Wow, I honestly can not believe a whole year has flown by since Bjorn and I came back from our month long trip to the Netherlands and I started on the path of reselling and blogging full time! I'm really proud of this business I grew out of nothing, and it's amazing to look back on where I started and thought I knew then, and what I am doing now (some the same but a lot different!) I thought I would take this time to publicly reflect on this past year and my experiences to hopefully help any other resellers or business owners on their own journey!
What I love!
(Ok this one is super easy!)
- I have always LOVED bargain shopping, and I'm so grateful to have found an outlet where I can do what I love doing and support myself at the same time.
- When I make a sale and simultaneously help someone also find a great deal on an item they love!
- Making a difference for our environment by promoting the reuse of clothing, shoes, and accessories.
- I am so proud that such a large portion of my business expenses are going to charity via the thrift stores I source at.
- The reselling community is very helpful and supportive!
- Unlike a traditional job with stagnant pay, when I put in extra hard work in my business I see a difference in my paycheck.
What I Didn't Expect
- I did not know as much as about the demand of brands as I thought ( I picked up WAYYY too much Lauren Ralph Lauren just because I personally thought it was nice...)
- The more professional, put together, and cohesive you make your brand, the more customers will treat you like a big business (which is not as nice, fyi)
- You just can't meet everyone's expectations.
- I will be working way more than 40 hours a week, and even when I try to disconnect I can't stop thinking about working!
- Social media is such an important tool for promoting a business.
- eBay may sound like the cheapest place to sell, but after shipping, subscription fees, PayPal fees, promoted listings, etc, (as recommended by eBay) you are paying well over 20% sellers fees on your items!
What I Don't Love So Much...
- In order to get a free return, people will resort to damaging your items in order to open an "item not as described" case.
- People will harass you via messages to get a partial/full refund.
- Working for yourself can be very isolating!
The Changes I'm Making
- As time has passed, I've found I'm not a huge fan of eBay. This is actually the first site I resold on, and for a time this was where I was making my most money. But eBay buyers can be very mean & harassing, and eBay can be harsh when it comes to hiding your listings when you do something they don't like. Plus they have the "buyer is always right" mentality, which has cost me quite a bit of money over time. I've found for me, the stress of receiving an eBay message from an unhappy buyer or possibly not meeting my shipping deadline is just not worth it to me anymore. Since the beginning of 2019 I've started sourcing items geared more towards Poshmark, and hope by this summer when my eBay store subscription expires that I will be able to transition solely to Poshmark. #poshmarkisbae
- At the beginning of reselling full time, I was all about spending the bare minimum for my inventory. If it was more than $1 I would not even think about picking it up, even if it was a great brand I could make money off of! I was just really paranoid about spending money. It is just so much harder to find great inventory at that type of price. Possible, but difficult. My ASP was low and I was having to list and move so much inventory to reach my goals. It was SO much work! Once I got over the thought that spending money was bad, I was making better inventory purchases, had to sell less to make more, and the quality of items I was listing was much more on brand with Fancy Free <3
My Recommendations For New Resellers
- Do you research! Other resellers are so open to share information. Follow them on Instagram , subscribe to their YouTube channels and look out for what they are picking up, what they are selling and at what prices, etc. It is amazing how many brands I look out for at the thrift store that I knew nothing about this time a year ago! (Like, a lot)
- Keep an Excel spreadsheet of your inventory and what you paid for the items so you can keep track of the money you are actually making, how long items have sat around, etc.
- As well, keep track of your expenses and sales NOW so you aren't scrambling come tax time (yes you have to pay taxes on the money you make reselling)
- Make sure to log what you are driving. It is a tax write off!
- EVERYONE has a $0 sales day. It is inevitable. When I get down on a low sales day, I like to look at my numbers and remind myself my reselling business came completely from my own hustle! You got this!
- Don't take returns/unhappy customers/bad review personally. This one took me a long time to learn, but you just can't please everyone, and many people become very confident/mean behind a keyboard. Just do your best. Sometimes you make mistakes. It's ok. Life goes on. There are more important things. Try to do better moving forward. :)
Since I've started reselling, jeans have become some of my very favorite items to flip! They are made of more sturdy material and last longer + certain pairs hold their value very well and can make for a very profitable margin. The jeans rack is usually one of the first places I start in a thrift store, so I've been seeing a LOT of jeans and I've also been doing my research on jean brands and trends to make sure I'm buying what people are looking for.
