Practices such as shopping secondhand, and repairing and repurposing items, not only saves money but also reduces waste. It’s even possible to learn a few new skills along the way. Here, we share some of the best ways to exercise conscious consumerism.
Buffalo Exchange, founded in Tucson, Arizona, by husband-and-wife Spencer and Kerstin Block in 1974, has been open in New Orleans since 2005. According to Aarian Frye, marketing coordinator for the company, Buffalo Exchange gives a second life to 5.5 million pieces of clothing annually.
“That’s a considerable amount of clothing kept in closets and out of the environment,” she says. “Anyone can bring in their closet clean-out anytime we’re open, and we’re always happy to take a look. We buy based on the style and condition of each piece, and, for items we’re able to buy, we offer 25 percent back in cash of our selling price or 50 percent in trade (a store credit that never expires and can be used at any Buffalo Exchange location). Unlike a consignment shop, you don’t have to wait for your items to sell at Buffalo Exchange—we pay out on the spot.”
Buffalo Exchange offers everything from clothes and shoes to accessories for adults and teens, so it’s also a great place to shop for secondhand items. “Our inventory is an eclectic blend of current styles, vintage pieces, classic closet staples, designer and totally one-of-a-kind clothing,” Frye says.
Additionally, Buffalo Exchange sends items that don’t sell to its outlet shops in Arizona and Texas, where it’s sold for a reduced price, or to charities. And on April 22, be sure to shop the company’s annual Earth Day $1 sale to benefit environmental nonprofits. 4119 Magazine St., 891-7443, buffaloexchange.com
Chateau Sew & Sew
Karen Flournoy and her mother, Susan Jackson, opened Chateau Sew & Sew in 2015 to share their love of sewing and crafting. “Sewing lets you express your creativity and improve dexterity,” Flournoy says. “Sewing encourages creative thinking and enhances knowledge, which can help with problem-solving. [It also] builds self-discipline and confidence—making an item from beginning to end gives a sense of accomplishment.”
In addition to selling fabric; patterns for children’s and adult clothing, bags and purses, and quilts; and notions (smaller objects and accessories that can be sewn or attached to a finished garment), Chateau Sew & Sew also offers classes to learn the basics of machine sewing as well as advanced techniques in one-on-one and group settings. Sewing machines are available for use, or customers can bring their own. The class schedule varies each month, and there are four teachers available.
“We all have different strengths and favorite areas that we enjoy and know more about,” Flournoy says. “We always let people know that we are not trained experts—we are not tailors or alteration gurus—but we can share what we love and what works for us. We can help you tackle and guide you through most any project.” 2103 Magazine St., 533-9221, chateausew.com
Kixx So Clean
Local shoe guru Micah Smith founded Kixx So Clean in 2019, offering tennis shoe cleaning and repairs either in-shop (located inside Big Sexy Neon on the second floor) or via mobile services. Expect keen attention to detail and expert repairs, such as heel tap replacements, sole repairs, polishing and leather work, plus purse cleaning and more. 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., kixxsoclean.com
Sew & Sews Alterations
Opened by Gail Nunez and Karen Gutierrez in 2003, and now owned by their sister, Sandra Gardache, Sew & Sews Alterations is a full-service tailoring shop. Average turnaround time is five to seven days, but Gardache also offers same-day service and next-day service for an additional fee. In addition to typical requests such as hemming pants or altering bridesmaid dresses, the company can fix or alter just about anything, including curtains. “We also sew on patches for military and law enforcement,” Gardache says. “We even repaired a boat canopy once. We are a woman-owned, family-run small business that takes customer service seriously. Come see us—we can make it fit, and we have the best prices in town.” 2201 Paris Road, Ste. D, Chalmette, 259-5370, sew-sews-alterations.business.site
ricRACK also has a Resale Shop, which features a variety of fabric, textile-arts-related supplies and clothing, shoes and accessories. “All of our clothing comes from film and television wardrobe departments,” Kelly says. “We have a wide variety, including everyday clothing, wild costumes, special vintage and designer labels.” 1927 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 218-5205, ricracknola.com
Micah McGrath Leathers
Micah McGrath, leather artisan and owner at Micah McGrath Leathers, offers handmade wallets, purses, clutches and accessories from top-quality leather. He also repairs leather items—anything from heirloom Louis Vuitton luggage to sentimental wallets. McGrath also can repurpose items that have seen better days. “I generally make all my products from new vegetable-tanned leather, but there’s no reason that old backpack with the missing strap can’t be turned into multiple smaller items,” he says. “I have a gorgeous pair of leather pants that were cut from a discarded couch.” 912 N. Peters St., 756-0650, micahmcgrath.com
NavyMWR Auto Skills Center
