How to sell vintage clothing online
It’s pretty obvious that you’re an avid thrifter with a loaded wardrobe and are contemplating how you can turn that major pre-worn shopping obsession into a profit. A pro in scouring the old, rusty racks of every estate sale and flea market that you pass by, but are hardly inexperienced in retailing. Are we on to something?
If yes, then listen up. The entire process won’t have to be complicated if you are or can be truly passionate about the one-of-a-kind gems that are vintage. Nowadays, most things are done on the internet - and you know that since you’re here right now. Technology has helped thousands of businesses flourish in no time. However, if you’re totally clueless about running an online vintage clothing store, it won’t cost you a single cent to know-how. All you need to have is an open mind, dedication, and some careful decision-making skills to get to the good stuff.
But to break future irrational expectations, setting up this kind of business in the modern-day market isn’t attainable only by how aesthetically special the items are. Or even if they are curated precisely. There are a bunch of other vintage sellers fighting for their spot online. And as soon as you pursue hustling, you’re one of them. So the question would be: how are you going to stand out and really sell?
Know Your Side of Vintage
What do we mean by that? It means your style identity in vintage fashion.
Your favorite babydoll dress may not be someone’s must-have. That tie-dye shirt could be too much for others’ preferences. Put yourself in people’s shoes to know which pieces will trigger their purchase-buttons as soon as they close their eyes to sleep. The balance between what your shop aims to sell and what the buyers want to get.
Establish Your Brand
At some point or another, you have formed your brand in your mind. Is it an all-’40s-to-‘60s store? Will it solely be for women? Men?
There are a lot of thriving vintage shops that are now in the stage of hitting sales over the weekend just by appearing behind the screens. Have an inspiration or two. It will keep your ideas and concepts fresh. As long as you know your sense of clothing, all you have to think about is how to connect effectively to your market. Some of the biggest brands like Fair Season, which was founded by Toni Walker, also began from scratch. Emerging from bottom to top is a gradual learning procedure.
Prepare for the budget.
Since you’re just getting started, investing wisely in long-running equipment and other materials will save you a little more for other expenses. A decent phone camera will do its job. But if the photos require in-depth quality, especially for product details or when photoshoots will take place in open areas, opt for at least a second-hand DSLR camera. It should do the trick. Renting spaces won’t be too necessary at the moment. Free up your apartment unit. Ask a friend or a family member if you could use their house’s garage until you can fund a permanent studio. What matters is your creativity and resourcefulness to make the most of what is there.
At the same time, keep in mind the amount you’ll spend on models or dress forms, packaging and shipping requisites, and of course, your inventory.
Source to Score Pieces
Just because you’ve gone to almost all the car boot sales, charity sales, and other consignment stores you can name, doesn’t mean there is nowhere else you can look from anymore. There are loads of vintage boutiques waiting to uncover. Don’t be afraid to explore places. A wide range of timeless pieces will help maximize your selection.
Focus on your niche.
The ‘40s A-line dresses, the ‘70s bell-bottoms, and the ‘80s shoulder-padded blouses are slowly, but surely, making their way back as more and more are discovering vintage today. There is plenty to acquire, but you can’t sell everything you find worthy. Not also when every shop you visit online caters nearly the similar merchandise. Consistency comes with variety. If you have it, shoppers would know what they will watch out for next. Take it from one collection to another. Seasonal releases could play a role too. Make the market coming and wanting.
Keep an eye on the details.
Don’t let the delicate fabric or the bold prints blind you from the garment’s status. It’s better to pay close attention while sourcing your items. This lessens the money you could waste from purchasing and repairing shabby ones. Sizes and fit call for thorough attention. To those who may not know, measurement standards from a particular decade differ a lot from the size charts in this generation.
Care and Store
Vintage pieces demand superior care as their condition needs to be the same. From how they were bought, washed, and altered until the moment their new owners receive them. As emphasized to Racked by Caitlin McNulty, founder of Narro, “You want to present it like it’s a new piece." The best way to do so is to have storage where your items can remain in an ideal state.
Setting Up Your Store
Visualize how you want your shop to look like when you open its website online. The fonts, colors, and product photos should all align to your brand. Don’t bother designing an extravagant page. Have it in a way that’s inviting. “I wanted it to really reflect things that I appreciate that aren’t just a dime, a dozen, and have a story behind them,” Kate Jennings, founder of Na Nin, explained in a blog interview.
Be specific with the item’s information.
Regardless if you’re a beginner or a business owner in the present, complaints and negative feedback are the least of the things you would want to receive from your blood, sweat, and tears, right? Double-check all labels and materials in the product description before listing each. You wouldn’t want to mislead OR lose a potential buyer.
Go for a reasonable price.
It’s now challenging to look for original pieces from heritage brands that have lived gloriously ages ago. Their value is something worth considering if one is to sell them today. If by chance you’re skeptical between earning fairly enough or wanting to recoup all the costs right away, go online. Take it from Azeezat Owokoniran-Jimoh of Coal n Terry. Look for competitors that offer the same stuff and learn how they price. They may be vintage and classic, but be reasonable. You’ll surely win your market. "It takes that unique thrill of finding a killer secondhand score and amplifies it because shoppers are so competitive. Do you see anything? Do you want it? You'd better not hesitate or it will be gone in a flash," Jennings told Racked.
Market, Market, Market
Don’t expect shoppers to scoop your ‘60s collection if you won't move a single finger right after putting them on your website.
Be on more than one online platform.
Everyone is on their phones, scrolling mindlessly on their socials. Strengthen online presence and engagements by being on the right platforms with the right content. Alia Meagan’s Courtyard L.A. kicked off on Instagram. And it has worked until now. It is, by far, the best place to market your vintage store. Because it highlights photos more than written posts, it easily reaches the public. So much more for a clothing business. Jennings informed, “When we saw how immediate Instagram was and that people were literally selling their entire closets on there, we decided to make an account.”
Etsy is generally used by sellers alike, but it cuts you 20 cents when listing, 3.5% for transaction fees, and 3% for payment processing fee. Depop is another great option, although it charges a 10% cut of each purchase. To spend less, stick to other free sites like Facebook Marketplace.
Consumers can smell a fake from a mile away and we’re having to make up for other brands who have long lied to their target market for the last two decades. Show people that you’re giving the real deal. That you aren’t compromising a reputation to earn bucks that don’t really make much for a stable living.
And that your pieces still have that true vintage worth that most fast fashion outlets can never justify from producing theirs. Always remember: owning your craft will set you apart from the rest.
Whether you’re here for a sideline or for a permanent career, prepare for both the best and the worst. Don’t get too caught up with all the ups and downs and the twists and turns of running a business. There’s no such thing as easy money. The world of fashion and e-commerce has several doors for you to open. You only need not think as if success happens overnight. Because it doesn’t. A well-earned success comprises passion and hard work.
Best of luck to the next big vintage store out there!