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Interview with THRIFT On The AVE Co-Owners

TOTA6 THRIFT on the AVE (TOTA) is a partnership between husband and wife Christopher and TaNisha Prater. This engaging couple combined their fashion perspectives to complete the look and vision of THRIFT on the AVE.

TOTA is a chic and sophisticated boutique stocked with upscale resale boutique items including covetable clothing, handbags, shoes and vintage jewelry. TOTA is a perfect fit for the Midtown neighborhood, Detroit’s unique destination for world-class art, music and cuisine. Unique shops and galleries as well as restaurants and entertainment options can be found in Midtown.

THRIFT on the AVE offers quality, name-brand, mid- and high-end women’s fashions in an assortment of sizes and styles. At THRIFT on the AVE, you’ll discover that you can dress your best in the most unique fashion without having to go out of the city to get it. TOTA is definitely a true gem in our own backyard. This store has a family-friendly vibe, not to mention the best customer service! Your wallet will appreciate a light indulgence in this adorable boutique.

Check our exclusive interview with co-owners Christopher and TaNisha Prater:

Q: Thrift on the Avenue is an interesting name. What’s the story behind it?

TaNisha: The original name was going to be THRIFT 7th AVE. Our name is defined by the experience we want our shoppers to have, which is nothing less than the experience you get at Saks Fifth Avenue. We were awarded a grant through REVOLVE Detroit that would have placed us as a pop-up shop on the historic Avenue of Fashion along 7 mile. When things fell apart with our pop-up shop, we found our current location, which is situated along Cass Avenue in Midtown. Call it a stroke of genius, prophetic or just plain ol’ good luck that the name morphed to THRIFT on the AVE!

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Q: Tell me a little about yourselves and what inspired you to open THRIFT on the AVE?

Chris: TaNisha and I have been married almost 18 years! We’ll celebrate our anniversary in July. We are both native Detroiters. I was born to a large family of 14. In my immediate family, there are seven girls and seven boys. While my father made a decent living at Ford Motor Company, money did not go too far when he had to spread it 16 different ways. Thrifting was a way of life in my family. TaNisha, on the other hand, is an only child and a third-generation retailer. TaNisha, not having sisters, was soon indoctrinated into this life – but trust me, she wasn’t reluctant. She joined them as a willing participant! They were dedicated not because of their financial situation, as they are doing well, but as a shared hobby.

Last December, they were invited to a really swanky and exclusive party, and of course, the boutique of choice was “The Salvation Army.” I was sitting on the sofa during their adventure, not really paying much attention, but mentioned that they should record their experience. Thus, the birth of their social media brand, Thrifty Broads! After gaining major success online, we soon realized that we were contributing a significant amount of money to organizations with limited control over the use of donated funds. This inspired the opening of our resale shop. We proudly are partnered with Dress for Success and the Coalition of Temporary Shelters (COTS). We feel comfortable with the funds that are purposed for the programs and are assured they are directly reaching their intended target.

Q: I am admittedly a very poor vintage shopper. I never seem to find anything that I like! Can you share some tips for a vintage shopping newbie?

TaNisha: There’s a significant difference between vintage, thrift and resale. A thrift store has a non-profit entity. A vintage store sells previously-owned garments, but they specialize in period pieces. TOTA is a mixture of all three. We source garments or purchase them from our customers and resell them. A very generous portion of our profits are donated to our various non-profit partners.

Items you need in order to have a successful hunt are the basic essential pieces of a wardrobe. A staple item such as a little black dress, a timeless classic, can be made boardroom-ready by adding a blazer and a leather pump. With a change of shoes, earrings and lipstick, you can be ready for a night on the town! Keep in mind that versatility is key. When hunting, look for supplemental pieces that can easily be interchangeable with your classic pieces.TOTA4

Q: What’s a piece of advice about style and building the perfect wardrobe for yourself that you’ve learned over the years?

Chris: As mentioned, keep in mind the importance of building upon basics. Classic pieces are timeless and don’t really reveal their true value. It’s important to get quality closet essentials. Be honest with yourself. Buy and wear clothing that fits you properly. Accentuate your favorite parts of your body and modestly conceal not-so-great areas. Your wardrobe shouldn’t reveal your age, but it should keep us guessing. As you mature, so should your fashion finds. Be timeless, be classic and more than anything, look tailored! Spend a portion of money saved on a resale item on tailor costs. A tailor will help add a custom-made fit and look to your outfit.

 Q: What are your favorite Detroit trends?

TaNisha: Detroit’s style is currently evolving and I love it! Everyone is recognizing they don’t have to follow cookie-cutter styles. It’s rather unique and a beautiful reflection of the revitalization occurring in the city. We’re going against the grain when it comes to fashion. Bold colors and bold styles are appearing on our streets. What makes TOTA unique is the pieces we have available for any style. Our pieces are classic, unique and can be absorbed into anyone’s personal style. As for the trend I’m enjoying right now? I’d have to say classic pieces in yellows, pinks, lavenders and pastels as spring styles.

Q: Where can readers find THRIFT on the AVE, and what are your hours?

TaNisha: We’re located on 4130 Cass Ave, Suite B, Detroit, MI 48201. We are open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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