When I first started blogging several years ago, I was motivated by other bloggers who make a living as re-sellers: people who find treasures at thrift shops and then resell them to those who don’t care to do the hunting but value the product. Turns out that wasn’t really for me; it really is a lot of work to make such a venture successful. Still, I admire those who do this. One of those I admire is my friend Mackenzie who recently launched her Etsy store, Small Wonder Shop.
Mackenzie (seen below) has always loved fashion and the way clothing says something about the person who wears it. That, combined with a love for period drama and a desire to create her own unique look, naturally drew her to seek out one-of-a-kind clothing in vintage and thrift shops.
“I wanted something that allowed me to express myself without being trendy,” she says.
Thrift shopping was the norm in her family and, like so many of us, she developed a love for the treasure hunt. As she’s gotten older and learned more about the fashion industry, thrift shopping has also become a matter of making ethical choices around consumerism, waste and the treatment of workers in the garment industry.
She also realized that she was good at thrift shopping and joked about the blessing/curse aspect of the ability to find great stuff but not wanting to be an over-consumer. She desired to turn her “weird knack” into something positive and earn a little money on the side. Her mother’s nickname for her is ‘small wonder’ and so, Small Wonder Shop was born.
One of the things that makes any reseller legit is their in-depth knowledge of their product. In preparation for starting her business, Mackenzie did quite a bit of research into what makes an article of clothing quality vintage. She discovered that it’s a combination of fact and intuition.
“Etsy has specific guidelines for what defines something as vintage. It has to be 20 years old or older,” she says. (Anyone else suddenly feeling vintage?) “I also learned that where and how something is made can determine its age.”
Clothing with tags that tell you they’re made in Canada or the U.S. will almost automatically make it older since most clothing these days is made off shore. Seams are trimmed with pinking shears or sewn without a serger will tell you the clothing is likely hand-made.
“The longer you do it, you develop a sense for whether or not a piece is vintage and if it will sell,” she says.
She is picky about her product and won’t buy it if it’s in poor condition. Clothing and accessories that she brings into her shop are carefully laundered (also tricky if the clothing comes without any tag identifying fabric used) and she uses a steamer as it is easier on clothing than a traditional iron. She keeps the clothing in a separate room to keep them clean.
The most time-consuming part of her shop is the photography. At this point, she models most of the articles herself. That means taking the time to do her own hair and make-up and set up the room where she does her photography. Since she doesn’t own a lot of photography equipment, that means having to do it when natural light is available. Then she uploads to her Etsy site with descriptions and costs.
“Determining shipping costs is the hardest thing because of being in Canada,” she explains. “Shipping from Abbotsford to Vancouver is a lot cheaper than shipping to Winnipeg or Halifax. I had to do a lot of calculating to determine a flat rate.”
One of the nicest things that Mackenzie does is pay attention to detail in the packing of her clothing. She folds the clothing neatly with a ribbon and attaches her business card/tag to it. She has collected stationery sets and hand writes a thank you note to each customer.
“This makes it more personal,” Mackenzie says. “When you’re buying vintage, you’re literally buying a one-of-a-kind item, so it’s more like sending a present to someone.”
For someone who is committed to thrift/vintage shopping and sharing the treasures found, reselling is a natural next step. Even so, it matters to me to purchase from a reseller who does their homework, understands both their product and the customer, and takes care to make the purchase experience a good one. Take some time to visit Mackenzie’s shop for yourself: Small Wonder Shop.
What about you? Is reselling something you’ve ever thought of doing? Have you bought items from a reseller you’d recommend?