A first-year Western student launched a thrift store in downtown London in an attempt to bring affordable vintage clothing items to London’s fashion scene.
Ray Shil, a first-year economics student, opened Chaotic Closet in August, a brick-and-mortar store that also sells clothes online. The boutique sits near the intersection of Richmond Street and Dundas Street, featuring both vintage and modern second-hand clothes.
Chaotic Closet employs 10 staff members, mainly Western University students, according to Shil.
The thrift shop received 72 orders from Switzerland last month, which Shil sees as a milestone for his business. He offers free domestic shipping and has shipped out over 50 orders across Canada each month.
“I came to London [and] I saw people not dressing up much,” Shil said, who is a newcomer from New York to Canada and lived in Montreal before moving to London. “I asked a lot of people [and they] said fashion is expensive and we don’t have a good place to go.”
Shil said he shopped at vintage stores in Montreal and partly supplies his store in London with clothes from there. Part of his inspiration was providing fashion that is “as affordable as possible” while keeping up with Instagram trends, he said.
Shil said starting up his thrift store was not always smooth sailing, despite its newfound success.
Shil planned to launch his store in April 2021, but faced setbacks after Ontario unexpectedly declared a provincial lockdown. He paid the store’s rent for three months out of his own pocket, he said.
Shil also said he used his “own savings” to launch his thrift store, along with cash flows generated from other businesses, the names of which he said he cannot disclose.
“When you look for ways to serve people, things open up themselves,” Shil said.
Shil plans to launch a second thrift store in London’s Wortley Village, which is set to open in the next few months.