Viviene: How did you first become involved in vintage clothing?
Marge: I was surfing around the discussion boards on Ebay and found the Vintage Clothing and Accessory Board. I started lurking on the board and soaking up knowledge from all the seasoned sellers there.
Viviene: How long after that did you actually buy your first piece of vintage clothing?
Marge: I kept lurking and reading and learning for a year or so. Then I found a great dress and coat set from the 1960s in beautiful condition. I still have that set and I'm actually getting ready to list it right now. That's when I actually came out of lurker mode and posted on the board the first time.
Viviene: So in total how long have you been admiring vintage attire and how long have you been selling it?
Marge: I've been admiring it and learning about it for the last 4 years and selling it for almost 3 years now. There is always more to learn and people are very willing to help you out.
Viviene: When you buy a piece of vintage clothing what do you do to prepare it for sale?
Marge: Well, the first thing I do when I'm choosing stock is make sure it is in excellent condition. Or if a piece speaks to me I have to make sure that I can repair it so that it's restored to its once wonderful condition. Then I research the style to make sure of what era the piece is from. If the item has a label with some type of name on it then I check the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource to see if I can match labels and again verify an era. I also look at the construction of the item, i.e. metal zipper, nylon zipper, fabric content, pinked seams, etc. There are lots of different indicators of what era a piece is from.
Viviene: Once you've done all that what is your next step?
Marge: Then I clean the item, steam or iron the item and then the next step is taking pictures to present the item to my customers. I definitely take a lot of pictures to show all the different specifics of an item such as pocket details, type of zipper, linings, pinked seams and any other specifics that I think are selling points for each particular piece. Then once my photos are taken and edited I measure the items. Measurements are so important in vintage items because size tags are not good indicators as sizes have changed so very much. Women of today don't wear support garments like those made years and years ago. That definitely alters the way a vintage clothing item is going to fit.
Viviene: So once your item is chosen, cleaned, pressed, pictures taken and measurements taken I take it your next step is to list it.
Marge: That's right. That's my favorite part of selling vintage. I love writing descriptions of the vintage clothing I'm selling. If I have a designer label I include the history of the designer at the end of my description. I like to think that people who are new to vintage would value learning about the designer of the item they are looking at. I took my lead from experienced sellers who took the time to educate me by telling me about the designer of their item. I've learned a lot just by reading that information.
Viviene: You mentioned the label resource of the Vintage Fashion Guild. How important has that resource been to you as a seller?
Marge: It's been the base that I've used to learn about different designers, construction details and so much more. The Vintage Fashion Guild has afforded me an education in vintage clothing and accessories that I would not have found anywhere else other than that I picked up from the Ebay Vintage clothing and accessory board. I became a member of the VFG in July of 2006 and I am a very proud member of this esteemed group of vintage sellers and collectors. I appreciate the knowledge of the members there so very much. They have all been very welcoming and very helpful.
Viviene: How did you choose your store name "Born Too Late Vintage?"
Marge: Well, my husband and I have both said that we were born at the wrong time in history. We both love the 1950s and 1960s and have always felt we were born too late so that's where the name came from.
Viviene: What lead you to become a co-moderator of the vintage and antique clothing section at Specialist Auctions?
Marge: Well things have been changing at Ebay over time and unfortunately those things are out of the control of the sellers at large. I grew tired of having my vintage clothing competing with reproductions that were listed in the vintage categories when there is a reproduction category provided. I'm not against reproductions, but rather want them to be presented as such in their appropriate category. So I decided to give another venue a try. I did that for six months but wanted to take my business in a different direction than that venue offered so a friend, Margaret Bolger, who owns Artizania Vintage, asked me to come over the Specialist Auctions as the co-moderator of the vintage and antique section and I accepted.
Viviene: How is Specialist Auctions different from what you've dealt with at Ebay?
Marge: Well for one thing, there are moderators for each section. One of the responsibilities of the moderator is to police their section to make sure that what is offered is authentic. If we see an item that is a reproduction for example, we will contact the seller and have them move their item where it belongs.
Another thing that the moderators are doing in the vintage and antique clothing section is promoting the sellers of their category.
We have a myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/specialistauctionsvintage where we preview items in our sellers stores and listings. Each month we have a theme and present the items that are listed that pertain to that theme. Every seller we have has a different way of presenting their items. It's refreshing to see so many different ideas. We welcome anyone who would like to come over to the site and list items or even open a store if they wish.
I also have a blog called http://alwaysplayingdressup.blogspot.com/. I have been featuring interviews of different sellers at Specialist Auctions. This allows our potential customers and return customers to get to know the sellers better. It's also been very interesting for me to learn more about the sellers as well.
Viviene: What is another difference between Ebay and Specialist Auctions?
Marge: Well, a big difference is the fee schedule. Your listings on Ebay are charged for as are your store fees. Whether you sell an item or not you incur fees.
At Specialist Auctions, there are no listing fees or store fees. There is a flat rate valuation fee of 3% regardless of what your item sells for and that fee is only charged once you actually sell something. So if you have a store and list say 100 items and sell nothing you have no fees to pay.
Viviene: I understand you also have a contemporary store as well called Mirror Image Boutique.
Marge: Yes I do. I decided to branch out a bit and sell excellent quality modern clothing as well. Both my stores are located at Specialist Auctions and I also have my own website at http://www.borntoolatevintage.com and http://www.mirrorimageboutique.com.
Viviene: So come check out Marge's stores "Born Too Late Vintage" and "Mirror Image Boutique" at Specialist Auctions: