The Ruiz family, who own Luxe Swap in Oyster Bay, have opened a luxury thrift shop, Encore Une Fois. NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp

A new thrift shop in Oyster Bay that caters to teens and beyond — Gen Z and Alphas among them — has appointed a 14-year-old as the director of style.

The new digs, called Encore Une Fois (it means “once again” in French), which opened in December, is the second store in town owned by Matthew Ruiz, 46, and his wife, Natascha, 49. The director of style happens to be their daughter, Madeleine, a freshman at Oyster Bay High School. It is a far cry from the couple’s first enterprise, LuxeSwap, a high-end consignment boutique open since 2016 selling pre-worn, top-tier labels such as Chanel, Prada, Hermes and Versace.

While those items can sell for thousands of dollars, at Encore the average price point ranges from $15 to $24, according to Ruiz. “It’s geared to a specific demographic — someone in high school who doesn’t have an open account on a black Amex card and can leave with a great T-shirt for $5 instead of going to the mall,” he says.

Thrifting for the Long Island teen 

Jeffry Herrera, 17, and Karina Mejia, 14, browse the shelves at Encore Une Fois, a teen-focused thrift shop in Oyster Bay, Jan. 5.  Credit: Howard Simmons

The idea for the shop came to Ruiz during the pandemic. “We noticed that during the pandemic people were wearing less snobby clothing and it was selling online at auction,” he says.

The Ruiz trio does all the deep dive thrifting for their customers in advance, buying out storage units, exploring estate sales and culling through places like Goodwill seeking, as Madeleine puts it, “the cool stuff.” Ruiz explains, “If you go to a random thrift shop, they take everything, and you have to spend time picking and sorting. We’ve gotten rid of the stuff that’s not on-trend — it’s a curated process.” In essence he says, “We’ve separated the wheat from chaff. We’re fostering a community that believes in us and are bringing our cumulative taste level to a second store. I’m hoping people will say if Mathew picked it, it’s got to be good.”

Here, Madeleine chimes in, saying she too does the trend-seeking work for the customer. “I look through the clothes and decide what we should buy.”

Set in a renovated 1,200-square-foot space where the signature color is Tiffany Blue accented with rose gold, shoppers, according to Natascha, are gobsmacked at the prices. “They ask, how can you make money?” she says. Their first weeks in business have proved, says her husband, to be lucrative. There are jam-packed racks of clothing (some new with tags), accessories and even decorative items. Find brands such as Levi’s and AG jeans ($15); a Zara jacket ($15); Steve Madden shoes ($15); Kate Spade handbags ($30); men’s Tommy Hilfiger shirts ($9) and Vineyard Vines’ ties ($5). In the mix: charms for Crocs, on-trend shield sunglasses, bracelets, frames and more.

“I always hated thrifting when I was younger,” admits Madeleine. “I guess you could say I was forced into it. But now I think some of the stuff is great and I could actually wear it.” She has her eye on pink Juicy Couture zip-up ($30) but for now is leaving it in stock.

'Can we go thrifting?'

Jeffry Herrera, 17, shops with friend Karina Mejia, 14; Madeleine Ruiz, 14, serves as style director at the new teen-focused thrift shop; Olivia Gallo, 17, of Mill Neck, has visited Encore Une Fois multiple times.  Credit: Howard Simmons; Howard Schnapp

So enticing is the inventory at Encore, that Olivia Gallo, 17, a senior at Oyster Bay High School and the class president has enlisted the shop’s participation in the senior fashion show, a fundraiser for the senior prom, in which volunteer models will walk the runway in stylish, contemporary outfits. According to Gallo, Natascha will style and fit some of the models at the store. 

“I just love Encore,” says Gallo. “Since it’s been open, I’ve been there five or six times.” Gallo says she’s been visiting the store weekly and has purchased “a cute skirt,” gold necklaces, and a couple of turtlenecks, “for like $10. I’m just amazed at the prices.”

Sisters Olivia Gallo, 17, and Savanna Gallo, 15, outisde Encore Une Fois, a teen-focused thrift shop in Oyster Bay, Jan. 5. Credit: Howard Simmons

Speaking of money, Madeleine’s salary for her focused fashion smarts includes “an allowance of sorts and getting first dibs on the stuff she wants,” says her father. And noted: Her parents are overjoyed with her interest in the business. “We kept waiting for the spark,” says Ruiz, who has thrifted for decades. “And when she asked, ‘Can we go thrift shopping?’ it was almost better than the first time she said ‘Dada.’”

Encore Une Fois, 103 South St., Oyster Bay; 516-922-1086.

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