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Hi vintage vendor*,
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You know how digging through a big box of vintage items is kind of like opening up one of those mystery bags from Claire’s at the mall?
You never know what you’re going to get.
My husband’s version of a mystery bag is the random box of records tucked away in a vintage seller’s booth. He *loves* flipping through them.
Every crate could hold an overlooked rare gem or a pristine pressing. Gotta check ’em all.
(And the more boxes there are, the better for him, because I’ve been known to spend a looong time at a vintage market.)
Anyway, last summer, hubby was diligently examining every vinyl disc in a vendor’s crate at the Hamilton Vintage Community’s summer market.
Buried in the middle of the box was a copy of the Top Gun original soundtrack from 1986.
He pulled it out.
Now, you may recall that in 2022 there was this teeny-tiny sequel to Top Gun called Top Gun: Maverick playing at select cinemas.
(Kidding about that last part.)
It was mid-July and Top Gun: Maverick, of course, already had hit the $500-million mark at the box office, well on its way to becoming a billion-dollar behemoth.
“You should display this vinyl at the front of the crate,” he kindly advised the vendor.
So they did.
When hubby looped back to the booth about 15 minutes later, the record had sold.
Who knows, the disc might have sold regardless if someone had eventually dug through the box.
But surfacing the record sleeve meant they didn’t have to.
All it takes is a little bit of merchandising, a little bit of knowing what’s in the inventory, and a little bit of understanding about what catches a customer’s attention.
Just how important is it for a seller to stay on top of trends and pop-culture moments?
For Tina Beer Hamlin, owner of Coast Consignment, it’s crucial. She uses trends to show potential customers how they might incorporate antiques into their modern lives. (I recently interviewed Tina for a two-part series on valuing and selling vintage furniture — see below.)
But I get a mixed response every time I’ve asked the resellers in our social media community about where they fall on trends.
Part of the joy and the beauty of buying and selling vintage, after all, is untethering ourselves from trends.
Sourcing pieces that speak to you, that reflect your unique worldview, that are curated to your individual taste. The vintage niche can be wild and weird and wonderful — antithetical to the sameness often embodied by trends.
Divorcing ourselves from trends is also one way to source and shop more mindfully, but let’s set that conversation aside for the moment, because it’s a big one.
The thing is, trends are still how a lot of consumers prefer to shop. So it doesn’t hurt to play into that now and then.
How might items in your inventory fit with a current trend?
Maybe you have a few pieces that you can pass off as Parisian-inspired decor or “mermaidcore” (this spring, for example, Etsy reported a 67 per cent increase in searches for custom oil paintings, a 44 per cent spike in searches for ruffled duvet covers, and a 125 per cent increase in searches for scalloped runners).
Or maybe you’ve been hoarding long maxi skirts and sheer blouses, which Elle, Refinery29 and Vogue have all deemed top fashion picks for spring and summer.
Like Tina at Coast Consignment says, bridging old-world items and new-world preferences is a way to get buyers on board.
If we want more consumers to think secondhand first, it’s important to meet buyers where they are.
Any trends you’re interested in trying? Or are you still staunchly anti-trend? Let me know in a reply to this email!
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