Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Junction Tuesday: Why we thrift

Hello fellow Quarterlifers!  After covering costume jewelry for the past few weeks, I’ve decided to move on to the topic of general thrifting and how to be the best at it. I’ve read many articles about thrift shopping and they all seem to be the same – generic and impersonal. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to cover everything from the obvious to my own first hand experiences. 

This week I’m going to start from the beginning. Why are you thrift shopping? Each reason will change the way you approach your shopping experience. Are you…

  • going to consign
  • going to sell your finds on eBay
  • shopping for yourself 
If you are thrift shopping in order to consign your finds, that mean you are entrusting your items to a dealer for sale, but retaining ownership of them until sold. The dealer pays the seller, usually a 50/50 cut, only when and if the goods are sold.

If you want to be successful at consigning, there are a number of things you should be aware of. First off, who is their target market? Is it a young 20-something looking for a new outfit to wear on a Saturday night?  Or a 9-5’er who wants to add to their work wardrobe? If you don’t supply the right product, you won’t make much money. 

Request an “interview” with the consigner and make sure you’re on the same page. What season are they accepting clothes from; what is their cut; do you have to dry clean the items first (which means you have to deduct least $5-$10 per item from your profit)?  

Are you planning on reselling your finds on Ebay or another online market? This can be very tricky. You’ll have to be aware of current trends, the latest designers, and not only the value but also the going rate for these items. This is a difficult market, because once you figure in your costs (buying price, selling fees, loss from not selling) you’ll have to decipher whether the item is worth it or not. You may come across a pair of Rock & Republic jeans for $4.00 and flip them for $100, but this is not an every day occurrence. The better you know the “demand”, the more you can focus on attaining the “supply.”  

(Ed. note: Selling on eBay is pretty hard unless you focus on a niche area, like, for example, Steve Madden shoes.  If you're all over the place selling random stuff, it's probably not going to be worth it.  If you have a Quarter Life postcard, you'll see an eBay URL.  If you've been reading Quarter Life, you'll notice we don't really sell on eBay anymore.  Life's been a ton easier since we gave up and stuck to shopping for oneself.  -Lisa)

And finally, if you’re thrifting for yourself, I’ve found it best to hone it on a season, style or specific item. Thrift shopping can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for things you like. Stick with one type of apparel and put your all into it. Rather than try and see a little in each department, focus on one and see everything in it. This is how you’ll find the diamond in the rough.

Next week I’ll cover preparing for your thrift shopping trip and what to expect.  And don’t forget to visit MidCity’s annual sidewalk sale Dog Days of Summer this weekend at 14th and U Street, August 7 and 8!  

-Shannan Fales is the owner of Junction at 1510 U Street NW. She shares her expertise in vintage and thrift each Tuesday.


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