On the surface, New York JOE Exchange seems like just another resale shop. However, when you dig a bit deeper, you will discover something new, something magic, something bohemian. Located along the Ichiban Gai Street in Kichijoji (arguably the most famous residential district in Tokyo), it is easy to find Joe Exchange’s patriotic red, white, and blue sign. At night, the blue neon sign flickers through Kichijoji, calling out to couples walking back to Kichijoji station after a nice, romantic stroll in Inokashira Park.
The store is modeled off of New York bohemian resale shops (or so says one of the employees), with a healthy mix of authentic American clothing, Japanese “American-styled” clothing, and regular Japanese clothing. The theme of the store (as evident from the logo) is “Recycle.” They take the typical recycling of Japanese resale or recycle shops one step further: by allowing trading.
Buying and Selling:
Most resale shops will give you 10% – 30% of the value of the item in cash. As a result, selling back your clothing, shoes, and accessories often doesn’t seem worth it. The New York Joe Exchange operates on a similar assumption. For instance, let’s say you bring in a red shirt. It’s a nice red shirt from a nice brand. Joe Exchange sees the shirt has only been worn a couple times, values it at 1,500yen, they give you 450yen, and sell the shirt for 900yen – 1,500yen. It’s a pretty good deal.
However, you can also trade your clothes in for a store equivalent. Remember when you brought that red shirt in from earlier? You can either accept 450yen (30% of its value) in cash or accept 900yen (60% of its value) in store credit. If you chose to trade the shirt in, you will get 900yen of store credit that can go towards any purchase. You could, for instance, buy a 700yen shirt (for free) or a 2,000yen sweatshirt (for only 1,100yen). The choice is yours.
The only downside to trading in arises from the fact store credit cannot be saved. Whatever you do not spend that day simply disappears. If you have 900yen of store credit and only buy a 700yen shirt, the other 200yen goes away. It’s kind of sad.
Tokyo and Japan have a reputation for the strange and unusual museums.
Nonetheless, New York Joe Exchange is a fun second-hand clothing shop with a vaguely vintage or hipster feel. The employees are fun to chat with (usually), and the shop is close to some great restaurants and free live performances in Kichijoji’s Inokashira Park. If you have a chance on the weekends, take a trip down to Inokashira’s Ichiban Gai Street and look for New York Joe Exchange. You won’t be disappointed.
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