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Second-Hand Treasure: One Stylist Turned Thrifting Into a Successful Business. Here’s How You Can Too

Thrifting stylist Tristan Bego is turning her Goodwill shopping habits into good fortune by modernizing hand-me-downs. 

The Denver-based fashionista and her business partner launched the inclusive clothing brand The Common Collective Co. in 2021, with the intention of bringing in local creatives, artists, and designers as vendors to sell their merchandise as a way to promote inclusivity and give other marginalized small businesses owners brands exposure.

Tristan Bego, co-founder of The Common Collective Co.

The resale industry is estimated to have annual revenues of approximately $17.5 billion, including revenue from antiques stores, which are 13 percent of their statistics, according to First Research data cited by the U.S. Census.

The Common Collective Co.

“The meaning behind it is it’s a common collective — we are just bringing back what could have been — should have been — a common thing, but it’s not,” Bego told 303 Magazine. 

Bego was known in high school for turning heads with her unique apparel that she says was largely thrifted. As a low-income student, she was never ashamed of wearing previously-owned clothes, but instead embraced her creativity, mixing and matching shades and patterns that complimented her personality.

Thrifting Is the Trend

The emerging appeal of second-hand clothes, shoes, and accessories have become all the rage as consumers flock to thrift stores to give their wardrobe a makeover for a fraction of what it costs as opposed to paying retail prices. Bargain hunting, on top of record high inflation, has taken thrifting mainstream, exploding the long-held stigma about second-hand shopping.

In the U.S., thrifting-related Google searches averaged 4 million a month from July 2021 to June 2022, double the search volume from the same time period the previous year, according to an analysis by storage-space marketplace StorageCafe. The resale industry is expected to be worth $51 billion by 2023, and social media has presented unique opportunities for vintage Black-owned stores and entrepreneurs that have been underrepresented in the resale industry, The New York Times found.

Bego Promoted her Business on Social Media

Bego’s Instagram account was the launching pad for her business when she was working a corporate job. During breaks, she would take pictures of her outfit of the day — drawing interest from friends and gaining a broader follower base. She now offers more services than just styling, among which include pickups and drops for donations, closet clearing, and organizing, which has helped market her services to find new clients. 

How To Get Into Thrifting Business

Breaking into the resale clothing industry requires just as much fortitude and strategic thinking as any entrepreneurial endeavor, so here are some thrifters’ tips on how to get started and best practices.

  1. Take Flattering Photos of items “If the photos don’t look good, they’re going to keep scrolling,” Rose Suiter told The Denver Post. She suggests staging clothes somewhere aesthetically pleasing, either using flat-lay photography or a mannequin.
  2. Make Sure You Will Turn a Profit: This might be a fun hobby but if you are doing it as a side hustle, you will want to make sure the items are bringing in money. “I always ask myself one question: Can I double my money?” Ariel M. Ruggeri, a six-year eBay seller, told Business News Daily. “If you come across [a] great product [to resell] but it’s overpriced, walk away!” If the item won’t make money, consider donating it instead.
  3. Learn about SEO: Although this can be intimidating, SEO, or search-engine optimization, plays a critical role when promoting your goods, Suiter said. SEO optimization isn’t as hard as it seems, just do what Suiter does. She thinks of the keywords people would type into a search engine when looking for that particular item.
  4. Give all the Details and be Honest: Suiter makes sure shoppers can see the brand of the item, the size, measurements, condition including any flaws–from a missing button to a stain. “I have to be honest because I do not want them to be unhappy,” Suiter said. “I’m trying to create a return buyer.
  5. Ship Immediately and Followup: Once some one buys he item, get it shipped right away. You don’t want to keep your customers waiting. And if you have any shipping hiccups, make sure to communicate with the client. In fact, Cosmopolitan suggests you “OVER-communicative. If you’re a little late with shipping it out, let them know! If there’s a USPS delay (as there often is), also let them know!” Good customer service can make a one-time customer into a loyal customer–plus get you good reviews.
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