Buying Boutique

Buying new, I expect to pay around 30-40 dollars for a pair of pants. Visiting the Mary Durham Boutique in Ithaca last week, I was able to spend only 7 dollars. Buying second-hand both eases my wallet and proves to be convenient thanks to the wide selection of thrift stores, boutiques, consignment shops, reuse centers, and antique shops in the Finger Lakes Region. I appreciate the experience of discovering unique finds and imagining the back story behind items at these places. Buying clothes at used stores is completely different than walking into a department store, trying on a pair of pants, realizing you need a different size, and simply going back to the racks to grab the same ones in a different size. Instead, it becomes a challenge to find specifically what you might be looking for, and even more exciting is happening upon something you weren’t looking for until you find it.

It could be easy to miss the Mary Durham Boutique on East Court Street in Ithaca. The outside facade looks to be a house, but paying more attention one recognizes clothing on display in the windows and the sign that announces it as a boutique. The boutique is divided by rooms and floors: on the bottom floor is a room with sweaters, pants and clearance items, a room with jackets, and a room with shoes, jewelry, and accessories. On the top floor is a room full of clearance items, and a room with shirts. The first time I visited, I didn’t have enough time to make it upstairs. When I went back, I was glad I did because I found a white, linen shirt that I had been hoping to find for awhile. The boutique is well-organized and diverse in selection. Although boutiques can tend on the more expensive size, I felt the pricing was more reasonable at this one. The boutique is run through The Women’s Opportunity Center, which “has helped over 15,000 women and men overcome obstacles and achieve success through employment and training services.” It is worth a visit! Visit for more information.

Story and Photo by Kathleen Malnati

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