The Ups and Downs of Being an Online Vintage Clothing Seller

Four vintage dresses laying flat
Vintage Dresses
Selling vintage online is one of the best part-time hobby-turned-jobs I've ever had. And I'll say this to anyone who will listen. 

I also often say, "It feels illegal to  be able to do what I love and make money from it." Because how can so much happiness come from a simple job?

Apparently, a lot of happiness. If you love vintage clothing like I do, then you'll understand this. There is joy in vintage. 

Selling vintage clothing online is a dream come true. It took a passion of mine (vintage) and turned it into something from which I happen to make money.

They say "You'll never work a day in your life if you love what you do." I am the ultimate testament to this proverb. And I can tell you it's 100% true - that proverb's veracity is legitimate.

Having said all that, there is always a caveat to every situation. Yes, it's a fantastic outlet for me to sell what I love, but owning your own business is not for the faint of heart.

Before you dive into the world of selling vintage fashion, here's a list of things to consider.

1. People are people. Good customer service is a requirement for any vintage shop worth their snuff. This means responding to email queries, answering odd questions, and doing this almost all day. You of course can choose your hours, for example, "I won't answer emails past 9:00pm at night." Boundaries are great. But, people won't always respect that. They expect that if you're online, it means you're available online anytime. Develop a thick skin and keep your boundaries. Remember, when you own your own business (selling online is a business, and you will need a business license), you do it all.

2. People don't read. This is one of my biggest pet peeves about online vintage buyers. They don't read the listing! I can highlight it, put a billion exclamation points in the listing, and post my policies everywhere, and folks STILL won't see it. That's because most online buyers tend to be fast buyers. They see something, want something, and don't take the time to really read through the description. For me, I'm an ALL SALES FINAL shop, so not reading through the description can get folks in a pickle, not to mention, all riled up. My shop, my rules. But, be warned: people don't read.

3. People think you're Amazon. Hanging on the tenets of the previous topic (that people don't read the listing), people will think you're Amazon. They want their item immediately (like yesterday) and think we have other folks working our business 24 hours a day. Slow fashion takes time. Vintage means it's quality, it's beautiful, and more often than not, a small business with one person doing all the shopping, listing, photo-taking, and shipping. We're a one-person Amazon who has to sleep at night. In other words, we're not Amazon. Let people get upset if you're not as fast as Amazon, but again, develop a thick skin, you're human and you can't do it all within an Amazon-type efficiency.

4. You're going to have to work hard. If you want to make money, you will have to find and list vintage and do a lot of just that. This takes time! I have about 650 items in my shop, but it took years to get to that number. And to sell a lot, you need to have a high number of goods. If you don't mind selling an item once a week, then feel free to have as few items as you want in your shop. But, I want to make money every day, which means I need more items in my shop, for more people to see, and for more people to buy. More items mean more money. Plan on working hard to get where you want to be, and then once you're there, you can maintain it with ease. But be forewarned, this will take years.

5. You'll get to be surrounded by what you love. And now for the good news, this is the best part of selling vintage. You get to be around all the things you love! Vintage clothing, vintage shoes, vintage accessories... all the vintage glory is yours to work with and profit from. It doesn't get better than this! Own your love of vintage and sell (and keep, of course) what you truly love. When you love what you sell, your customers can feel it with every listing you post.

A logo for perennial vintage clothing shop on Etsy
Perennial Vintage Shop
Selling vintage is fun and inspiring, and the thrill of treasure hunting for the clothing you sell is another huge component of the dizzying glory behind vintage clothing. 

When you go into selling vintage knowing how much work is required, along with understanding that people are people (they act and do strange things), it will keep your expectations at a reasonable level. You will make it! Work hard, love what you sell, and you are bound to be profitable. Interested in selling on Etsy? Click here to get started.

Again, I love what I do and will never not sell vintage. And I'm going on 14 years with Etsy. They are a fabulous venue to sell vintage (eBay and Etsy are different platforms, I'd recommend Etsy for vintage) and I wish you all the best in your vintage clothing endeavors. 

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