How Do You Resell Thrifted Clothes?

Thrifting, while both trendy and affordable, is extremely time-consuming. Some people don’t want to spend the time going through endless Goodwill racks, some feel like they never strike gold at the thrift store and some say the thrift stores near them are far and few between. If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck, because there are others who have done all the hard work for you.

Online shops for people to resell thrifted and vintage clothing are on the rise - most of these vendors used to live on Etsy or Depop/Poshmark, but now people are creating their own websites or even selling through Instagram.

I talked to three online thrift sellers - one who sells on Etsy, one who has her own site and one who sells through Instagram - to find out why they chose the platform they chose, their thrifting roots and being and what it’s like being an online business owner! These ladies are all serious style icons, so they know what they’re talking about.


CeCe of Belle & Black, an online shop opening in October 2018

CeCe modeling her own product.

CeCe modeling her own product.

Why did you decide to open up your shop?

Belle & Black was born from a serious love of thrifting! The opportunity to not only thrift for myself, but now others for Belle & Black, is a total dream. Finding awesome vintage pieces and putting together outfits and sets is a form of creative expression for me. I love sharing that with others through my store.

Why did you choose the platform you’re on for selling?

My shop is built through Shopify and it's been incredibly easy to use and customize! I knew little to nothing about building a website, let alone building an online store, so Shopify has been a huge help. Half the fun of building an online vintage store is putting all your own creative touches on it and Shopify totally lets you do that.

How did you get into thrifting?

I've been thrifting since early high school and I first started going with my parents on weekends before I could drive (my mom's been thrifting her entire life) and it just continued from there!

What do you consider to be your best thrift find of all time?

The Celine bag.

The Celine bag.

A few months back I found a vintage Celine Macadam Boston bag! I saw it sitting in one of the locked cases at Goodwill and couldn't believe it. Another woman was standing there next to me browsing the locked case and I remember trying to flag an employee over as quickly as possible so I could claim it!

What are your top tips for thrifters when shopping?

1. Take advantage of tag sale days and student discounts if you can. Find out when your local Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc has specific tag color sales or specials like that!

2. Don't be afraid of the grungier/messier thrift stores. They're not as easy to pick through as an organized Goodwill, but I've found some awesome pieces at some of the less organized thrift stores I've been in. Just because the outside (or inside!) doesn't look great, there might be some treasures buried somewhere in there.

3. Don't thrift with a specific piece in mind. Don't walk into a Salvation Army thinking, "Okay, I'm looking for a pair of vintage mom jeans." When I have a mission in mind, I almost never find it. All the best things I've found have been complete surprises. Like they say about lots of things, when you stop looking for it, you find it.

What do you look for when thrifting for shop inventory?

I don't sell items at Belle & Black that I wouldn't wear myself. This goes for quality, style, etc. I try to find pieces that are on trend (or ahead of trend, because you know it's comin'!) and items that have that "one of a kind" feel. I think thrifting allows you to have a super unique, personal style, since there aren't duplicates of each item hanging on the racks, and I love that Belle & Black gives that to others.

What do you love about thrifting?

This is also some people's least favorite thing about thrifting, but for me, I love the idea of knowing that someone else loved and wore these items before me. I think it gives every piece an energy and uniqueness. Like that Celine bag I found -- what fabulous lady carried that on the crook of her arm before I did? I think of all the items I've donated to local thrift stores that I used to love, pieces I've worn to concerts, birthdays, etc. and I like to think someone else is out there wearing and loving them too. Thrifting gives a story and a life to our wardrobe.

Belle & Black: SHOP | INSTA [a great place to get updates until the shop opens!]

Cece: INSTA


Hannah of TnT Vintage and Thrift, an Instagram shop  

Hannah.

Hannah.

Why did you decide to open up your shop?

