On January 2, Kelly Valentine opened a Denver location of Scout, her Omaha resale fashion shop, at 51 Broadway — an address with a checkered past.
She'd spent the last week of 2020 putting finishing touches on the store and smudging it with sage to get rid of the bad memories left by Buffalo Exchange, which shut down in the summer after co-owner Patrick Todd Colletti was accused by dozens of women of sexual assault, abuse and other misdeeds.
All Buffalo Exchange Colorado stores closed as the corporate office in Arizona cut ties with the state. Colletti's former co-owners, who had been running the location as FW since summer, are financial backers of Scout but have little to do with day-to-day operations, Valentine says.
Three former Buffalo Exchange employees have leadership roles at the new store and are aiding in the transition. That includes repricing the inventory and equipping employees with tips on talking about the accusations against Colletti and the closure of Buffalo Exchange, Valentine explains. (The District Attorney declined to press charges; Colletti has not commented on the accusations.)
Valentine says she wants to help the local resale-fashion scene heal from recent traumas. In thirteen years of running her Omaha shop, she has learned how to create strong boundaries between staff and employees — sometimes the hard way, she admits, so she thinks she has what it takes to run a professional operation and avoid the chaos that plagued Buffalo Exchange Colorado.
In the months since she announced her Broadway store, Valentine has been reviewing the Scout training manual with both Denver and Omaha staffers. She hired someone to oversee human resources and has set up an anonymous tip line, where employees can address any workplace concerns that might arise.
The shop has already hired nearly thirty people, and has plans to bring on more in the weeks to come.
"Look at how many jobs are being created, how many jobs that are available right now," Valentine says. "We’re not closed down because of COVID. ... This is a phoenix rising from the ashes. COVID did not only not shut Scout down, we’re thriving. We expanded. We’re going to hire new employees. ... We are hopeful sales are good enough that we can hire more people in January."
As she assesses the inventory in the 10,000-square-foot space, much of which comes from Buffalo Exchange and FW (credits from both stores will be honored), Valentine is looking forward to adding more high-end vintage fashion to the mix, but she's also excited to see what customers bring in. "We are keeping items out of landfills and interrupting the fast-fashion cycle," she says.
"All the sellers will have killer stuff," she adds. "There will be hundreds of new arrivals on the floor every day."
And customers will be able to share their finds with friends: Valentine has equipped the dressing rooms with smart mirrors designed so that customers can take perfect selfies. "It's so high-tech...really cool," she says.
She has other innovations in mind, too: On Valentine's Day, Valentine plans to launch the shop's first dollar sale, when items that weren't up to snuff for regular sales are sold for a dollar apiece. Whatever is left at the end of the day will be donated to charity.
If the event is a success, she plans to host it weekly, as she does at her Nebraska shop.
Concludes Valentine: "There is a lot going on that I feel really excited about, that we can do in Denver and in Omaha."
Scout is located at 51 Broadway; find more information on the Scout website or call 303-733-2968.
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