Instagram Is the Thrift Store of the Future

Screenshot of the popular Instagram Thrift service Courtyard LA.

Instagram accounts filled with stylish color-coordinated mood images and product photos have been popping up from around the globe — offering one-of-a-kind items styled to entice. Accounts of this style have piqued the interest of thousands of people. U.S.-based store, Good Shop Bad Shop (@gs__bs) has almost 34,000 followers, Spain based Les Fleurs Studio (@lesfleurstudio) has over 30,000 followers. Since the medium of these stores is so casual, specifying location is not essential. Traveling store, The Zoo (@the___zoo), has over 9,000 followers, Na Nin Vintage vintage (@naninvintage) — without a specified location — has 176,000 followers.

With all of these people paying attention to Insta-shops, it makes you wonder if anyone is actually buying from these niche stores.  Stern sophomore Paige Yoo, though she admits that she follows thrift accounts for inspiration, made her first purchase during her first semester at NYU. She bought from Courtyard La (@courtyard_la) a well-established Insta-shop with over 123,000 followers and almost 4,000 posts, the account has expanded to a website and has listed customer service hours in their bio. The account features iconic vintage pieces gathered from the Los Angeles area — where the store is based. In addition to product photos the account posts aesthetically on brand photos of flowers, dogs and architecture.

Thought Yoo is happy with her purchase — a pair of vintage Levi’s and a yellow ringer tee — she had a lot to say on the capability of the business model and the pricing.

“I try not to buy too many things from IG thrift stores because they are not cheap by any means.” She confesses adding logistical concerns as well. “They are usually less reliable and have less buyer-protection than vendors selling from sites like Etsy or Depop.”

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Though she believes the business model is low risk if you’re just starting out, Paige shares her apprehensions. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to start an Instagram store right now just because the platform is saturated with so many new ones that put a lot of effort into their content/merchandise and still aren’t doing very well due to intense competition.”

CAS sophomore Frances Caflisch started her own Instagram store (@franssellingclothes) over the summer to earn some extra cash before coming back to New York. Caflisch chose to embrace a small scale Instagram operation, rather than to deal with larger audiences on resale sites.

“I didn’t want the hassle of sending packages through the mail to strangers,” Caflisch explained. “With Instagram, I could just sell to friends who lived a short drive away from me.”

She describes going through a full closet purge and realizing that some items that she once loved — and spent money on — could be worth at least a bit of money.  

“There were definitely some clothes that I was surprised I even had in my closet still,” Caflisch said. “And because I priced things pretty low I sold over 30 out of the 45 items I had.”

Her bio claims that she is willing to sell all of her items between $3.00 and $15.00 — a competitive price in comparison to most Insta-shops, with items that go for hundreds of dollars.

“I wouldn’t necessarily qualify it as fun,” Caflisch said. “But I came away with a little over $200, much more than I’d expected.”

Email Amanda Burkett at [email protected]

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