One trend I am seeing a LOT this spring is the distressed crop fringe or raw hem jean. Being at 5'8", I often find an average size jean is too short and a tall size is too long, so I like a crop jean because it doesn't really matter where it hits my leg when it is over the ankle. Plus I love the fringe/raw hem and distressed detailing that makes it easy to wear casually or really fun to dress up!
The BP (Nordstrom junior's brand) pair I am wearing here are actually a thrift store find (shocker!) and were only $5! Below I've linked a bunch of crop raw hem jeans that are on major sale right now and all under $35 (some of these were originally over $100!) To shop you can just click the link below, and it will take you directly to the website to purchase.
As far as the rest of my outfit, I'd been on the hunt for a double breasted oversized blazer and picked this Mango one up for myself at Goodwill for $9.99 (which was actually a little painful for me haha #resellerprobs) but it was brand new and I actually couldn't find anything anywhere else cheaper! I've shared these Frye boots before but gosh I wear these every other day and just love how chic and comfy they are. They are still on major clearance online, and I've linked those as well as similar blazers, one as cheap as $8, below to shop!
Please let me preface this post by saying that I am in NO WAY blessed in the way of knowing, understanding, and implementing beauty styles and trends. I am 99% sure I am not applying my eyeliner correctly and for most of my life I've been curling my hair with a straightener. Yeah. But when I finally decided to expand my hair style repertoire and explore buying a product that was actually intended to curl my hair, I came across Foxybae's products. I'd never heard of them before, but reviews were good (and the products come in cute colors and prints!) so I decided to invest in a higher quality hair tool.
I've had the Foxybae 1" curling wand for a couple months now and I have to say I definitely see the value in the investment! After I use the wand to curl my hair, the curls last and I'm able to go 3-4 days with minimal touch up! To get the beachy waves I have above, all I did was curl 1" sections of my hair around the barrel, brush out, add hairspray, and done! I'm actually currently rocking the second day waves from this pic.
While in the past I've only seen these curling wands in the triple digits, Urban Outfitters is currently carrying them at a fraction of the price! The 1" barrel I use is marked down to $70, and the wand with two interchangeable barrels is under $100! You can shop these steals on Foxybae below by just clicking the picture!
It was not long into my reselling journey when I heard about Nordstrom's final clearance store Last Chance located near Phoenix, Arizona. Known for near nothing deals on clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods, items end up in this store for a variety of reasons. You will find a lot of the same item if they overproduced or overestimated the interest in the product. As well, a lot of one off items end up in the store due to Nordstrom's generous return policy. If the item is no longer on the floor, or is too worn to be sold in their Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores, they end up at Last Chance. I'd seen other people's amazing hauls from the store, but really had no idea of what to expect going into this experience. I thought I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly (!!) of my 3 hour experience there to hopefully help any other people decide if those deals are right for them! Keep scrolling to read!
Before The Store Even Opens
I knew this place gets busy (duh, great deals) and I was going on a Sunday so I was expecting a crowd. However, rolling up to the store 30 minutes before they open, I did not expect already to see a line of people wrapped around the building! The store is located in the basement area of an indoor shopping center, however they start lining people outside and around the building before they open. I would guess there were already at least 50 people waiting in line when we got there!
Once it was only a few minutes before opening, employees came out and sorted the people waiting into two lines, those who wanted to shop shoes first and those you who wanted to shop clothes first. They definitely had a system down to avoid chaos! I chose shoes because, well, I was just overwhelmed and this was the closest line to me ha. From there the employees led us single file down into the store, so far so good!
Similar to Goodwills in my area, all the items being sold at Last Chance have different color price tags. The day I was there, the sales they were having included 50% off all purple tags, and 80% off the purple tags on long dresses. Everyone swarmed that area when we entered, so there was barely anything left by the time I made my way to that area of the store. Most of the items I bought that day were purple tags, so there were definitely a lot to choose from. Honestly, I didn't pay more than $15 for one item, with my average item cost being around $9.
Outside of the purple tag items, 99% off the items I saw (all color tags) were priced SUPER low. I was pretty picky just because I am not a super big fan of retail arbitrage, but if you are purchasing for your own personal closet these deals can't be beat anywhere. I'm talking DVF wrap dresses for $30. I heard some women talking about how they are used to Last Chance having more discounts, so its possible there are days where more colors tags and items are discounted.
