Abby Carey (left) and Audra Oestmann pose for a portrait inside Treasure Threads on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the corner of 26th and Randolph streets, a modest tan building houses a business and community space by the name of Treasure Threads. The owner, Abby Carey, opened the vintage clothing store in July 2019, only a couple months after graduating from Lincoln Southeast High School.

After selling clothes through Depop and social media sites like Instagram, she decided to turn her passion for thrifting and sustainable clothing into a vintage clothing store. She still relies on Instagram as a major part of advertising and sales for her business. She said she enjoys using her creativity to showcase the value of second hand clothing.

“I just thought that opening [Treasure Threads] up could show people that used clothes are just as good,” Carey said. “We also want to start making clothes out of old fabric and all kinds of things. We’re very into recycling.”

Along with selling used clothing, Carey said she hopes to discover more ways to repurpose clothing and other thrifted items. Carey has already employed this tactic with Treasure Threads’ reusable bags, which are crafted from old t-shirts. 

According to Carey, recycling and sustainability are huge motivations for Treasure Threads. She said reselling used clothing combats fast fashion brands which produce lots of new clothing, using up resources that could otherwise be saved. Aside from the environmental effects of their production, these brands also often outsource their manufacturing to other countries where unsafe and unfair working conditions are common. 

“They say there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but it’s really important to do your best,” Carey said. “The environmental part [of fast fashion] is important, but I’m also concerned with the people that work in the factories … a lot of times factory owners don’t have enough money to keep workers safe and keep up to date with health codes.”

H&M and Forever 21 are examples of companies that Carey said she considers fast fashion. In her opinion, they produce an unnecessary amount of clothing which they can sell for low prices due to cheap and dangerous labor. Treasure Threads provides an alternative to buying from these companies, and Carey said she hopes people can build a closet they love from their selection of vintage threads.

Along with the clothing in the store, there is also a variety of handmade furniture and decor. While most of it is not for sale, the furniture gives the space a much different feel compared to conventional clothing shops. 

The entryway to the store is known to Carey and her friends as the Grandma Room, due to its floral couch and grandma-esque aesthetics.

“[The room] eases you into the rest of the store,” Carey said. “I want to create a comforting atmosphere.”

The combination of Carey’s passion for thrifting and help from her friends and family has led to Treasure Threads’ wealth of decor. Audra Oestmann, Carey’s close friend, has been heavily involved with the creative parts of the business.

“Audra helps more with the creative side of things: painting, photos, ideas, setting up the store with me,” Carey said. 

The two often use business hours to make crafts and decorations for the store. Their commitment to constantly changing the look of the building creates an ever-evolving space. 

“We’re always trying to change things around so it looks new when people come in again,” Carey said. 

One of the newest additions to the store is a pair of hand-painted denim jackets, which were made by local artist Dana Clements.

“Abby asked if I wanted to sell some jackets there because she wants to get more local artists involved,” Clements said. “It’s really exciting to be part of the emerging arts scene in Lincoln and it’s awesome when local creators and business owners can support each other.”

Carey said she likes the idea of allowing artists like Clements to sell their art and products in the store for no charge.

“I’m totally willing to give local artists a spot to showcase their stuff,” Carey said. “I want other young people who do creative things to have an outlet.”

Treasure Threads is not only a place to buy vintage clothes, but also to display community creativity. Carey said she hopes to continue expanding the utilization of the store — one idea she has in the works is an event where people can bring in old clothes and use materials, like paint and thread, to alter and repurpose them.

Carey said she has lots of other ideas for the future, all of which embody her passion for fashion, sustainability and supporting local art and creativity. While all these ideas require a lot of time and energy to execute, Carey’s inclination and passion for her work makes it enjoyable.

“I’m doing stuff that I love to do,” Carey said. “Especially when Audra’s here, it doesn’t feel like work.”