb – though the bulk of the city’s other consignment stores focus on name-brand and designer items (Common Sort is a notable exception to the rule).

“The high-end market is great – that’s its own world,” Wexler says. “I came from high-end designer consignment, and I think there’s a world for that, too, but I really want to be applicable to everybody.”

In the wake of its rapid expansion, the chain’s next moves include a revamped website that’ll include clearer directions to prospective sellers, so they know what each store is and isn’t accepting at the moment (thereby avoiding disappointment when you cart a bag of black pants to a store already brimming with extra pairs).

But even after all this growth, Wexler says, the company is far from done – in fact, he’s still looking for location suggestions. “Where would you want to have a Kind Exchange — from Vancouver to PEI?

“Send us an email. Tweet at us. Come say hi.”

Store photos by Erin Jones. Outfit photos via The Kind Exchange on Instagram.

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