On Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, there’s a pink entrance to heaven. The store is in the shadows of Kellogg’s Diner and across Macri Triangle, Union Pool. It is unlike anything I have seen. Stepping into Plus is like stepping back from the grey skies of New York City in March. But it’s more of a dream for Alexis Krase, the pioneer behind New York City’s only brick-and-mortar vintage and secondhand shop that caters to plus-size customers.
The carpets inside are soft and fuzzy. The racks come in various vibrant colours and bustling patterns, ranging from 12X to 6X. There is a Marc Jacobs bag there and a Vivienne Westwood one there. The girls are overweight, and the couch is pink. The whole environment makes me want to do a Nicole-Kidman-for-AMC style monologue about the sacredness of this space. Still, the fact is that there are nine AMC theatres in Manhattan alone, but only one Plus BKLYN–or anything else like it–in the entire city.
It shouldn’t seem like a new thing. But for many, it is. For so many years, fat people have been used to shopping with friends, fondling necklaces, and trying on clothes together.” Krase says. He’s seated on the tufted sofa at the back of the shop, with a stack on the table: My Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Tyler; You Have the Right to Remain Fat By Virgie Tovar; Landwhale By Jes Baker.
The story began in a small storefront on Graham Avenue in 2017. It has since found a home on Metropolitan that is more stable and will continue to thrive. Despite many small businesses closing down and being forced to close, Krase managed to turn difficult times into hard-earned profits. The store had its best year financially in 2020, surpassing it in 2021 and continuing to grow in 2022. The story began when Krase, an individual who had just entered the storefront in spring 2020, walked down the deserted street and started posting items on the Plus BKLYN account.
“I began [story selling] as a survival mode when the pandemic struck. I wasn’t sure if we would survive. My employees had to go. It was me alone in this room. It was me in here. She says. “I was terrified, desperate, hormonal, and constantly crying. So I came here daily by myself to take photos and post items. The situation exploded, and we began to do better.
Krase and her staff had previously been conducting live sales in QVC-style on the store’s Facebook page to engage with the plus community. However, before COVID Plus, BKLYN was an entirely in-person operation that relied heavily on foot traffic and tourism.
She explains that the first thing she does when she travels is to search for “plus-size boutiques” on her smartphone. “If I’m travelling to a foreign country, I will search for the best places to find cute things. Now, tourists are slowly returning, people who spend money because of their excitement, but we now have people who found us via social media. Although the resurgence in tourism is not at the same level as before, we have gained a new audience.
Krase was born in Philadelphia and moved to New York 20 years ago to get an NYU degree. She worked as a technique after graduation and always had a side hustle. One day she would be her boss. After many years of leading teams and people, she decided it was time to pursue her passion for fashion.
“I was always a fat girl who loved fashion, even though there were very few options. She says that as an older millennial, “there was nothing for me,” her deep Shirley Temple curls giggling with excitement. “So I made lemonade from lemons. I like thrift shopping and would repurpose menswear for fashion. When I first moved to New York City for college, I assumed there would be many options because it was the fashion capital of America. But there weren’t. It was all empty. It was easy to decide to do my thing. “I’ve been through this struggle. There are millions of people just like me. If I can build it, they will come.” That was my thought, and that is what I did.