When I first arrived in Richmond, I was a college student generally unfamiliar with the area. One of the first things I wanted to locate in the city was a fun new place to shop, where I could find clothes I wanted to wear at a price I could afford. When I stumbled onto Ashby during a walk through the heart of Carytown, I knew I was in luck. These days, it’s one of my regular spots, and I never come home empty-handed from a visit to this chic and trendy store.
Ashby is a locally owned retail store that sells a variety of gently used clothing and accessories. According to co-owner Lyn Page, what distinguishes Ashby from other retail stores in the area is that Ashby offers the RVA community “an easy and hassle-free way to recycle and make money on their unwanted clothes.” Their mission is to “create a fun and casual experience where people can feel good about buying and selling gently used clothes.” Ashby also offers support to the RVA artistic community by selling locally made jewelry and accessories.
Ashby has become one of my favorite places to visit in Richmond, and not just because of their marked-down prices on clothing. The decor in Ashby is just as chic as the clothes it sells. Vintage bicycles sit on shelves and old recycled signs and banners line the walls. A blue piano decorated with flower pots and little knick-knacks sits in the far right corner. However, what really stands out about this store is their Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub. This is exactly what it sounds like: a bathtub filled with ridiculously cheap clothing. Each pound of clothing gathered from the tub is only two dollars, so you can get a lot of great clothes for a pretty small amount of money.
What makes the Buy-By-The-Pound experience even more rewarding than the bargains is the fact that all of the profits from Buy-By-The-Pound sales are given to local RVA charities. “100% of the proceeds go to the local charity we select each month,” said Page. “Since 2015, we have donated more than $30,000 to 45 local nonprofits.” Non-profits Ashby has donated to include, but are not limited to: Change the World RVA, Health Brigade, Richmond Justice Initiative, and VA Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
Supporting the local non-profit community through the Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub program is one of the many ways Ashby shows dedication to their core values, which include “embody[ing] their culture, spirit, and dedication to sustainability and to supporting the RVA community.” It feels good to shop at Ashby, knowing that by doing so, you are contributing to the greater good of the community.
When I started going to Ashby, I didn’t pay much attention to the big tub by the entrance. Once Page explained its significance, though, I knew I had to dive in and see for myself what it was really all about. I brought a ten-dollar bill to go shopping with – which may not seem like much, but keep in mind that when you’re buying from the Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub, ten dollars can get you five pounds of clothing.
As I walked through the door, I was greeted with a warm smile by the woman working the register. I smiled back, then headed straight for the bathtub, where I was happy to learn that the charity of the month was Stop Child Abuse Now. The proceeds would go towards Greater Richmond SCAN’s Circle Preschool Program.
As I began my treasure hunt, I was amazed at the huge selection of clothing available in the bathtub. Dresses, T-shirts, skirts, blouses, blazers, jeans – everything you could think of was floating through the tub, just waiting to be picked out by an excited shopper. The possibilities were endless. Being spontaneous and picking out clothes that weren’t necessarily my style was what made the experience so fun. At one point, I held up a green satin skirt covered in white polka dots, knowing that I would not normally buy or wear such a thing. Nonetheless, I decided to buy it and test it out. Since each piece of clothing only cost a few cents, I couldn’t really go wrong buying something adventurous and out of my comfort zone.
Continuing my hunt for funky clothing and new styles, I found a Banana Republic sweater in great condition. It was a gray fleece turtleneck that was probably expensive when it was new. I loved it, and when I threw it on at home, I was definitely satisfied with my purchase. I also found a black and white knit blazer – talk about a steal! It was both fashionable and perfect for a future job interview. I picked out a vintage-looking t-shirt for famous rock and roll band The Who; it was a sweet grab. I also bought an orange cropped blouse, another sweater, and a pink halter top scattered with white flowers. Altogether, I bought seven items from the Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub. They weighed in at about three pounds, for a grand total of six dollars.
When I got home, I grabbed the two filled-to-the-brim brown paper bags and ran into the house to try on my new clothes in front of a long mirror. I decided to make the green satin skirt with white polka dots into a miniskirt by cutting it down about five inches. It’s completely different from any other piece of clothing that I own, but it has turned into something that I am genuinely excited to wear when the weather turns warm. I was pleased with everything I bought, and I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Ashby to rummage through the Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub.
The next time you pass through Richmond, make it a point to stop into Ashby in Carytown. You may find the perfect dress for a date night, an edgy outfit for a weekend concert, or even a new pair of locally made earrings. And when you do stop in, don’t forget to check out the Buy-By-The-Pound Bathtub. You will not only find some surprising bargains, you’ll be supporting the RVA community while you’re at it.
Photos by Logan Schweiger