Sunday, July 18, 2010

"That price is just too high." "I can find a coat like that in a thrift shop for $5." "I'll find a dress like that myself and pay a lot less."

These are things I've heard over the years in conversations all over the internet about vintage clothing. I've heard the wails of people saying sellers are pricing things too high. I've heard people saying they can find the same things themselves for $5.

So here's my honest opinion about buying vintage clothing and pricing. Remember this is my opinion so it does not represent anyone's opinion but my own.

Vintage clothing is not my hobby. It is my business. Like any business I have bills I incur to promote my business. That eye candy website I have has a monthly fee. The auctions I list have fees regardless of whether the item sells or not. That advertising links I have are an expense as well. I also pay fees to PayPal and Google checkout when I sell something. I have business cards, stationary, flyers, etc. They are necessary to my business and are also an expense. Let's not forget the shelf full of fashion books that I consult when looking at styles, eras and details to make sure I am dating these vintage items correctly. And of course there's my internet connection for how else would I be able to draw on the expertise of the Vintage Fashion Guild members when I have a question that I can't answer after researching a dress for hours on my own.

How does that vintage dress you buy from me arrive at your door all nice, clean and ironed? Well, I clean that dress with specialized products that are friendly to vintage textiles. I iron or steam that dress and check it over with a fine tooth comb before it's packaged for shipment. Those specialized products, steamer and iron, the tools of the trade so to speak, are an expense as well.

But the biggest expense of all is hunting for that perfect vintage dress that someone is going to buy from me. It means spending time in places that might have one nice piece of vintage for sale even though you've traveled 50 miles to find it. It means spending time with a family who is selling their loved one's home and they are selling vintage clothing that may or may not have been stored properly. It means listening to the clothing's past and where it was worn (which I absolutely love!). It means bringing home things that you hand wash only to have them disintegrate in the wash bin in front of you because they were touched by cold water and very, very mild soap for the first time in 50 years.

Let's not forget setting up the display of the dress on a mannequin, half form or model. I also have to photograph the dress in just the right light so that all the wonderful features stand out (which requires a decent camera and lighting set-up to do).

Then after editing the pictures and sometimes having to take those pictures again, hoping for better more clear results, comes writing the auction itself trying to describe in words what you've just tried to capture in a few images. You also hope that whomever decides to buy your dress has actually read what you wrote including those oh so important measurements because vintage clothing does not fit like the clothing of today.

So when you are looking at my listings or the auctions of hundreds of other vintage clothing sellers and think in your head "that dress just costs too much", I hope you'll remember the time, skill and dedication it takes to bring a vintage dress to life in an auction listing. We are your personal shoppers. We use our skills to bring you the best the past has to offer. You're not just paying for that dress. You're paying for our expertise.


The Red Velvet Shoe said...

Thank you for this post. Only another vintage clothing seller could truly understand the work/commitment involved in this industry...

Marge, Born Too Late Vintage said...

You're welcome. I truly love my customers and for the most part they do understand that there is a lot of unseen work in presenting a fashion from the past.

It's my pleasure to provide vintage fashions in the best condition possible.

Heidi B said...

Thank You for putting that in writing, hopefully it will be widely read by newer vintage shoppers who don't yet realize that we don't hit the local thrift and walk out with 40 mint pieces all for under $20.00 a couple times a week, list for outrageous prices and sip champagne all afternoon while those items list themselves.....Itsamatch9 of eBay, Bonanzle, Cqout.

Carmen and Ginger said...

I just say "Yes, you are right, go find that dress yourself." LOL! The reverse of this of course are the people at the yard sales who say "My neighbor is an antique dealer and they say that bag is worth $50." Ok, well a) it's a yard sale b) I noticed THEY did not buy it for that and c) good luck! It is so hard to both be cheerful but have a thick skin in this biz! I will keep your post in mind as I try and shake off my negative feedback this week caused by a vintage necklace that evidently gave way en-route to Japan. Did the buyer write to me and explain the situation? No, she decided to let me know via scathing feedback suggesting I intentionally sold a broken piece. None of us would be in business long if that were our goal, but, it is surprising how people are ready to "suspect" vintage sellers of trying to get away with something! I suppose it is the "huckster/peddler" aspect that is always associated with the business. We all sort of buy into it with our clever descriptions and modeling and such, so, I suppose this is the price we pay! Thanks for the post and thanks for always being so supportive of my shop on your blog!