Managing an Etsy Shop - Part 1 - Acquiring Vintage Gems

My mantra is I thrift therefore I am ... but my house is starting to look like an episode of hoarders!  I have a shopping problem.  There - I admitted it!  I'd like to publicly blame my mother for this.  When I really think about it - if making me a shopping addict is the worst influence she's had on me - I should consider myself lucky. And hey, with Mother's Day just around the corner - what better time to recognize the influence of my mom on who I am today?  I love shopping - mostly I love the hunt.  Knowing that great things lay there undiscovered is pretty exciting to me.  And if they're affordable - even better.  Because I don't run my own full-time shop, I don't always have the time to organize or SPACE to store all my treasures.   Shopping for vintage items is the fun part of running an online vintage shop.  Maintaining and listing new inventory - not so much.  The process can sometimes be pretty time-consuming.  Over the past year or so I've streamlined the process a bit and thought I'd share some tips.   I should FIRST  admit that Vintanthromodern Vintage on Etsy would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of my assistant Emily G.  We've been working together for over a year.  Hiring her was probably the best thing I could have done (I'll describe that process in another post).  Because I have a full-time career 8 months out of the year, my vintage shop is a part-time endeavor;  Emily lists all the items, which is crucial to them being found on Etsy.  If this were a department store - I'd be the buyer and she'd be the visual merchandiser - we've become an unstoppable team, legends in our own minds, even.  If and when she leaves to pursue her real career - I'm screwed.  In the meantime,  we've gradually been working out a system that seems to work.  This is the first in a series of posts about Maintaining Vintage Inventory.

Acquiring new items

This is the fun part!  I shop for vintage almost very day.  I walk up and down each aisle scanning for color, pattern, and texture.  If something catches my eye, I put it in my cart.  I am often drawn to items that seem to fit together aesthetically or have a certain thread running through them.  It's amazing how this can change from one shopping trip to the next.  I am sure that imagery on blogs, items in brick and mortar shops, in movies, etc subconsciously filter in and influence my buying preferences.  Once my cart is full, I go through everything.  In clothing and purses I check for holes, stains, and missing/broken buttons/hardware.  On shoes, I bend the soles, stick my hand inside and make sure there isn't any rotting, cracking, or overall yuck factor.  I've ordered a few vintage pairs of shoes online and discovered that devil's dust is a common problem, especially with lined boots and shoes. After going over items with a fine toothed comb,  I think about the kind of gal that might actually buy the item and how she might integrate it into her wardrobe.  Wearability is a crucial component in vintage clothing selection.  Just because something is vintage doesn't mean anyone will actually wear it. I have a lot of vintage polyester items that no one will ever buy - they're vintage but NOT classic.  They're not even kitschy - they're just ugly.  I've certainly been trying to cultivate my vintage fashion sense over the years and sometimes I end up discarding items that aren't "special" (this is Emily's word) enough.

This past weekend I headed out to Goodwill. I had accrued frequent shopper points at each which meant I could deduct 25-30% off my entire order at the store.  That adds up to a lot, so I wanted to get out and take advantage. Remember what I said earlier about being drawn to a certain aesthetic?  Well on this trip I was a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Once I got everything home and hung up, I spied two very distinct trends - BRIGHT saturated tropical inspired color and prints and SUBDUED earthy and feminine pieces.  Kinda like Carmen Miranda meets Marilyn Monroe.  Crazy.  Do you live on the East Coast?  Check out this article from Refinery29 about thrift store shopping in NYC - and another gem from Apartment Therapy.

In Part 2 of Running an Etsy Shop, I'll talk about how I keep my inventory organized!  Stay tuned...