While in-person thrifting has become challenging as a result of the pandemic, online resale, which makes it easier for users to find one-of-a-kind pieces without the in-person hunt, is thriving. In particular, Depop — a peer-to-peer online marketplace, where you can find your dream pair of vintage Levi’s or the perfect chunky ‘90s boots in a few swipes — has been on the rise for the last few years. In large part that’s thanks to Gen Z, its largest audience, who both shop and sell on the platform.
In its popularity, the social shopping app has become a space for users to start their own successful businesses. Even high-fashion brands like Rodarte and Annu Sui have joined the shopping app as sellers. With over 21 million users, there’s almost always a new shop popping up, and it can be difficult to stand out — especially as a secondhand retailer.
Ahead, tips on how you can build a secondhand Depop shop — directly from sellers.
Establish your aesthetic
Jess Renzelman, 26, from Portland, Oregon, started her Depop shop in 2018 after she (like many on the app) began to sell pieces from her own closet. Soon, she grew her inventory by buying items to resell, though everything she sources remains true to her style. “I was never really thinking about resale value or what was trendy, [I was] looking for quirky and colorful prints that I would personally wear,” she tells Refinery29. “If you’re genuinely into the items you’re picking and have a point-of-view, odds are there’s someone else out there who will appreciate it." Renzelman’s shop, Baby Face, has 18k followers and is scattered with printed blouses, long dresses, and kitschy purses. While she notes which items and brands sell best, “the basis for my shop is the same [as it was in the beginning] — source what you love.”
Another Depop seller, 23-year-old DeJanir Green, from Reading, Pennsylvania, started her shop in 2019 after leaving college. “I was going to the thrift store probably three to five times a week. I started posting the items, and [my shop] took off,” she tells Refinery29. Green’s shop, Thick Mint, is a mix of trendy Y2K sportswear and vintage ‘90s pieces — two genres that are currently popular on the app. She started sourcing items that she would wear, but quickly expanded her search. “I realized there were clothes, that, even though I wouldn't wear them, I knew someone would love it,” she says.
Mia O’Neal, a 19-year-old seller, from Southern California, launched her Depop shop, Juice Rack, in the summer of 2019 while doing a closet cleanout. “I vividly remember the joy I felt when I got my first sale because I didn’t believe anyone would want my old clothes. Eventually, sales started to pour in, and it took off from there,” she tells Refinery29. As her sales grew, O’Neal started outsourcing items from places like estate sales and secondhand shops. “I try to pick up pieces that fit my personal style, while being aware of what sells and what’s trending at the time,” she says.
O'Neal says that establishing your shop’s style and aesthetic is key to bringing in customers. “I look for fun prints and colorful pieces. If it doesn’t bring me joy, I leave it for someone else to find,” she says. This extends to the appearance of the shop, too. “Work on your branding,” she advises. “Since [Depop] is heavily reliant on visuals and aesthetics, having visually attractive pictures is pretty crucial.” For example, O’Neal’s shop features light, lacy backdrops, muted tones, and naturally lit photos. Renzelman shoots all her pieces in front of a bright pink background. That said, having bright lighting goes a long way.
Optimize the listing
Since Green started her shop, she’s created a checklist for listing items. “I take the maximum number of pictures that you can upload,” she explains. “[In the listing] I'll include the color, the item description, the sizing, if it's vintage or Y2K, etc.”
In addition to including other details like brand and condition (be honest about this one), according to Green, it's good to include hashtags, ranging from the label name to the decade the item is from, to increase an item’s exposure to general searches on the app. “I also include measurements on my listings because it reduces the messages you’ll get from customers and gives people a better idea of how the item will fit, since vintage sizing can be all over the place,” Renzelman says.
Just like with the shop's offerings, Renzelman says it's important to have a consistent style to the listings (this is where having a checklist helps). “Modeling definitely helps, too. People understand the fit of items better and it puts a personal creative touch,” she says.
Have consistent stock
Depending on how busy she is, O’Neal aims to list at least 10 items per week, but 30 items on a "good" week. “I try to update my shop with three to six new items every day to keep things fresh and coming up on the feed,” says Renzelman. “If you can keep adding new items regularly, people will know you’re active and take you seriously. They’ll also keep checking in to see what you’ve added, and you can get regular customers.”
To keep her shop fresh, she sources items according to the season and what’s trending. “I just did a Valentine’s Day collection with lots of slips, silky blouses, and floral dresses,” she says.
As with most of the vintage industry, it can be hard to find plus sizes within Depop's selection, too. As such, sellers should aim to be as size-inclusive as possible with their range of offerings.
As a plus-size woman, Green wanted to bring trendier styles for all with her shop: “I see so many trends. Like the 2000s fashion is coming back — it's cute, and so many people love it. But there's not a lot of options for plus-size women.” When Green searched for plus-size clothing on Depop, the results didn’t feel modern or wearable. “I wanted to list clothing that plus-size women actually want to wear,” she says.
Items on Renzelman’s shop go up to 3XL. “I’m a huge believer that there should be fun and exciting clothing for all bodies,” she says. “When sourcing, I pick items I like, regardless of the size, but I also actively look out for sizes that are harder to find.”
It’s also important to think about the purpose of selling larger sizes. “There’s a problem with people selling plus-size clothing to straight-sized people, either by reworking it to fit smaller sizes or calling it ‘oversized,’ which is offensive and takes those items away from people who need those sizes,” explains Renzelman. “People shouldn’t shy away from selling sizes that are different from their own but be conscious about how they sell them." For items that don’t fit the seller, she suggests finding friends who can model them or using a flat lay photo.
Source and price fairly
Depop has also witnessed gentrification on the platform, as sellers list their low-priced thrifted finds with inflated prices — preventing buyers who seek out secondhand items because of their lower price tag from being able to buy them — and cleaning out inventory at thrift stores in places where people need affordable clothing the most. With this in mind, it's important to consider where you're are sourcing your clothing from and being mindful. Same goes with pricing. “Some sellers, especially on Depop, overprice items way above their market values... [but] they do not represent all of us,” says O’Neal.
As a seller, it can be difficult to find a balance: to sell items for a fair price while also trying to make a profit. “I try my best to work with the person if they send me an offer,” Green explains. “But I can't sell an item for super low or the price I got it for at the thrift store because it is a business... I want to sell [an item] for what I think it's worth.”
Some factors to take into consideration include the item’s market value, as well as any additional upfront costs you may have had to incur. “Sellers have to take into account all the steps that went into getting that item to the customer — sourcing, cleaning, mending, photographing, measuring, researching, listing, customer service, shipping. Depop also takes a 10% transaction fee,” she explains. “[Buyers are] paying for the convenience of [sellers] sifting through the plethora of clothing waste out there, to bring [buyers] the best of the best.”