I decided to make a video rant about vintage clothing shopping online and all the annoying things about it. Mostly customer service stuff, vague information, and bad practises from sellers. Check out my YouTube if you want to see occasional rants about politics that don’t fit into my music blog!
For accessibility purposes, I have a transcript of what I said in the video below.
If you follow me on my Instagram or knew me from Tumblr, you’ll know that I love vintage clothing and much of my wardrobe is vintage. There are many reasons I like buying vintage clothing: to look like I’m really from my favourite decades, because the clothes have character, it’s more environmentally friendly, quality is good and at one point the prices weren’t so bad, and I’m not contributing to the problem that is sweatshops. I have a whole blog post on why I buy vintage clothing and I’ll share it in the description box below.
I’m one of those people who isn’t lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of vintage shops – and those closest to me just sell 90s crap. And the thrift shops around me are tiny and have a bunch of granny clothes that are too big for me or generic fast fashion. So I go online to buy clothes.
There are some positives like larger selection and ability to sort and narrow down based on what you’re looking for, but the negatives are that you can’t try things on first to see how they sit on your body and you can’t feel the clothes and get an idea of the quality and construction. Pictures can be deceiving.
Today, I’m going to share some of my pet peeves of vintage shops and things that annoy me the most about shopping for vintage clothes, particularly online, but some of these complaints can apply to brick and mortar shops. Let’s get started! Obviously, I’m not naming names or singling anyone out and this is not to bully vintage sellers. This is constructive criticism, not a tea spilling video.
1. Overpriced Tat
Here’s the reason that inspired this whole rant video in the first place… I was on Instagram and I saw this one Depop “vintage” shop say that vintage resellers online aren’t responsible for the gentrification of thrift shops. I check out their shop out of curiosity and lo and behold I see a pair of Walmart platform sandals selling for $65. Get out of here! Those shoes sold for $20 or $25 tops back in the day. And somehow someone bought them… What a sucker.
A lot of vintage shops online will clearly buy things from the bargain bin at the thrift shop and sell it for 5 or 10 times as much. Stop taking the piss with your pricing. It’s fair if you buy cheap stuff and then upcycle it into something cool, but those clothes could go to people in need. I’ve seen people clearly selling children’s shirts and acting like they’re crop tops. A single parent could have made good use of those thrift shop clothes.
Slap the words vegan and vintage on something and you can charge 5 times as much! It’s crazy. I don’t want to knock people’s hustles, but don’t take the piss with pricing.
I’ve seen Gunne Sax dresses selling for $500 now because of this cottagecore trend. Hey high street shops, now’s the golden opportunity to make reproductions of these clothes and make some serious coin and give an opportunity for those of us who are busty a chance to find clothes in this style that fit.
2. Not listing measurements
Since you can’t try on clothes that you’re looking at online, the way to know that it fits is to check the measurements. Good vintage shops will post the measurements and will have the garment on a mannequin or a model and list their measurements too. Better yet if they say if the garment allows for stretch or if the fabric has give or if it’s meant to fit baggy. The more specific the description the better! No such thing as too much information.
However, I’ve seen many a vintage/secondhand seller list dresses and stuff and not post a single measurement or even list what their measurements are. A clothing size is not enough because clothing sizes have changed a lot over the years and are even inconsistent from store to store, so give me the measurements – doesn’t matter if it’s inches or centimetres, give me something to work with.
This isn’t just a vintage problem either. Even regular clothing stores won’t always list every single measurement of a garment and I see this a lot in trousers and jeans. As someone with a big butt, I need to know the hip measurement since that’s going to determine if it will fit or not. The waist measurement isn’t enough for me to make a decision.
3. Unresponsive sellers
Most of the time, if I have a question for an online seller, they get back to me promptly and I really appreciate that, but there have been times that I had a question and they leave me hanging. Especially annoying with eBay auctions where there’s a limited time.
