A blog post for the budget fashionistas!

In my bio on ye olde blog, I mention that I am an ardent thrift shopper. I am often hard pressed to buy anything new. Really, it is very difficult for me to go to a store and buy new clothes, decor items, and kitchen accessories. Sometimes it is a necessity, but more often than not, I will hit thrift shops, consignment shops, and garage sales for the things I need. There is so much stuff already in this world, why not buy some second hand stuff and give it a new home?

I had the opportunity to talk with Peggy Tucker, the owner of Fashion Exchange in Plattsburgh. I love the Fashion Exchange and I have been shopping there since I was in high school. In fact, I was there a couple of weeks ago and I bought my new favorite sweater, a robin’s egg blue cardigan from the Gap.

Here’s what Peggy and I talked about:

How long has Fashion Exchange been open?
Fashion Exchange will be celebrating 19 years this June

Did you choose to open an consignment store because of your love of fashion?

I love having fun with fashion and I’ve always felt that shopping resale is the best way to do that. I have always enjoyed being a little creative with fashion to create an individual look. I remember when I was a college student finding a full karate suit at the Salvation Army and I LOVED that thing…. drawstring karate pants with a tank top was my go to outfit that summer.

Due to the economy’s downturn, do you find more people are buying second hand clothing, in an effort to save money?

I am seeing a lot of new faces and feel that people are becoming more open to the idea. I believe that consumers are taking pleasure in finding bargains rather than splurging in an era where, even for the well-off, ostentatious consumerism has come to be perceived as unattractive. It also helps that programs like the Today Show are featuring consignment shopping and how wise it is. I think that my shoppers are a very open minded group in general, for which I consider myself very lucky. Who wouldn’t want to work with open minded people all day?

I have been buying second hand clothing since I was a teenager, because I always loved to have a piece of clothing that was unique. Now, I find at I do second hand shopping for a different reason, because I am trying to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. What percentage of your shoppers are “green” minded folk?

I think a lot of our shoppers enjoy the fact that resale shopping is a more environmentally and socially conscious way of being a consumer. A few positive social and environmental aspects of consignment shopping: reusing clothing results in fewer incidents of child labor practices, less junk in land fills as a result from people just discarding their garments away, less shipping in moving clothing across seas to get to stores; therefore less CO2 emission,s and the aspect of recycling money back into local economy and locally owned business, instead of big corporate multinationals companies. Garments that do not sell in a designated time frame are donated to a local charity to be given to or sold at an affordable price to those in need.

Fashion Exchange has a frequent buyer card program, could you explain how that works?

Our Frequent Shopper Card is like a rewards program. The card has 20 boxes and the customer gets one box filled for every $10 spent at the store. When a card is complete, it can be redeemed for 15% off an entire purchase. It is a very popular program and many customers fill their cards very quickly. Some of my best customers redeem a card with nearly every purchase.

I was in the shop recently and I was blown away by the prom dress selection. Way back in the day, I wish I would have bought my prom dresses from Fashion Exchange! I imagine you get a lot of young women in the shop this time of year, to buy their dresses, correct?

We have had great success with the prom dresses. Some of these gowns are consigned, however about 80% of them are “nwt” (new with tags) as they are directly from a formal shop in Albany. I have had a connection with this shop for over 10 years and it works out wonderfully for local young women. These dresses retail for $200-500 and they can be purchased at Fashion Exchange for $49-$149. The consigned dresses also sell in the same range, but they have to be in pristine condition, as all of our consignments do, in order to be considered. As you know, the cost of prom night doesn’t stop with the dress. The girls want to have their hair and nails done, there is dinner and many will go in on a limo. If they can save a few $100 on the dress maybe they can afford to splurge elsewhere.

If someone is looking to sell clothes or accessories to Fashion Exchange, what is the process to do so?

We accept clothing and accessories by appointment. We look for things that either are brand new or look brand new, current styles, and high quality. By that I mean I look for the better mall brands up through designer fashion. What I’m after is high quality merchandise that I can pass on to my customers at really affordable prices.

What are the hours for Fashion Exchange?

Fashion Exchange is open every day: Monday 10-5, Tuesday through Friday 10-7. Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 12-5.

Fashion Exchange is located at Boynton Square 164 Boynton
Plattsburgh. Their phone number is 562-2302. You can find Fashion Exchange on the web by going to their website or by visiting their facebook page.

Let me know what goodies you pick up at Fashion Exchange. I would love to see them. Have a great day friends and keep cooking and thrifting!

Would you like some spinach artichoke dip?

For years, I have wanted to learn how to make spinach artichoke dip. I had some tasty spinach artichoke dip at a baby shower years ago and I craved it ever since. I have ordered it in restaurants, but they all seemed bland.

I have looked up various recipes over the years, but I was daunted, because a lot of the recipes involved mayonnaise, which is something I just loathe. Also, a lot the recipes didn’t seem to have the tangy zing I was searching for.

What is a Pug Veg to do when she wants spinach artichoke dip that will meet all her requirements? She creates her own recipe!

I have made this recipe three times in the past few months: two potlucks and one get-together with my lady-friends. It has been a hit every time. It is so easy to prepare and it tastes so good.

Here’s a photo of what was left the first time I made this dip:

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 and 1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (As always, I recommend you use Cabot cheeses if they are available to you.)
1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 cup sour cream (Again, use Cabot if it’s available)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
1 can of water packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
A splash of hot pepper sauce (can be omitted)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

I like to thaw and drain the spinach in the beginning of the preparation, because, it is the most time consuming part of the recipe, unless you are choosing to shred the cheese by hand, which is what I usually do. You can let the spinach thaw naturally or you can microwave it for a couple of minutes.

Next, mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the shredded monterey jack cheese.

Pour the dip into an oven safe container (I use one that is very similar to this one.) and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded montery jack cheese over the dip.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until the dip is warm and bubbly and the top is slightly brown.

I have served this with veggies, bread cubes, and woven wheat crackers. I think the woven wheat crackers (think Triscuits) work the best. I didn’t like it with the bread, because the bread was too soft to really scoop up the dip. If I decide to use bread again, I will toast the bread first, just to make dipping easier.

Oh, before I forget, coming up in the future, I will be featuring Fashion Exchange and Baxter’s Bagels on the blog. Two great local businesses that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Have a great day and keep cooking!