Demand is high for vintage Bills gear

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Win or lose, Bills fans love to show off their team pride, and Bills merchandise has been flying off the shelves at the Bills store in Orchard Park heading into the holidays.

But local vintage stores have also seen quite the business boom, too.

“The entire holiday season it’s been crazy for Bills stuff,” said Kai Mikolajczak, co-owner of Queen City Vintage. “Once they clinched, our sales have gone up tremendously.”

The staff at Queen City Vintage is doing their best to keep the vintage gems in stock.

Saturday morning, our News 4 crew saw a lot of options, from a 1999 Doug Flutie jersey to a ’93 starter jacket with tags to the shirt Bruce Smith would have worn if the Bills won the Super Bowl. The ’93 AFC Champions gear, from the last season the Bills went to the Super Bowl, is especially popular.

But, when those items are sold, it’s not like Queen City Vintage can call up a supplier to get a replacement in.

They have to find the treasures themselves, and over the last few years, Bills fans have been increasingly reluctant to part ways with their glory years gear.

“We get it through garage sales, thrifting, online, but the Bills have such a culture across the world right now that it’s getting tough to find. So when we can get it in, it just moves really quick,” Mikolajczak said.

That’s why it pays to shop around.

If you’re looking for something specific, you may need to stop by several vintage stores to find it.

That’s part of the fun of shopping for throwback gear.

“You can spend a lot of time here. There’s a lot of different items to go through,” said the owner of My Cuzin Vintage, Derrek Hoffman.

Hoffman says customers keep coming back for more and leaving with unique finds.

And, as a bonus, going old-school gives new life to items that may have ended up in the landfill if the secondary market wasn’t so hot.

A lot of customers enjoy the sustainability of vintage shopping.

“We do buy-sell-trade, too,” Hoffman said, “so people bring things in and it’s a little community of buying, selling, trading. People going to thrift stores, we go to thrift stores, collecting things, too.”

Even going green, though, you’ll need to hand over some green to get the rarest vintage items.

Hoffman pointed out a chalk line jacket for sale that is priced at $200. But, customers are willing to pay for the perfect prized possession.

“Sometimes you can’t price anything out,” Hoffman pointed out. “You might not ever see it again.”

If you are in the market for vintage gear, it’s worth noting the correct terminology. The crew at My Cuzin Vintage pointed out ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ are not terms that can be used interchangeably.

‘Retro’ refers to items that are made today to look like older things. ‘Vintage’ refers to items that actually are older. We’re told ‘throwback’ is appropriate to use for both vintage and retro items.

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