I decided to open TnT Vintage and Thrift as a way for me to hone in on my styling skills, have a way to share styling tips to the world, and promote sustainable fashion! I had been wanting to do something similar for ages, but had been terrified to start. I put crazy standards on myself on a regular basis, and was terrified of failure on a public level. I forced myself make an Instagram story "announcement" telling my followers a launch date to give myself accountability, and dreaded each day up until then. It wasn't until the third week that I started to relax and realize that I could make this shop grow in any direction that I had wanted! I am excited to see where this little shop grows, and hope I can at the very least help educate others on the horrors of fast fashion and importance of shopping sustainable! 

Why did you choose the platform you’re on for selling?

I am a purely Instagram based shop at the moment, this may change in the future to broaden my exposure but I wanted to start "small." My Instagram links to a Facebook page as well, but they have the same content. I chose to start small with the Instagram shop, so I could invest all my profits back into the shop, have my own rules and regulations, and a process of my own. It's ultimately the platform I am most comfortable with, but also allows me entire content control. As I grow, I may find a platform that works for me, with a bigger audience, but I love where I am at in this moment.

How did you get into thrifting?

I got into thrifting as a result of being in a budget-savvy large family! I am the youngest of seven, so growing up with that many siblings, hand-me-downs and pre-worn clothing were a given. My mom would bring us to thrift shops, estate sales, and garage sales from a young age. I learned how to bargain, dig, and treat each place as if it was a treasure hunt! She always had the perfect eye, and could find high-quality items and brand new pieces regularly. I became so good at thrifting and shopping on a budget from my mom that once a classmate I had known for about ten years had confessed to me she was intimidated by me growing up because I always had the best clothes and looked "so fancy."

What do you consider to be your best thrift find of all time?

My best thrift find of all time was a black vintage Coach bag, the "Willis," from Buffalo Exchange. The bag is the PERFECT classic and timeless staple, especially for someone like me who wears black 90% of the time. At the time, I had been very indifferent about purses in general and would use each of my purses until they were "run into the ground" and had to be thrown away. So as yet another black purse had broken, I was on the hunt for something understated but classy. I wanted an everyday bag with nothing too flashy, or over the top. I spotted it hiding behind a few other bags, and fell in love with the messenger style immediately. I took Willis straight to check out, and pet him the whole way there. Several days later, as I had finished cleaning the bag and started piling in my belongings, I found the etching of the Coach label inside, and researched the number attached immediately! Not only was it the perfect bag, it was my first designer bag, and all for about $15! The Willis bag is currently selling online at re-sale shops from anywhere from $75 to $225. The icing on the cake was about two years later, I realized my sister (who lives in another state), owns the same exact bag in brown, which she also found thrifting! The family that thrifts together, stays together!! She also recently gifted me the brown bag, so now I own a matching set.

What are your top tips for thrifters when shopping?

I have a few top tips for the thrifters that can make all the difference. First of all, do your research! Many places will have certain days they are half off, or certain tags on that particular day.

A wedding shoot Hannah thrifted and styled.

A wedding shoot Hannah thrifted and styled.

Another great thing to remember, is to show up dressed comfortably but feeling good about yourself. I am talking flattering comfortable jeans/bottoms, a flattering well-fitted bra for the ladies, undershirts, and easy to slip on/off shoes! If you find a beautiful top, but you are feeling bad about your greasy hair or your ill fitting denim, chances are that you will end up passing on that top.

Which leads in to my next tip, TRY IT ON! I know it's not ideal trying on worn clothing, but it makes all the difference (avoid the hats though). If it peaks your interest, try it on! Like the color, try it on! In your size, try it on! A blogger you like wore something similar, TRY. IT. ON. Okay, you get the drift. You don't know if you can pull it off, until you do! Thrifting is all about being brave, and stepping out of your comfort zone! Which is why some of the most stylish women I admire, 98% of their wardrobe is thrifted. It will give you a truly individual wardrobe, that is uniquely you!

Last tip, don't be afraid to look in the sections for the opposite sex! Occasionally someone will hide pieces or haphazardly put them away, but I also often wear men's pieces. Unisex is cool, guys.

What do you look for when thrifting for shop inventory?