I get that for a lot of people it’s a side hustle, but don’t you want to make a sale? Isn’t that the point of having a business? If you don’t answer a question, you might lose a sale and potentially future ones. If this is how you treat a potential customer, how will you treat them after they’ve purchased something?
This isn’t a complaint I have about vintage sellers, I also get annoyed with independent shops that do this too. Be on the ball and get back to people as quickly as possible. Good communication is professionalism.
4. Not listing the price
This doesn’t apply to Etsy or eBay but I see this on Instagram. I don’t get why people do this. Just be up front about prices because I don’t want to waste your time after asking what the price is and then feeling like that’s too much. I think that Instagram sellers not listing the price is a trap or a ploy to get people to enquire and feel pressured to buy something because they’ll make it out to be such a good deal. If you’re open to negotiation, then put a starting price and allow people to make offers or bundle if they want to buy multiple things.
5. Pay with PayPal friends and family
This is a common scam on Depop and Instagram, but can happen on any selling platform. What scamming sellers will do to make it sound like you’re getting a good deal is to go off the app and pay the person directly on Paypal friends and family. If you sell on these sites, they can take up to 10% in fees. The problem with paying with this method is that if the person makes off with your money and doesn’t send you your item, they bait and switch, or the item isn’t as described, there is no one you can turn to to rectify this.
I remember a few years ago there was this one girl in the vintage community who was legitimately selling stuff from her wardrobe on Instagram. She had this one really close friend/roommate, but it turned out she was scamming people using her friend’s name and she was selling her friend’s stuff under the guise of it being a vintage shop online and nobody who bought things got their stuff. The friend I think stole stuff from her friend and stole money from hardworking young people through this scam and ruined her friend’s reputation. There are a lot of dishonest people in the community and people are afraid to speak up about it.
Stick to buying things on selling platforms because you’ll be protected if something goes wrong. However, you can buy goods and services through PayPal and be protected. Use this option. If the seller has a problem with it, then they’re a scammer.
6. Leaving stuff that’s on hold listed or not allowing things to be on hold
I’ve seen both happen. I understand that sellers can create their own policies and I get their annoyance at time wasters and flakes. It sucks when you think you’ve got a sale but then someone goes lol jk not buying that anymore and while that item has been put on hold there were people you had to turn down from buying the thing because it was on hold. Good customer service though makes people want to buy from you.
One thing that annoys me about Etsy is that there isn’t a way to make an existing listing private if someone is paying in instalments or has an item on hold so sometimes when I’m searching and I see this incredible item, I find out that the item is on hold for someone else – why can’t I filter items on hold? Etsy’s programmers need to come up with a method for this so that way it doesn’t frustrate people who are trying to buy something.
Another thing that annoys me about holds is when brick and mortar shops won’t allow them or they make you pay a deposit for the item. One time I was in a vintage shop and I saw this amazing orange kaftan I really wanted, but the price was a bit steep. I wanted to buy it, but first I wanted to comparison shop to see if I can find something like it for less in other shops in town, and I did end up finding something in a similar style for about 20 pounds less. Before I left the shop, I asked if I could have the item set aside for me for the day and they looked at me as if I had three heads and said I’d have to pay a deposit, which is basically buying the thing on layaway and creating this obligation to purchase. No thanks. If it’s a refundable deposit, fair enough, but it feels like a high pressure sales tactic creating fomo.
7. Leaving items up that have been sold!
As a follow up to the last one, this is even more annoying. Ever see an item that’s so amazing and then oops it’s been sold! What a tease! Instagram shops, take stuff down from your feed if it’s been sold and put it in an archive in stories that way people don’t get their hopes up when something’s been sold and they can get an idea of what you’ve sold in the past. I’ve seen the same thing happen on Etsy. Why bother? Stop listing things that aren’t available. Make shopping easier for us. Stop wasting my time!
Anyway, so these are the things that bother me the most about vintage shopping. At this point, I’m better off buying custom made and curating my purchases. Peace!
Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!
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