Thrift stores, resale apps, and fashion exchanges are big business these days. The second-hand market is estimated to be worth $36 billion, and it’s projected to grow to $77 billion by 2025, per thredUP.
Austin’s bohemian reputation mixed with its entrepreneurial spirit is attracting a wave of resellers, such as Drake and Roy Muyinza. The couple moved to Austin from Minneapolis four years ago. Two years ago, they launched Ephrance Vintage.
While both had experience thrifting earlier in life, the openness of Austinites to resale felt brand-new.
“’I’m like, ‘Ok, I’m home. These are my people,’” Drake said. “Everyone in Austin is from somewhere.”
Ephrance Vintage is rooted in reverence for character and personal style. To source the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s apparel that fills their Etsy store, the Muyinzas are influenced by one “really, really cool woman”—Drake’s mom.
When Drake sees something special, he likes to say, “This is fire. My mom would wear this.”
The business earned about half its pre-pandemic revenue from pop-ups at Austin events and the rest from their Etsy and Depop stores.
At the height of the pandemic, the duo earned all of their revenue online, but now pop-ups account for a greater portion of their revenue than ever before. The in-person interaction at pop-ups enables word-of-mouth marketing.
“I want to start a conversation with what I wear,” Drake said. “(Like), ‘Where did you get that? I have to have it.’”
Typically, the vintage boutique lists items for $25–100. To increase their margins, the Muyinzas partner with estate sale organizers to buy in bulk at a discount.
They also source items from Goodwill by sifting through pay-by-the-pound bins. For most of their pieces, they charge no more than $5-10 above what they bought them for to account for the time spent sourcing.
Flipping Showroom Merchandise
Brianna Strickland owns Little Shop of Red, a Poshmark closet consisting of merchandise that she purchases touring designer showrooms in Austin and around the country and meeting designers with her mom.
She sells hard-to-find items like Tarina Tarantino designer jewelry. For this reason, Strickland’s customers follow her closely, sometimes shopping her closet multiple times per week.
“It has become a lot more personal than I ever expected,” Strickland said. “I list the things that I want… You never know what’s going to sell, and the longer I do this, the more I’m reminded of that.”
To build community with her 143,000+ Poshmark followers, Strickland donated inventory during the pandemic and offered discounted bulk boxes for other resellers.
She calls unearthing finds and bringing them to light a “never-ending, always learning process.”
Austin Retail Moving Online
Brick-and-mortar retailer Wild About Music, located on 6th and Congress, sustains itself by relying on Austin’s tourism industry.
But in order to survive during the pandemic, Wild About Music’s Nikki Nadeau decided to expand to Poshmark, where she lists exclusive, limited-edition items like band t-shirts and memorabilia. Few items can be found elsewhere—like on Amazon—and that’s the store’s main differentiator.
Nadeau and her employers buy wholesale from local artists and designers. The individual sellers get pricing advice and learn about holiday sales forecasts from Nadeau, so they build a symbiotic relationship.
Resale For Good
Top Drawer Thrift, on 49th and Burnet, is a sourcing destination for resellers from across the country. It opened in 1993 to support Project Transitions, a non-profit that offers housing support to people living with HIV/AIDS in Central Texas.
All of the store’s merchandise is sourced from a network of donors, and all profits go to the cause.
“I don’t want to say we’re an emotional store,” long-time employee Karin Kokinda said. “But we take the time to get to know the customers, and I think that makes a big difference…There’s a woman that brought us donations from Houston—her brother passed away from AIDS. She brought us some amazing mid-century pieces because she said she knows her brother would have wanted them to come to us.”
Top Drawer returns the love to the community by pricing merchandise according to need. More practical items are priced lower, while unique and collectible pieces are marked with their novelty in mind.
Advice For Prospective Resellers
Are you considering launching a resale side hustle? Ephrance Vintage’s Roy Muyinza says not to be intimidated.
“You don’t have to have everything together in order to be successful at the beginning,” Roy said.
To learn more about Austin’s community of online sellers, read this story on some of ATX’s biggest Etsy shops.