I’m in the fortunate position in that I’m offered a lot of stock – at least once a day, someone will ask me if I “buy from the public” – yes I do! Buying vintage is the best part of what I do and I love it!
For most of the last thirty years I’ve spent the bulk of my disposable income buying vintage fashion – originally it was just my wardrobe and then I’d find nice things that weren’t my size but perhaps I knew someone who might like them? Wherever I went, I would find and buy nice pieces of fashion or textiles.
The result is that I have an awful lot of stock: as a collector I used to have about 500 pieces. Then for my shop I bought another 10,000 in 2003-4. Since then I have an excuse to buy as much as I like but it’s much easier to buy than it is to sell – a collection of vintage might include hundreds or even thousands of pieces and it can take me many hours to individually clean and restore each piece and then find a home for it. I do my best but I only have limited resources of money, space, time and energy. Sometimes I can’t restore it so I donate it to the opp shop or if it’s in too poor condition, take it apart and use it to restore other pieces.
It’s a blessing and a curse: I want to save all the lovely things.
I’m always buying certain things, but as my collection is very large (currently about 15,000 pieces) I need to justify the purchase by demand and the price needs to reflect what I have to do to it to make it saleable: hand wash or dry clean, stain removal, fix damage and restore the fabric. Plus I have to add a margin to cover the costs of selling: rent, wages, tax, electricity etc. It would be nice if I could include a little in there for my work too. Then pieces can get dirty and damaged from being tried on – so there’s more work.
It’s a laborious process and I love what I do, but it’s hard work, especially compared to modern fashion where you can sell a piece many times over. Everything that I have is unique and special and deserving of respect.
Whilst I can’t always offer you money for your items, there is another option – you can donate your clean and good quality items to the annual National Trust vintage clothing sale, which raises funds to support their wonderful costume collection.
Contact Libby on 9819 4831 or Nance on 9889 1042 or Deborah on 0418 334 475 and they can arrange to pick up items.
Here are some sneak peeks that I took recently when I visited – the next sale is on 14-15 March and they’re accepting donations now. You can see more information here.