Ask advice and get tips from expert vintage sellers and buyers.
I'm not technically selling full-time..as I still have a 9-5 weekday job. However, most of my free time goes into picking, posting and packaging. I've been selling on eBay since about 2004. I got into vintage about 4 years ago. I did an 'about me' section on my blog a few months ago... http://fatandyzvintage.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/chewing-the-fat-the-story-of-fatandyz/
I believe you'll find many of us are mostly picking thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales. Living in Maine, I too will not be seeing any yard sales for a few months. So, I'll be hitting thrift stores and indoor flea markets. I've combined road trips with picking. For example, this past weekend my girlfriend and I spent Friday & Saturday picking around Massachusetts. Visit a city near where you live...Pick local thrift stores as your tour the area.
I agree with Jimmy & Oscar about international buyers. Those have been some of my most loyal customers.
Also, Oscar's advise about promoting is very important. Not only for sales but connecting. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, message boards, etc. has been very helpful for me. This site has been extremely helpful! You should definitely set up a storefront on defunkd. I would (I'm sure Jimmy would as well) love to see this become the international destination for vintage tees.
Welcome to the community...
Just checked out your blog...very nice! Nice to see the storefront on defunkd
This is all very helpful.
I live in Indiana (went to Purdue, stayed here). We have three Goodwills and about 100,000 people in the area when school is in, so the stock turns over pretty quickly. We have a couple smaller stores, but the stock takes a lot longer to turnover. Also, our chain of Goodwills just rolled out a Rewards program, so that is nice. In addition to always getting 10% off of every $20.00, there are a bunch of special rewards, too.
I've ditched the "U.S. only" rule. The funny thing is that the Post Office is, literally, one block from my apartment, so I will stop being a baby about that. Ha.
A couple more things...
Do you sell your stock (same items) on multiple sites? For example, Defunkd and Etsy? As mentioned, Defunkd doesn't yet have the audience that Etsy has, so Etsy would obviously reach a wider range of potential buyers. Is that uncouth? What if two people bought the same item at the same time?
I understand promoting... I'm just not sure where/how to promote. I mean I can throw up a link on my Facebook or Twitter, but only my friends are going to see it. Perhaps a separate Facebook page? Even so, who is going to "like" a random page and actually pay attention to it.
Post Office convenience is important...My full-time job is across the street from the post office. The post master knows me by name.
3 stores and 100,000 people...my best store in Maine is in a town of about 20,000. I visit this store at least every other week. I always find something. I should set up a photo album of what I've found at this one store.
Couple things I've learned is; It only takes 1 tee to make it worth your time and Never give up on a rack.
Multiple stores - I list on eBay and Defunkd. I signed up for etsy, but I haven't put any time into listing on that one yet.
Definitely set up a facebook page and twitter id exclusively for your vintage. Follow other users of vintage interest. It's all about self promoting and networking. I have fun with twitter. It's been like a game to get mentions and retweets. I've had a few celebrities reply, mention or retweet me.
Good advice about Twitter.
Also, when I say multiple stores... I meant listing the same items at multiple stores. Like, would it be a bad idea to basically mirror my shirts that I have for sale here on Etsy?
I do that. I've just started listing on defunkd first and putting it on etsy second. That way when someone is using google to try to buy an eighties Minnesota shirt (hey, it could happen) they will be directed first to defunkd. In the off chance that an item gets purchased from both sites before I could remove it from the second one I would just refund the second buyer. But when one sells I can remove it quickly from anywhere else on my phone, which I check obsessively.
I have most items listed on defunkd and ebay (as fixed price listings.) I wouldn't do an auction for any items I've listed on defunkd. I've also lowered the prices on most items on defunkd.
Almost forgot...I've had a local sports radio show mention me a few times lately. The host is the local sports anchor for an NBC Television affiliate in Portland. Not sure if I've got any visits from it but it was still kind of cool.
If you are going to sift the thrifts, I recommend that you become omnivorous. Don't just do t-shirts-- I make an extra $30- $50 selling books a month on ebay or Amazon with little added effort. Not a lot, but there's not much hassle. The only problem is that i also find books that I can't live without and have 50+ to read! You can also grab vintage camping gear, shoes, whatever you have enough expertise to flip for a profit.
It's also a joy to NOT have to stand in line at the post office ever again. Automate everything through Paypal and ship them yourself. i just drop everything at the PO or have them pick up.
I need to get on Defunkd myself...
Frank...you just explained how I started. I use to look for collectible books all the time. One of my first finds at a thrift store was about 15 Star Wars West End Games RPG books. Those were a huge success. I think the next good find was a box of original Strawberry Shortcake Dolls. I walked right by them at a yard sale. My girlfriend stopped me and said, "Do you know what those are!?!?" I think we got the whole box for $7. One of them sold for over $90.
I also try to go to auctions. I haven't found and vintage tees yet, but I've picked up some other antique/vintage estate items.
Oh, I pick other things, too. I'm pretty adept at knowing which video games are worth a few bucks. For example, an easy-to-find game like Contra for NES still sells for around $12.00 or so and I've picked up a couple of those for 99 cents. Records, too. I've found some pretty good records in the past. Once I found an old Rolling Stones 45 with the picture sleeve, bought it for 49 cents, and it sold for almost $50.00.
I can never seem to find any big ticket books, though.
I do think t-shirts are the easiest to find in terms of items you can sell easily/quickly for, at least some profit. I don't think too many people pick shirts around here. If I see a group of college kids rifling through the shirts I think "Good, they are just gonna weed out the garbage." One time, like eight years ago, I saw someone snag an old Anthrax shirt before I got to it, but haven't seen anything like that since.
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