Buffalo Exchange store manager spreads the passion for fashion

Buffalo Exchange store manager Aimee Pallozzi says she has always had a passion for fashion.  Ever since she was little, she and her siblings would dress up their dolls in different outfits and put on pretend fashion shows for relatives, creating their own runway.

She said, “I always wanted to be a movie star. I would play dress up.” Pallozzi, 28, has worked for Buffalo Exchange for six years at five different stores.

Pallozzi said among her brothers and sisters, she has always had the most creative outlook and started picking out clothes and dressing herself at a very young age. Pallozzi attended Fashion Careers College in California and majored in fashion design.

Pallozi’s mother, Jill Pallozi, said, “Aimee wanted to be an actress from a very young age and loved to watch glamorous black and white movies. She would play dress up with her sister Cara and brother Eric and would do fashion shows with their dolls and Barbie’s.”

Pallozzi’s younger sister, Cara Pallozzi, said she has always admired Aimee’s sense of style. “Aimee always had me playing dress up with her when we were little and was definitely in charge of all outfit choices — especially when we put on shows for our relatives! She would always be both the director and the lead actress or model,” she said, laughing. “We always had fun, though. She definitely had a love for clothing and such good taste.”

Pallozzi, a bubbly, friendly woman, was sporting a mixture of vintage and new, stylish clothing during a recent interview. She frequently jotted notes to herself on a hanging white board in her well-organized, yet cluttered, office in the store’s Wicker Park branch.

She said Buffalo Exchange is unique among thrift stores. Because Buffalo Exchange buys clothes from the public instead of having people bring items in and donate them, Buffalo Exchange does all the hard work for shoppers.

“We hand select pieces that are in good condition, current in style, desirable items, for a wide range of people, and we price them accordingly on what we think they would sell in the store,” she explained.

Pallozzi said that since she works at a thrift store she often doesn’t shop in thrifts because she tires of having to dig through items. But if she does, she has one thing on her mind: “I have a huge vintage collection. I scour for vintage all the time, and I collect vintage houseware and things. If I go to a thrift store, that’s what I’m looking for.”

She added that buying things second hand and saving money is “really the way to go.”

Since the beginning of the economic recession, Pallozzi has seen more customers at Buffalo Exchange, she said. She added that people are being smarter about their money.

She noted that more people are also selling their clothes to the store. “[People] are finding new avenues like us to earn some money,” said Pallozzi.

According to Michelle Livingston, Buffalo Exchange’s marketing director, annual revenue from all stores increased from $56.3 million in 2008 to $60.4 in 2009.

Pallozi also said she enjoys working for a company that shares her values. “I definitely feel passionate about doing our part as individuals to make the earth a better, cleaner and more efficient place,” she said. “I love that I work for a green company and that I share the same values.”

She added that stores like Buffalo Exchange help the environment by reducing textile waste that ends up in landfills.