Slice of Life

SU student and business partner open vintage clothing store downtown

Meghan Hendricks | Assistant Photo Editor

Clothing swaps are just one avenue The Cherry Pit’s founders – Abigail Minicozzi (left) and Michelle Pfaff – have taken to make clothes more available and sustainable.

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Abigail Minicozzi and Michelle Pfaff didn’t even know each other when the founder of The McCarthy Mercantile in downtown Syracuse first suggested that the two work together and open a shop. Only a few months later, the two were running their own vintage store in The McCarthy Mercantile called The Cherry Pit.

The vintage store opened in February after Michael John Heagerty, McCarthy Mercantile’s founder, put SU sophomore Minicozzi and Syracuse local Pfaff in contact. Heagerty connected them because he realized they were curating the same kind of fashion, he said.

“Michelle’s really good at marketing. Abigail’s very good at merchandising,” Heagerty said. “They help each other out in taking on the different roles that are needed to make a successful shop happen.”

Hagerty isn’t the only one who agrees that the two fashion retailers have gotten along well.


Though Minicozzi thought that their differing backgrounds would make working together strange, the two hit it off right away. Minicozzi said she’s thankful Heagerty realized that Minicozzi and Pfaff would make great partners in the world of vintage indie shopping.

“I feel like we instantly clicked, and all of our ideas went together really well,” Minicozzi said. “We’re definitely very grateful for him because we can go to him for a lot of things. He knew we had the same goal to further our businesses.”

Bringing Minicozzi and Pfaff together wasn’t Heagerty’s first time trying to bring smaller artists into the spotlight. He has run other events such as Sidewalk Sessions, where vendors and musicians are able to display their art outside the mercantile. Heagerty always ensures that he’s giving new artists a chance to show their work during events like those held by Salt City Market.

“We’re just trying to create a more inclusive way to buy clothes, Abby Minicozzi,” one of the founder of The Cherry Pit

Minicozzi and Pfaff noticed Heagerty’s sympathetic energy toward lesser-known artists through the events he creates. Heagerty loves giving unique businesses a platform to show their crafts, Minicozzi said.

“I’m now a professional risk taker,” Heagerty said. “It’s what I do, but it’s been great because it gives opportunities for people to come up with their brand and create pop-up opportunities.”

Pfaff came up with the idea for the store when she wanted to think of ways to thoughtfully get rid of clothes she often impulse-buys at thrift stores. Customers can stay up-to-date on outfits available for sale by following the store’s Instagram, and they can sign up for clothing swaps through the link in the store’s bio.

The Cherry Pit occasionally hosts free clothing swaps, which the founders said they support because of the events’ positive environmental and financial impact.

“It’s a good way for people to swap cheaply made clothes to prevent them from going to the landfill,” Pfaff said. “It’s preventing these fast-fashion clothes from ending up in the trash and giving them one more life.”

The Cherry Pit founders Abigail Minicozzi and Michelle Pfaff

Meghan Hendricks | Assistant Photo Editor Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director

And while the clothing swap is free of charge — participants bring clothes and may choose as many as they brought — the event gives people a chance to stop by and potentially find items they’d like to buy.

Aside from its financial inclusivity, Minicozzi said The Cherry Pit is just as inclusive when it comes to size and gender. They want all of their clothing to be treated as unisex, and Minicozzi said that it makes her happy to see men walk into the store and buy blouses, skirts and dresses.

“We’re just trying to create a more inclusive way to buy clothes,” Minicozzi said.

Minicozzi described the Mercantile as a “hidden gem” because of its downstairs location at 217 S. Salina St. In the building’s lower level, there’s a wider selection of indie shops.

The Cherry Pit is just one of the many stores managed by lesser-known artists in The McCarthy Mercantile that help provide a creative space within the community, Heagerty said.

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Despite the store only being a few months old, Heagerty has noticed the business picking up popularity and looks forward to seeing what Minicozzi and Pfaff do in the future.

“The Pit is an infant. It’s only a few months old,” Heagerty said. “So to say that … they’ve grown and learned and adapted into this recognizable brand is impressive.”

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