If you'd asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing today? I wouldn't have said, living, buying and selling vintage in Chicago and running my own monthly vintage market.
How in the world did I get here?
Every single day I buy and sell vintage via my online sources and my booth. Then, the third Sunday of the month, April-October is Vintage Garage Chicago which is MY show. Mine? It's hard to believe that I actually have a thriving monthly vintage market. In the city of Chicago no less!
My Grandparents spent time living in Merrillville, Indiana when I was young. That was my first introduction to Chicago. I was in love.
Growing up in the 80s there was nothing I wanted more than to live in the place where Ferris Bueller lived and John Hughes movies were made.
Mt. Clemens Michigan is where I was born and raised. 10 years ago i was there and 37 years old. I was raising my own kids. I had a two-year-old, a 4 1/2-year-old and 12-year-old. I was selling online and I had my own shop in town. We bought a great because of an estate sale we ran, the family was all living in different states, sold it to us cheap. My family was nearby my husband Jim's family was nearby. Life was good. We thought.
Lets back up about eight years when I first learned about eBay. Jim and I are looking to make money to put a down payment on a new house. I heard about eBay but I didn't know that much. I was an early computer lover and decided to check it out.
Maybe somebody would buy these two giant boxes of toy cars Jim got from someone at work. My husband has always been a comic book and card collector. Even did shows and dealt in comics and sports cards in the 80's. He'd been hanging onto these cars and I suggested we try to sell them. Jim had a full-time job working for a tier 2 auto supplier in Detroit. Just about everyone in the Detroit area worked for some aspect of the auto industry.
Jim explained these were "promo cars" and they were a give away when you bought the real matching car at the dealership. You got a 1/24 scale model and they were made by three different companies. One of them, MPC was in Mount Clemens. This was common practice in the 50s and 60s. Each of the "Big 3" gave them away with the sold car.
I learned what little I could about them. I spent more time though, learning the eBay side of things. I became active in the communities and I learned a lot. I learned to describe things accurately, use exact measurements, take really good pictures and make sure you describe everything to a T. I was ready to try it.
I had a computer it was still dial-up. Didn't have a digital camera, they were expensive so we invested in a scanner, they were cheaper. I scanned every single car. front back top and side. I laid a blanket over the top of them so were able to get a good view.
The first night I put up 10 cars. The bids started to fly in along with the questions.
I was quickly an expert in promo cars thanks to the bidders and winners. I learned the companies. I learned about condition issues that affect value, like warping, vent posts and friction motors. I learned plenty of things I'd never considered.
The collectors were passionate and wanted to share info with me. I became a pro. My auctions were accurate, customers happy and we made about 10k to put towards our first house.
After the promo cars, Jim still some comic books and cards from his personal collection. We decided they would be next. The scanner came in particularly handy for all of those comic books and paper things. I loved this.
On the weekends I went out garage sailing. I looked for things I thought that might have a name I could look up. I decided (at that point) that women would be better customers for me since I'm a woman and I know women and so I started looking for girl stuff. Then I realized there was scarcity in vintage. So I added that all up together and did a lot of trial and error learning.
I was working full-time during the week. I hated it.
I wanted check my eBay listings and see if I had new bids. I left only my second "real" job to become an entrepreneur. I wish I could say I never looked back, but I have. Even in the hardest times I don't believe I'd ever go back to a 9 to 5 job.
My passion is being online and being a part of THIS world. I knew it even then.
I learned the word star and Lotus 1-2-3 in high school I had to go to the "career center" to learn about computers. Most of the girls in my class did it to get out of other classes. I did it because I wanted to know more. In 1992 I got my first home computer. I was getting AOL discs in the mail every day. I was on early chats groups on Ebay and even was part of a program called "Voices" and it was a sampling of eBay sellers who would come to San Jose and share opinions. Making money online was something that I was dying to do from the beginning and my passion for vintage came along.
Over the next 10 years
An extraordinary amount of estates will be liquidated and vintage will be everywhere. VINTAGE MATTERS. We, as sellers of vintage need customers who love and appreciate the history and nostalgia vintage brings to the table. It's higher quality, it's more cost effect AND holds value. We need new sellers to liven our markets and attract lovers of vintage. Owners of vintage markets need support from vendors to keep them going, vendors need support from the owners of markets to keep them going. In the Business of Vintage, we talk about how to strengthen our businesses by helping each other and this industry.
You will be invited to our private Facebook Group where it's all Business of Vintage. I can't wait!