GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new Grand Rapids retailer reimagining vintage, thrifted clothing is getting a brick-and-mortar boost from the city.
Wednesday morning, the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved a retail innovation grant for Second Vibess located at 13 S. Division Ave., just north of Weston Street SW. The $20,250 in funding will help cover 18 months of rent for the retailer which opened its brick-and-mortar location last month.
Second Vibess is a women and minority-owned business. Owners Camille Steverson and Kaitlynn Fitzpatrick purchase secondhand materials from thrift stores, garage sales and other sources and clean, repair and in some instances rework the pieces to create one-of-a-kind clothing.
“We love to take old things and give it a new life. And then we will place it up for sale and give it a new home,” Steverson explained.
Steverson and Fitzpatrick launched Second Vibess on Instagram in March 2019.
“And then COVID hit, so that kind of stopped our plans for a while because we couldn’t go thrift or do any of the things that we normally were doing for Second Vibess. But over that time, we decided we wanted to take Second Vibess more seriously and it kind of gave us more of an opportunity to focus on it as a career instead of just a side hustle in college,” Fitzpatrick told the DDA.
Last year Second Vibess expanded to selling on its own website and dozens of pop-up markets which helped build its customer base.
“We have had a great response from our customers,” Steverson said.
The owners say their “slow fashion” concept inspires individuality while reducing consumer waste.
“We love clothes, we love to go shopping, we love to buy things, but you can do it in a way more sustainable way and it doesn’t need to be from all these fast fashion places that are making a bunch of clothes and not paying their workers and it’s poor quality,” Steverson said.
While Second Vibess sells unisex, men’s and women’s clothing for all ages, Steverson and Fitzpatrick say their work typically appeals most to 17- to 28-year-olds.
“We definitely find that the younger generation I feel like really wants their businesses to be sustainable, to be ethical, they want to know where their clothing is coming from, they want to know where their products are coming from, what’s in them. So that definitely does give us an advantage,” Steverson said.
Second Vibess’ owners say their new space provides the room they need to sew their pieces on site while running the store. It’s also another avenue for advertising their work.
“Our retail store is giving us an extra platform that we never had before because we’re in such a busy spot new people are driving by and seeing our store every single day,” Fitzpatrick said.
The owners say they’re housing a couple of other small businesses and artists at the store. They hope to expand to host more budding businesses and events in the future.