Located on College Street in Downtown Burlington, Battery Street Jeans is one of the most popular thrift stores in Chittenden county. With local art lining the walls, and everything from VCR tapes to rain jackets to vintage earrings inside, the store is unique.
The consignment shop was founded in 1991 by James Ivan Derosa. The shop’s original location was on Pine St. in the South End of Burlington.
“It’s kind of an anything shop,” present owner Stewart Sporko said. “The only things we don’t sell are mattresses, children’s clothes, suits.”
Sporko’s acceptance of almost anything onto the shelves creates a discombobulated but comforting feel. At the entrance to the shop is a treasure chest full of belts. Various jewelry stands and colorful stones sit on top of clothing racks. The atmosphere is paired with electro-pop theme music for customers to groove to as they shop.
“It’s like a flea market threw up in here,” Sporko said, laughing.
However, unlike a flea market, Battery Street Jeans is well-known for its high-quality goods and the variety of clothing on its shelves.
“It’s actually surprising how good the quality of clothing is in Vermont,” Sporko said. “There’s a lot of people with good vintage.”
Battery Street Jeans features brands like IZOD, L.L. Bean, North Face, and various locally-produced clothing. Teenagers agree that the selection is great.
“It’s a cool store,” Ella Larsen, a BHS sophomore, said. “They have really unique things there.”
In addition to the store’s goods, Battery Street Jeans presents an alternative way to shop.
“It’s accessible, which is nice,” Lulu Guy, senior, said. “It’s easy; it’s close.”
Clothing in Burlington can be expensive, especially when trying to shop downtown. In the wake of recent closings of department stores like Macy’s, thrift shops are some of the last affordable options in town.
“I’m glad people have a cheaper place to buy their necessities,” Sporko said. “There are four seasons of clothing in New England. We have a dollar room downstairs, and we always have a free pile outside.”
Sporko noted that the atmosphere plays a role in the singular feel of the shop. From the art to the clothes, the store is cool.
“The uncensoredness, the gender blurring, we’re nonconforming in that nature,” Sporko said.
The art in the shop also sets Battery Street Jeans apart. The consignment shop sells art and doubles as a gallery. Sporko features new artists frequently.
“We also sell a lot of local art,” Sporko said. “We definitely give just about anyone a shot. There’s a lot of art that is very unique and personal; not necessarily contemporary.”
Sporko has worked at Battery Street Jeans since 2014. It was in 2016 that he purchased the consignment shop from the previous owner, Catherine Macguire.
“It’s a lot of work, honestly,” Sporko said. “The shop does well, but it might not seem worth it to some people.”
Sporko admits that running a business – especially a consignment shop – is difficult and demanding, but worth it in the long run.
“The big challenge for us is keeping up with the demand,” Sporko said. “This means people who want to shop as well as people who want to drop stuff off. The racks have to be somewhat browsable, which means constantly curating and making it just the best stuff.”
Despite the complications and hard work, this traffic is both good for the store and the environment.
“Thrifting is really important, just because we have a lot of clothes already in the world, and the fashion industry makes a big impact on climate change,” Guy said. “Recycling those clothes is a good way to bring that down.”
Check out Battery Street Jeans at 115 College Street in Burlington, Vermont.