076: T-Shirt Aficionado – Chris Koenig

Chris is a former “Corporate America” office drone who turned a passion for old T-shirts into a thriving work-from-home business.

Interesting Notes

  • Chris used to collect baseball cards when he was a kid. Now, he collects vintage T-shirts. He loves the thrill of going out and find something rare and cool.
  • Chris first experience of selling on eBay is a halloween costume of Mater from Cars. He bought it for $50 and put if for auction. It sold for $73.
  • During his college days, Chris worked in The Buckle, a clothing company. There, he learned the ROYGB system – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Violet, Black, and Blue. Now, he organizes his T-shirts by the ROYGB system.
  • Chris can tell by the tag if the T-shirt is original and vintage. Sometimes, there is a copyright date in tags. He can also tell by the material consistency. Materials on the 80's are 50-50 Polycotton. He can tell by the way it feels.
  • For sourcing, Chris goes to thrift stores. But, he started thinking of new ways to find his items. He tries to get them before they go to the thrift stores. Like putting an ad in the paper like Craigslist.
  • He buys T-shirts even with stains! He does not wash them because he does not want to hurt the integrity of the shirt. Experience has shown him that the more stains a T-shirt have, the more valuable it is. It is worth as much as somebody is willing to pay for. For a one-of-a-kind look stained shirt, somebody would spend money to pay for it.
  • Chris sees T-shirts as an investment. He does not get worried if his shirts will not sell in 6 months. He believes it would sell in the end.
  • He has a lot of vintage sports T-shirts. He believes that what may not be selling well this year might sell on the world series next year.
  • In pricing his items, Chris does a little research. He came up with a system where his based price is $29.99 for those he does not know how to price. Then, he will observe how well it goes for the first couple of months. He would either bring it down and put it on sale. Or, do a buy it now and see what happens.
  • He has established an inventory system. He puts dates on hangers, and organizes the T-shirts by colors. He records his items on a spreadsheet to know what sells. The spreadsheet also shows how much money he made from each T-shirt.
  • It takes a couple of days for Chris to complete the entire process. He usually accumulates 50 T-shirts to organize, take pictures, lists, and posts.
  • He tends to put the ones he likes the most first or the ones he thinks will worth the most money. He has recently bought 800 T-shirts.
  • Chris does a free shipping on everything but T-shirts. He has a set system for T-shirts. That is $4 dollar shipping and handling for T-shirts. He does this because he wants his buyers to think that he really goes out of the way to pack the shirts.
  • He creates the experience of buying a T-shirt from him as a pleasurable one. When someone gets the package, it is not all crumbled. Instead, it is wrapped in tissue paper with a HolyIdeasTees sticker. In it is a handwritten note from him that says “Thank You!” He adds an offer of 25% off if the buyer posts Chris' shirts on his/her social media accounts.
  • Chris has been selling on eBay for only 3 years. He runs a one-man show business. His sole employee is a barbie doll named barbthemodel. Barbthemodel only task is to point out the stains on the shirts. Chris employs this tactic to create a fun experience to his listings.
  • He has a T-shirt nerd website. He blogs to show he knows about vintage and his items are real vintage. This way, he develops and builds trust and credibility with the buyers.
  • To date, Chris has 2300 vintage T-shirts. He started wearing his shirts around in order to advertise his business.
  • Chris believes that his items are rare. One doesn't know how many of them are produced. One doesn't know the whole history, and that makes it rare.
  • His goal is to make his business something big — the biggest vintage T- shirt supplier online.

Quotes

  • “Picking a T-shirt is an art!”
  • “I didn't start selling T-shirt on eBay. I just kind of started messing around!”
  • “I enjoyed because of the nostalgia.”
  • “The mere reason that I am here right now is because I love what I do.”
  • “You have to love what you do!”
  • “If you love what you do, you are always pushing to be better at it.”

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