It’s hard to find fashionable and affordable clothes in Kalamazoo.
Yes, you can make the short trip to Portage to browse their malls and Carrefour, but the options tend to be limited and expensive. With the boom in thrift stores and vintage clothing in recent years, finding anything noteworthy at the local Salvation Army or Plato’s Closet has also proven to be quite difficult.
Kalamazoo Pickers aims to change that, curating vintage clothing for people of all shapes and sizes.
It all started with a leap of faith from two longtime friends. Aidan Robinson is a thoroughbred from Kalamazoo. Born, raised and currently residing in the area, Robinson has had a knack for collecting since a young age. He and his friends would hear the last school bell ring and head straight for the stores, looking for cheap gems to browse the internet.
“We started selling online and having too much fun with it,” Robinson said. “We thought we could make a business out of it, and we took the plunge.”
Robinson’s partner in crime is Noah Silvey, a collector for over 10 years. His passion for picking started as a hobby with the intention of standing out and looking fresh, collecting jerseys and specialty items. Now more focused on preservation and accessibility, Silvey felt it was time his passion got serious.
“It’s always been my dream to one day open a boutique,” Silvey said. I want to help be more sustainable by giving people access to reusable clothing and giving items another life.
Kalamazoo hosts events such as Vintage in the Zoo and smaller-scale stores, but Robinson and Silvey felt the town lacked a true Kalamazoo Pickers showcase. Rather than operating strictly on social media like many vintage stores, Robinson and Silvey felt Kalamazoo was the perfect epicenter for an operation like theirs.
“Kalamazoo is a hub,” Robinson said. “It’s directly between Detroit and Chicago, people from Grand Rapids come to our showcase and Vintage in the Zoo events. I think Kalamazoo can be a leading city for vintage.
Another hole the two wanted to fill in the market was the lack of vintage options for local men. Kalamazoo Fashion House, Plato’s Closet, and Great Lakes Thrifting Co. are all great options, but are geared more towards women’s fashion. Silvey explained how they wanted to provide an environment where sex or gender didn’t matter over clothing.
“There are great options for women in the city,” Silvey said. “We really felt there was a need for more options not just for guys, but for everyone. Vintage is unisex. Anyone can wear what we sell.