When I am shopping for shop inventory, I always look for pieces I would wear (if in my own size), and pieces I believe I can style, At the end of the day, it is my brand and it has to be something that "speaks to me." I only want to sell pieces I personally find beautiful and unique, and not just what I hope people will buy. 

What do you love about thrifting?

I love the thrill of finding the diamond in the rough, when you dig and dig and dig and d... okay yes dig, and you find that PERFECT piece! A brand new pair of Lucky Brand heels, an orange tab pair of Levi's denim, a vintage beautifully sewn women's dress. It makes it all worth it, especially when you see your customers falling in love with the piece just as much as you! 

Tell me about how you’re using Instagram stories to make your shop stand out.

I like to use Instagram stories in a variety of ways, as I am still testing my favorite methods. My favorite section is the "highlights" section of Instagram stories. It allows for so much freedom of adding new product to the shop quickly, without the need of full posts/captions. I have done a variety of stories, whether it be styled pieces on mannequins (with matching background music of course), or a try on session modeled by yours truly! Experimenting is what makes my stories stand out, and I am happy to engage with my audience. I also love to ask them questions about what they'd like to see in the shop as well, or polls about certain pieces. 

TnT: INSTA | FB

Hannah: INSTA


Lauren of Passing Whimsies, an Etsy shop

Lauren in a gorgeous thrifted dress.

Lauren in a gorgeous thrifted dress.

Why did you decide to open up your shop?

Thrifting is something I've been really passionate about since I was 16 years-old. I’ll often come across beautiful pieces that perhaps aren’t my size or style, but that I still want to find a good home for. What I was started noticing at shops in Brooklyn though was how high vintage sellers were pricing — it just wasn’t fair to the buyers. I wanted to combine my love of vintage & providing accessible, affordable pieces to others who may not be able to find them where they live.         

Why did you choose the platform you’re on for selling?

I currently sell on Etsy! In the past, I’ve sold on Storenvy, which takes both new and vintage clothing. This time around I wanted to be more selective with the pieces I was curating. Etsy only allows sellers to list pieces prior to 1999, so I knew it would help me only really buy the pieces that were truly spectacular and one of a kind for others to enjoy.

How did you get into thrifting?

I started thrifting in my hometown in Ohio at age 16 by going to a rummage sale my church was hosting. I was just starting to get into fashion, particularly vintage, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw all of the pieces right in front of me that the style icons in these movies were wearing. Combine that with low prices & the thrill of the hunt, and I can’t stop thrifting (or talking about it!) nine years later.

Lauren in another stunning thrifted dress.

Lauren in another stunning thrifted dress.

What do you consider to be your best thrift find of all time?

Every thrifter’s most difficult question to answer! I would have to say a 1970s original DVF wrap dress. It doesn’t get more iconic than that!

What are your top tips for thrifters when shopping?

1. Don’t try to look at every section of the store — choose one to three articles of clothing you’re really looking for (say dresses, skirts, and pants) and focus your time on those areas.

2) Go often! Just because one trip isn’t fruitful, it doesn’t mean you may not hit the jackpot in a few days if you try again.

3) If you’re looking to buy merchandise for your shop, have an Etsy or EBay page pulled up so you can type in items to see if they’re real vintage or reproductions.

What do you look for when thrifting for shop inventory?

I always try to ask myself, “Would this be something I would personally buy? What is the value in this piece? What’s makes it special?” If I can answer those three things, I then look for flaws. A lot of sellers are great at mending and cleaning vintage to completely turn a piece around. I’m not quite at that level yet, so if a piece seems too far gone or damaged, I won’t purchase it because I want to make sure I’m providing the best quality pieces while I’m still learning the tricks of the trade.

What do you love about thrifting?

Finding new treasures & keeping their story going for generations to come! Also that thrifting is the most sustainable option for buying clothes. We studied the detrimental effects that the fashion industry (particularly fast fashion) has on our planet while I was studying for my fashion merchandising degree at Kent State. I want to do my part to cut down on waste and improve + advocate for better working conditions for factory employees worldwide.

SHOP

Lauren: INSTA | BLOG