The NavyMWR Auto Skills Center is a complete auto workshop available to those with a military ID. The facility has equipment and tools (including metric) for routine car maintenance, such as oil change and lube; tire mounting; brake service; tire repair, rotation or balance; and replacing belts, hoses, CV axles and struts. The center also offers two motorcycle lifts and outdoor bays for extended jobs such as complete auto overhauls or restorations. There’s also a CD library with repair manuals, and trained Morale Welfare and Recreation personnel are available to assist as needed. Chambers Ave. & Rinard Road, Bldg. 42, Belle Chasse, 678-3448, navymwrneworleans.com
Grand Rental Station
Established in 2008 by brothers Wiggins and Richard Edrington, Grand Rental Station offers small- to mid-sized equipment and tool rentals for construction and home improvement projects, landscaping, parties and more. The company also offers affordable delivery and pick-up, equipment rental package specials, new and used equipment for sale, and small equipment repair. The large inventory includes everything from jacks and compressors to pressure washers and earthmoving equipment. 5612 Canal Blvd., 483-7713, grandrentalnola.com
Dashing Bicycles has been a fixture on the New Orleans bike scene since it opened as a community hub for riders and commuters in 2013. Previously located in the French Quarter (and then in the Seventh Ward), the bike shop moved to the Lower Garden District in 2021 and now offers even more bikes, accessories and workstations for repairs.
“Repairing your bicycle and its parts rather than replacing is a great way to save money as well as reduce your environmental footprint,” says co-owner, Rachel Eckenrode. “Although some parts will have to be replaced inevitably, routine maintenance is a great way to make sure the parts on your bike can be used safely for as long as possible.”
Dashing Bicycles offers a full range of repairs from simple adjustments and flat fixes to full tuneups and overhauls. Turnaround time ranges from same day to one day for simple repairs and from three to seven days for tuneups and advanced repairs. “In addition to typical bike repair services, we also offer more advanced repairs such as suspension repair and hydraulic brake bleeds,” Eckenrode says. “At Dashing, we aim to provide a welcoming space for all riders of all experience levels. We provide honest, fair and professional assessments of your bike and bike parts, and we are dedicated to getting you back on your bike as quickly as possible.”
The bike shop also helps riders gain more autonomy around bike repair and cycling through workshops and group rides. 1927 Sophie Wright Place, 264-3343, dashingnola.com
New Orleans Public Library
New Orleans Public Library isn’t just a great resource for books, documents and videos on how to repair items, but it also has a new e-resource called the ChiltonLibrary. “It provides drivers, enthusiasts and mechanics for all types of vehicles with intuitive access to repair, maintenance and service information,” says Director of Marketing and Communications, Jane LeGros. “It is continuously updated with step-by-step repair procedures, troubleshooting guides, diagnostic trouble codes, photos, illustrations, diagrams and multimedia (videos and animations) to simplify even the most complicated tasks.”
New Orleans Public Library also offers nontraditional collections. For example, the CleanUp NOLA Tool Library at East New Orleans Regional Library (designed to clean catch basins) offers tools available for checkout such as shovels, rakes, gloves and wheelbarrows. Meanwhile, the Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center allows two items to be checked out at one time from its Cake Pan Collection.
Another great resource is the tablet loaning program—intended for library patrons who do not otherwise have access to equipment or services sufficient to meet their educational needs—available at all New Orleans Public Library locations. “Our 500 Samsung A7 Lite tablets come with an unlimited data plan from T-Mobile,” LeGros says. “They can also be used as a mobile hotspot, serving as a Wi-Fi access point for up to 10 other devices. All tablets come preloaded with popular education and entertainment apps. The check-out period is six months.” Multiple locations, nolalibrary.org
The Curtain Exchange
For those looking to sell their used curtains, The Curtain Exchange accepts only top-of-the-line custom curtains for its consignment selections. As such, customers looking to buy secondhand curtains can be sure they will only find curtains—both contemporary and vintage options—that are fully inspected and in great shape. The knowledgeable staff also can help choose the correct type of curtain design for different types of windows. 3936 Magazine St., 897-2444, thecurtainexchange.com
WoolPro Rug Cleaning
WoolPro Rug Cleaning is a local, family-owned business that uses patented state-of-the-art equipment and non-toxic, environmentally safe supplies. In addition to rug cleaning (pet stain and odor removal, stain and moth protection, and mildew and mold treatment), the company also offers rug repair (for areas such as the fringe, the backing or the padding), rug restoration (restoring a piece to its original state) and pick-up services. 1515 S. Salcedo St., 249-3802, woolpro-rugcleaning.com