On Washington Street, nestled between Pepe’s and The Shaman’s Den, lies one of Binghamton’s most magnificent gems, Stephen’s Vintage Clothing. Going to Stephen’s is an experience characterized by both the abundance of clothing and accessories, and Stephen himself. The moment you walk into the store it’s easy to lose the desire to search for something special because Stephen McGruder immediately consumes you into his world.
McGruder has been selling vintage clothing on Washington Street for nearly 10 years. Prior to opening his store, he had a multitude of jobs, such as writing about fashion for the Ithaca Journal, working as a fashion assistant for a designer and owning a vintage clothing store in his hometown of Ithaca.
As a child, McGruder was always interested in fashion. Despite growing up in upstate New York, he learned about style, fashion and trends through his siblings and The New York Times delivered to his home.
According to McGruder, clothing is considered to be vintage if it’s pre- 1970s, with the exception of high- end clothing
from the early ’70s to the early ’90s. “Most of my inventory is destiny,” he said. “I have things from the
1800s to the early 1980s.” His inventory is not limited
to sales for the average customer who enters his store. He also lends his clothing out to sororities and organizations, such as Chabad, which creates fashion shows to raise money for good causes.
“I also wholesale to high-end stores in Manhattan and do projects for big fashion houses,” McGruder said.
However, buying and selling vintage clothing is not McGruder’s only goal as a sales associate. He is extremely invested in building relationships with his customers. He prides himself on his excellent people skills and makes an effort to get to know every person who walks into his store.
“People come back here after eight years for reunions,” McGruder said. “I can pick out who will become a regular.”
Being a regular at Stephen’s comes with some benefits — he knows what looks good on you and will be able to keep you in mind. It will also quickly become a destination in which you can easily forget your troubles, which can be attributed to his jovial demeanor and the abundance of gems waiting to be found.