By Alyssa Smith, Staff Writer—
Collective Clothing, a thrift shop located on Frazier Avenue in downtown Chattanooga, offers a wide selection of vintage clothing and accessories, as well as a small selection of vinyl records and CDs.
This unique clothing store, originally located in St. Elmo when it opened in 2009, was created by Sondra and Travis Aten in an effort to expand their collection of vintage apparel.
Purchasing inexpensive used clothing was a necessity for the Atens growing up, but it quickly turned into a passion. They decided to open the store when they realized they did not have enough room in their home for the abundance of vintage clothing.
“We couldn’t stop collecting vintage and needed to open a store or else our house would eventually explode,” Sondra said.
Collective Clothing has participated in numerous creative projects and film productions. They even sold clothing to the award-winning Netflix series “Stranger Things,” among other shows and rental companies.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this vintage thrift store is now open with shorter hours and a smaller customer capacity for comfort. As a small business dealing with the pandemic, Aten has learned not to take anyone or anything for granted.
“We are so thankful to have the staff, customers, shopping opportunities, and moments we have each day,” said Aten. “We want to expand our abilities to help more people and to educate ourselves not only on trends and fashion, but in community engagement and service.”
Liz Sterchi, an employee at Collective Clothing, is also an avid vintage lover, and working at this thrift shop has moved her passion closer to an obsession.
“I love seeing all the crazy pieces we get in,” Sterchi said. “The 60’s and 70’s items are my weakness.”
Apart from collaborating with film production companies, Collective Clothing also contributes to the local art community in Chattanooga.
“We’ve been collaborating with a lot of local artists and photographers, allowing them to use our clothes for styled photo shoots, and the results are always so amazing,” Sterchi said. “We’re a part of a great local art community and seeing what other artists and stylists do with our clothes is so cool.”
The store is currently stocked with vintage denim and leather jackets for the upcoming fall weather. Their racks include flannels and worn-in jeans for the incoming cold.
“I would definitely encourage anyone that loves thrift shopping to explore Collective’s unique clothing and accessories,” University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student Elizabeth O’Guin said. “It’s always so fun to look at all of the weird and colorful things they have.”