A Former Buffalo Exchange Employee Spills the TEA!
If you've ever taken your items to be sold at Buffalo Exchange, only to be rejected, you know how frustrating it can be. If you've then taken the same items BACK to be reevaluated by a different team member, and them all be accepted with no problems, then you know just how downright maddening this is.
I'm a former Buffalo Exchange employee, and let me be the first to say that everything you've ever thought about Buffalo Exchange is absolutely, 100 percent true. I worked there for about two years, pretty much all of 2016 and all of 2017. I'm here to spill all the tea on this popular "Buy, Sell, Trade" shop.
The number one complaint I use to hear from customers was the lack of consistency throughout the entire buying/selling process. The first noticeable inconsistency? The fact that your success in selling clothing at Buffalo Exchange ABSOLUTELY depends on who is behind the buy counter.
Buffalo Exchange adamantly denies this claim. They actually teach their employees and buyers to insist that "all of our buyers are trained equally". This could not be further from the truth, and I'll explain why.
Buffalo Exchange was founded in the 1970's. The internet didn't exist, so realistically there wasn't too much for buyers to learn. This same business model hasn't been updated in FIFTY YEARS. Nowadays a new fashion brand pops up every day. Not to mention every buyer has their own individual sense of personal style. It's completely unrealistic to expect every buyer to be familiar with every brand, and yet that is what Buffalo Exchange is CONSTANTLY telling their customers/sellers.
Here's the thing: Buffalo's managers and supervisors ARE well versed in buying as well as how to train new buyers. But the basis of the Buffalo Exchange business model is deeply flawed. Why? Because it's literally impossible for every employee to know every single fashion brand out there. There are literally millions of brands, so employee knowledge is bound to fall through the cracks sometimes. The amount of times I've taken items in, had them rejected, only to bring them back the very next day and have them all accepted by a different buyer is insane.
Building upon this issue, another common complaint is that buyers don't place enough value on brands that they're unaware of or unfamiliar with. A perfect example of this is a time I went into my local BuffEx and picked up a handbag. When I first grabbed it off of their purse tree, I could tell it was well made and of high quality simply based off of the fabric and hardware. I glanced inside and my heart skipped a beat...it was an ETRO bag. (If you're unfamiliar, think high end European designer bags....like, that retail for well over $1200.)
Guess how much this thing was priced for. Just take a guess. I'll tell you - $14. Yes, you read that right. FOURTEEN DOLLARS. The way I snatched that thing up SO QUICK. It wasn't fake either, because I took it to a consignment shop in Santa Barbara that actually knew what they were doing, and they priced it for $600. I got $140 in cash for it. Buffalo easily could have charged that, if the employee who took that bag in was allowed to admit that they were unfamiliar!
Most people don't know this, but Buffalo won't allow their employees to Google brands or items on the spot. They also don't want their employees to tell sellers when they're unfamiliar with a certain brand. Instead of allowing employees the opportunity to learn from customers, BuffEx employees are essentially told to lie. Instead of admitting their unfamiliarity with a brand, they tell the seller that they passed on their items due to the "condition", or something along those lines.
When I was an employee, we weren't allowed to look up brands during a buy. We were told that if we needed that kind of help, then maybe we shouldn't be a buyer yet. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?! Like I've stated many times in this blog post already, there is no realistic way to expect all buyers to be familiar with all brands, especially since the company puts a heavy emphasis on all their employees having their own individual sense of style. Why would I expect the streetwear guy to be up to date on new items on Revolve.com?
I have a few suggestions for Kirsten and Rebecca Block, who are the founders (if they ever come across this blog post). Here they are:
1- Allow your employees to look up brands during a buy. There is seriously no harm in doing this! It doesn't change the fact that the seller can choose to not sell an item if they feel the price is too low. All this would do is prevent future embarrassment when someone like me walks in and sees an Etro bag priced for $14.
2- Allow buyers to float! If there are multiple buyers are available, and a seller comes in that has mostly vintage items, and there is a buyer that is very knowledgeable of vintage clothing, ask them to be the buyer!
3- Allow sellers to choose their buyers ahead of time. A radical concept, but if this was the case, it would allow buyers to earn a commission as well! For example, if I trust a specific buyer at a certain location (they take most of my items, and price them fairly), I can request that buyer ahead of time when I make an appointment online. If that buyer earns a certain rapport with sellers, Buffalo should compensate them with every seller request they get!
I truly believe Buffalo Exchange's business model needs to be updated. These days, there are a million other resale sites that potential sellers could go to - Grailed, DePop, Poshmark, you name it. As an employee, I knew that the ideal seller would be someone who only brought in items that were current, aesthetically pleasing, and in great condition. And yet by not updating their practices, they're attracting sellers who bring in trash bags full of wrinkled clothes from seasons past, and filling their racks with mediocrity.