Proprietor of Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap Pairs Purpose with Her Passion for Secondhand Fashion

by Staff Writer

Born and raised in the City of Buffalo, Ruth Kennedy, known for her standout style and a strong entrepreneurial head for business,  has always been focused on community growth. 

She is currently owner and operator  of Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap,    one of Buffalo’s best East side gems for second hand shopping and even new and popular items.  It is a  special thrift boutique  that provides premium forward fashion, by way of  top notch second hand items that have their rightful place in every woman’s wardrobe. 

“I’ve always thought about  a system of building community wealth  and to have more leisure that everyone can afford…everyone deserves nice things,”  said Ms. Kennedy.

 Located at 974 Jefferson Avenue    Miss Betty’s   occupies the first level of a house with a green facade and a picture store front window that faces the street. The  main door   opens to a lovely parlor filled with merchandise and connecting rooms that trail to the rear of the store.  

Kennedy gets her inventory by way of donations from her long time community supporters  carrying items that cater to women from ages 25-35. No matter if  you are interested in today’s fashions or if you are a professional who prefers name brands and even elder retired women looking for quality, Miss Betty’s has something   for you and you won’t have to stretch your budget beyond its limit to shop! 

“My inventory consists of 70% slightly used, 30% new and plenty of options for all. I’m so grateful for the support I get from the community. Their donations allow me to transfer the savings to the customer so their dollars can buy them more and they can also save,”  she explained.  

The  attractive store layout was created by former Gallerist and Art Dealer Paula Coleman who creatively mapped out a more appealing shopping environment.  Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap experience is well worth the visit. From two-piece ensembles, dresses, coats, hats, accessories, jewelry and shoes, the store offers a comfortable and tasteful shopping experience.

“Paula’s creative assistance has been invaluable,” said Kennedy. “ I honestly could not have accomplished this without her.”  

Ruth Kennedy   makes her price points with a purpose for good reason. “ It’s the coming thing” she said, “with  the way the economy is going, we are going to have to find ways to give the community better options for items they need, and make our dollars go farther.  That’s part of my goal.”  

   -Looking Back 

(photo archives Ruth L. Kennedy on left and In Center Betty Fowler and Friend

In the 60’s  as a young woman Ruth and her long-time friend Betty Fowler operated a store on William  Street called  FEMINA 3 BAZZAR  where they sold things like food, clothing, furniture, and rented space  to other vendors offering a variety of items for a full shopping experience. 

 “It was like the first ‘mall’ in the community where people could stop at different vendors to get whatever they needed” recalled  Ruth.

 Professionally Ruth owned and operated RLK Accounting and Income Tax Service in the Cold Spring area of Jefferson Avenue providing over 40 years of outstanding service. Remaining fully vested in the community,    she retired the Tax business in 1996  and along with her late husband Robert Kennedy, who also operated Bob’s Barbershop on Jefferson Avenue for over 40 years until his death in 2002, invested in commercial and rental properties in the community for roughly 14 years. 

“I’ve always conducted my business on the East Side of Buffalo” said Ruth. “

A contemplative Ruth L. Kennedy at the Entrance of Her Thrift Boutique Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap on Jefferson Ave in Buffalo/challenger news photo

This community has always supported all the business’ that my husband and I operated. Giving back to the community also means keeping business in the community. That’s what I will continue to do.” 

-Continuing the Legacy-

 After a successful 7 years operating the business under the name “Dirt Cheap”  where she sold furniture and fixtures, the business moved to its current and now permanent location on Jefferson Avenue in 2017.

In 2018 she and longtime friend  Betty Fowler reunited in business and  formed a partnership where Ruth added  Fowler to  “Dirt Cheap”  officially changing the name to “Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap.” Fowler,  who brought the fashion apparel savvy to the business died suddenly that same year so Ruth formed a sole proprietorship as “Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap,” keeping the name in tribute to her dearest friend as she continued to move forward at her new location . 

“We became sister-friends, I felt honored to know and have her in my life so I decided to keep the name as we had changed it” said Ruth  “Like Betty always said, ‘If you’re going somewhere take someone with you.’

 -Future Vision-

With a new year ahead Ruth keeps her spirited,  positive outlook on what is possible in the world of shopping second hand and she’s  on a serious mission to keep this good thing going towards expansion outside of its own walls. 

“ I want to franchise” she said  with a powerful urgency in her voice. “ With the down spiral of today’s economy I strongly believe that  thrift stores could have a lucrative future.”

From the looks of it,  Ruth Kennedy has firmly seeded the mission of this business that was built for success. 

Look for Miss Betty’s Dirt Cheap  upcoming 2020 sales, giveaways and community events in the Challenger and on their social network.

Miss Betty’s is open Thursday Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Call 887-8333.