What I was not expecting was to find that most of the items in the store did not have original tags attached. It makes sense that they would do this to deter reselling, but wow that must take a lot of work. (There are even signs around the store forbidding reselling) However, I was still able to find a few pieces with the original designer tags attached. I was worried that maybe the cashiers would be on the lookout for this and remove them, but honestly they were in such a hurry to check people out they didn't even notice/care.
Another thing about the items that I was not expecting was how many were visibly worn, especially for the shoes. Most of the shoes had scuffs and wearing on the soles. I guess this speaks to Nordstrom's return policy. Even items that had original tags attached still had holes or pulls in the material. I recommend THOROUGHLY looking over piece of clothing you are looking to purchase for any irregularities. As far as the range in clothing brands and designers, while a lot of the items in the store are Nordstrom's lower end brands (Halogen, BP, Hinge, etc.) there was also still a very large amount of mid (Tory Burch, Kate Spade, DVF) to high end (Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Burberry, YSL, Chloe) to choose from.
The Other Customers
Ok, this is where everything gets a little nutty. Everything up to this point has sounded great, but you really need to be alert and keep your wits about you in this store because people are not here to leisurely shop. I've shopped a lot of sales and thrift stores in my lifetime, but none of those trips really prepared me for this place. The people are here to find the good deals, and find them before anyone else. Most of the common decency you would expect at a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack will not be found here. People WILL push your cart out of their way. They will grab an item out of your cart if it is something they want. They will jump ahead of you on the rack to grab something right out of your hands. While I was looking through a rack of jeans an employee rolled out a rack full of down jackets, some of which I saw had the Moncler symbol on the arm. I beelined that direction and was only about a foot away when two people jumped in my way and made me stop while they grabbed EVERY SINGLE JACKET OFF THE RACK. I just stood there for a minute literally like :0
Another little interesting tid bit of info is that Last Chance only has a couple fitting rooms, so don't be surprised to come face to face with a topless woman squatted behind a clothing rack trying on shirts. Nothing to see here folks.
Like most Nordstrom Rack stores, the checkout counters are at the front of the store. After I was done shopping, I was surprised to find that the checkout line went from the counters at the front of the store down the middle of the store to the back, went along the backside of the store, and turned back up almost all the way to the front of the store. Pretty much a full upper case "U". But like how they wrangled us into the store at the beginning, the employees really have a handle on lines and keeping things as organized as possible. There were employees along the way that took off your hangers and security tags. As long as the line was, it probably only took me about 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the line.
Tips FOr Success
- Get there early to take advantage of the biggest deals of the day
- Bring a buddy along so they can watch your cart if you need to go to the bathrooms (which are outside of the store)
- Lay a big item over the top of your cart and your other items so no one takes them out
- While the racks having size sections, a lot of items are disorganized and out of place so I recommend going through all racks
- When you see a new rack being rolled out FOLLOW IT AND BE THERE FIRST
- Only water is allowed inside the store, but I definitely bring some because time moves at a different pace inside this store
- Keep a mental note of what items have the big security sensors on them and make sure they get taken off (one of them got left on one of my items)
- Wear a crossbody bag to allow maximum arm usage
- Dress comfy because I can assure you no is there to impress anybody (I think the opposite actually lol)
- Look over every single item CAREFULLY because so many items have holes or defects, and this store is no exchange/refund/return
Overall for me, I would come back in a heartbeat if I find myself in the area again. I may even make the 10 hour round trip just to come to this store again. Considering the brands I found (a lot of which I've never been able to find in a thrift store) it is the perfect situation for me because I absolutely live for the hunt of a good deal. But if you prefer the comfortable, leisurely shopping experience, and don't mind paying up for that, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. It was fun reliving this crazy experience with you, and if you have any questions or your own experiences with this store to share feel free to leave a comment below!
Aritzia Wilfred Ruched Dress [new, $18] St. John Cardigan [secondhand, $18] Nude Block Heel Flats [new, $50] Ralph Lauren Leather Crossbody [secondhand, $1]
I'm not too adventurous when it comes to my outfits or accessories, I like classic and versatile pieces I can mix and match. When it comes to my hair I'm the same way! My favorite hair accessory right now is a tortoise clip or barrette. It's a very easy accessory that goes with any color you are wearing, and very timeless! It gives off a total Audrey vibe.
I've linked a lot of really cute tortoise hair accessories at really great prices below, a lot of which are on sale! The first one below from Banana Republic below I also have, and it is actually a ponytail holder that goes around your hair! It is a really great way to spice up a simple pony. Scroll through the pieces below and just click on any of the pictures you are interested in buying!
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- Marie Claire, September 2016