The Rise of Vintage Resale Fashion in Canada Amid a Consumers Shift [Video Podcast]

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Craig and David MacMullen, Co-Partner at Drop Spot Vintage discuss the journey of building Drop Spot Vintage, a vintage clothing store in Hamilton, Ontario. They delve into the expansion of the business, including the opening of a second location and a dedicated warehouse for online sales and wholesale. They explore the challenges of sourcing inventory, the types of merchandise available, and the growing demand for sustainable fashion. The conversation highlights the impact of the sustainability movement on the resale market and the future vision of Drop Spot Vintage, including potential new stores and expanding their event brand.

A transcript of the conversation can be found below.

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Transcription

Craig Patterson 0:03
Welcome to the Retail Insider Video Interview Series. I’m your host, Craig Patterson. And we’re joined here today with a special guest, David MacMullen. He’s the co founder of Drop Spot Vintage, based in Hamilton, Ontario. Welcome, David.

David MacMullen 0:16
Hi there, Craig. How are ya?

Craig Patterson 0:18
Excellent. Excellent. Tell me a little bit about your business.

David MacMullen 0:21
I own a vintage clothing store in Hamilton, Ontario. We started a year and a half ago in August. And pretty much since then we’ve done different things to kind of expand the business and like the vintage world, opened up a second store warehouse in the GTA.

Craig Patterson 0:45
How did you get into the business of resale clothing?

David MacMullen 0:47
So my partner, Jacob, and I both started kind of in the sneaker world, or streetwear world and we were reselling stuff like designer hoodies, Jordans stuff like that. Over COVID, there was a big craze on a lot of collector markets, including the vintage clothing market. So naturally, it being clothing similar to what we were already doing with shoes it was a natural crossover. After that, we started selling vintage half-and-half. From there, we were able to just integrate it and we ended up liking it a little bit more which it became fulltime. And shortly after we agreed to just dive into a store to see how it goes. And we took it from there.

Image: Drop Spot Vintage

Craig Patterson 1:42
Oh, my goodness, when did that store open in Hamilton?

David MacMullen 1:44
So that was started August of 2021. So just just coming up on the two year are in a few months.

Craig Patterson 1:55
Now you’ve expanded the operations since then. Correct? You mentioned a warehouse in the GTA, is there a second location as well?

David MacMullen 2:00
Yes, a month ago we opened a second location on the other end of Hamilton. Obviously, Hamilton is growing quickly as well. So we wanted to have that option on the other side of the city. It’s about 25 minutes away from our flagship store. And it’s not as big as our flagship, but it definitely still offers a snippet of what we offer and what we try to do. We also have a warehouse in Toronto, which is dedicated strictly for like our online portion of our business as well as wholesale. It’s very competitive, a lot of other stores are in need of inventory. And we’re fortunate enough to have a team that can source enough inventory that we’re able to offer wholesale deals to other stores across Canada.

Craig Patterson 2:46
Now where does the product come from? Because it must take a lot of merchandise to be able to do this to both in your stores as well as do wholesale.

David MacMullen 2:54
For sure. I’d say for everyone, inventory can come from all over. Some people, on the smaller scales, would be the classic thrifting. I think there’s the delusion vintage stores have like mass thrifting nonstop. In reality, we’re needing to source hundreds of pieces to 1000s of pieces a week, especially for multiple stores plus an online market plus wholesale. So there’s a lot of different ways. Obviously, wholesale is one of buying from people that have access to inventory. In Toronto is one of the fortunate hubs where there’s like a lot of recycling centers where stuff that is going to be shipped overseas, basically to go get sorted. So we’re able to get access into those warehouses and sorted through hundreds of 1000s of pounds a day. And only a very small percentage of that is actually stuff that we’re able to use or resell I guess to certain curation even with things like wholesale and trying to grab like a large scope of different types of items. That’s where majority of it is from us. Not to say that there’s not a lot of other different ways that other sellers find stuff.

Craig Patterson 4:09
And what kind of merchandise do you have? I know you are in the sneaker world do you have for more clothing as well in the stores? Or is it fairly casual?

David MacMullen 4:15
So for us, we opened up very close to McMaster so our whole business model has been more targeted to young adult. Some more casual store, like the street wear type style where it’s more simple things like crews, hoodies, sweaters, fleeces, jackets, pants, T shirts. Nothing typically into that semi formal stage and beyond. It isn’t something that we work in specifically. But obviously in the vintage space there’s people that cover those bases as well.

Craig Patterson 4:47
Amazing how are online sales doing and how was that journey to get online?

David MacMullen 4:51
When we first started the store we thought well everything will put on the floor, why not listed online at same time? And then has twice the chance of selling hypothetically. But what we found was it was almost too much where it’s obviously a lot of time to list vintage clothing. Whereas if you have like a T shirt brand or a sweater brand, where you’re posting up your design, everything’s the same. So you could just, like upload a picture of your shirt, and put the quantity at, let’s say, 100. Versus vintage clothing, everything is completely different. So each piece has to go through the time of measuring it taking proper photos of flaws, descriptions, etc. You want to be very ethical, when you sell stuff, you want people to know exactly what they’re buying. And the process just took a long time we were cross listing stuff. Meaning that something might sell online, and it had already sold in store, we just didn’t have the time to take it down. So that was problematic. For the first year, so we weren’t really selling online, because it was just too much to do both. We were fortunate to expand our team in the last few months that we are able to now basically take a separate inventory, where that’s only for online stuff and our store for only in person shopping. But since we’ve been starting, it’s really great because we’re able to offer merchandise to people who might follow our social media, or are interested in vintage clothing that aren’t local to Hamilton or even local to the GTA or where we do events. So it’s cool to see our items going over to the States, overseas, out west. But it’s been really good. We’re still figuring out that aspect because it has been only a few months. And but we do know like that is a huge portion for a lot of other people’s business models. And we’re just trying to learn and add that to our arsenal as well.

