Vintage Shops Struggle to Meet High Demand for Ugly Christmas Sweaters

By Meredith Hoffman on December 24, 2012 9:49am 

WILLIAMSBURG — Calling all carrot-nosed snowmen, sequin snowflakes, giraffes, candy canes and fluorescent trees — Brooklyn's trendy vintage stores need you more than ever.

The season of "ugly Christmas sweater" parties means gaudy, festive outerwear is in high demand — and second-hand shops like Williamsburg's Buffalo Exchange and Beacon's Closet are doing all they can to keep the holiday apparel in stock.

"We buy them all year long," said Buffalo Exchange employee Jem Ross of the sweaters, listed as the "hot item" on the store's chalkboard. "And we usually sell out the first few days we put them out at the beginning of December."

Buffalo Exchange, a national chain with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, has seen such high demand for the over-the-top apparel that the company even ordered new manufactured sweaters this season, Ross noted.

"It's something different we can offer," she said, explaining that just 80 percent of the shop's merchandise is used and that "people always love" the Christmas sweaters.

Apparel that qualifies as the "novelty item," which Ross said sells for $5 — eight in her shop, can be Christmas-themed or even without seasonal tones, she said.

"Some are so poorly made, but handmade by a grandma...they're so low rent that it's funny, like made with scraps from around the house," she explained. "Or we've had sweaters with giraffes all over them with sequins."

Staff at Beacon's Closet also said the item was booming with popularity in their shop. And Buffalo Exchange's blog even instructs desperate revelers to make their own ugly Christmas sweaters in case of emergencies. 

And it informs readers:

"Remember, you can never have too much tinsel!" 

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