Craig Patterson 6:40
Amazing. Do you find luxury items in there from some of the big names when you’re searching for for product?

David MacMullen 6:45
Yeah. We don’t typically cater to luxury, because we know that’s a designer market is a different market entirely almost. But when you’re going through the amount of inventory we are some definitely sneak through. And because it’s not really our forte, we still like to price it pretty affordable. So it’s almost gives incentives for people to come in. And maybe they’ll find like an authentic Gucci product or a Chanel or something like that. And they get it for a really good price that they couldn’t even find online. If someone that specializes in Designer obviously, they’re going to price things according to market versus because that’s not our forte, we price it pretty cheap. And we’d like to make sure that it’s still authentic if we are gonna price things or we’ll basically brand something as like a bootleg or reprint just so people know what they’re getting.

Craig Patterson 7:39
I’ve gotta come to your store for some Gucci stuff. Generally talking about the resale market for clothing or vintage, where do you see things going? Just in your observation as you’ve been part of this.

David MacMullen 7:53
In Toronto, specifically, the competition definitely has came into play, like I know, during the boom of COVID, where we kind of got into things and hundreds of other people started doing it. Whether that started as like side jobs or full time jobs that they’ve been doing for like 10 years, everybody reaped the benefits of the popularity during COVID. Now the competition is definitely huge as far as the access to things like inventory, like I mentioned, for wholesale that we offered, because it’s not as easy as it used to be even two years ago to find stuff. So I find competition is coming into play. But also just different trends of people are now a lot more open to the idea of secondhand stuff and sustainability. I think a big part of that is because of celebrities, athletes that are also getting into that. So almost like where shopping secondhand might be looked down upon by some prior to this, because it’s almost like oh, you can’t afford the new stuff or whatever. But when you see millionaires wearing secondhand, it’s almost like becoming more acceptable. I think you see on big retailers, they’re almost using vintage inspired like military wear, or other like fashion trends to basically take the secondhand trends that might not be super accessible, like something like military jackets or whatever. The average person sees something that looks like that, you know, Zara or whatever, they’re just going to buy it. So it’s definitely influencing where trends go, as well as upcycling stuff where people are basically even taking items that are secondhand and making them wearable again, those rips or whatever, that they’re sewing stuff back together putting patches and it’s just becoming more acceptable to wear stuff like that and be more creative, I guess, with your outfits using that second hand outlet.

Craig Patterson 9:47
And the sustainability movement is probably going to continue. I mean, that’s just kind of what we’re seeing or hearing in the in terms of trends.

David MacMullen 9:56
I don’t think anyone would complain about vintage. There’s certain opinions on like the vintage selling as a whole. But I think everybody’s happy to see that the sustainability portion of any type of business is being being pushed more.

Craig Patterson 10:11
Right now, do you have a vision for a bit of a longer term vision for drop spot in terms of its operations, any new stores more wholesale accounts? Or tell me a little bit about what you’re thinking about?

David MacMullen 10:22
Yeah, for sure. Wholesale is definitely something that we’d love to offer for other stores, or just other accounts that like to do the vintage stuff. But I think definitely, primarily as a future goal, we want to expand a little bit more definitely another store. At the very minimum, the the notion of even seeing vintage in places like malls now is becoming more and more acceptable, like there’s been vintage stores in Square One and Yorkdale, you still have like even companies that are bigger, like, you know, Holt Renfrew that they have like some sellers that are in there. So I think we definitely would like to capitalize that eventually having a store in a mall. We’re also trying to build our own event brand as well. A lot of people probably in Toronto, would have already seen vintage markets are getting posted everywhere, they’re happening almost every weekend in big cities, not exclusively to Toronto, like out West that’s super popular. In the States as well. So we want to capitalize that just like how we feel that we do with our store. Have a very nice and curated kind of experience for people that are getting into vintage or people that have been enjoying vintage for a while that there’s like a market. Like we mentioned earlier website and online presence, we’re really trying to push that, as well as just the sustainability as a whole. Making that as accessible to people as we can. We have this one partner that we work with, they’re called One Tree Planted where basically every order that we ship out, we also donate to them so that they can plant a tree with each order. So we’re just trying to make sure as we grow, that we’re able to actually keep our roots of being sustainable as we grow type of deal.

Craig Patterson 12:17
I love it. This is so interesting, you know, best of luck with everything. Because as we look at sustainability becoming a key factor of many people’s lives, I think your business is is a good one for clothing at the very least.

David MacMullen 12:27
Yeah, for sure. I’m definitely I think with young people, at least I think it’s definitely reaching more people outside of just young adulthood as well. But it’s really cool to see that’s where the change in the acceptance is just like with young people, and it’s exciting to see like, where am I go from here?

Craig Patterson 12:45
Well, thank you so much. This has been David McMullen. He’s the co founder of Drop Spot Vintage. Thank you for joining us today.

David MacMullen 12:52
My pleasure, man.

Craig Patterson 12:53
And I’m Craig Patterson. I’m the founder and publisher of Retail Insider Media. This is the Retail Insider Video Interview Series. Please subscribe whether or not you’re seeing this on YouTube or listening to this on one of our podcast channels. Take care and bye for now.

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