Rifling via garments hangers to search out secondhand ’90s t-shirts, basic Levi’s jorts, heavy-duty army jackets and comfy grandma sweaters can typically be a shot at midnight.
So when Michael and Kevin Dong — now 26 and 27, respectively — opened up Paisley Classic in downtown Berkeley in August 2021, they wished to make the percentages of a profitable thrift much less like getting fortunate on the on line casino and extra like a curated procuring expertise.
Regardless of coinciding with the continuing decline of brick-and-mortar retail shops after the pandemic, the brothers, who grew up close to Harmony and are at the moment dwelling in Oakland, reworked a years-long interest right into a worthwhile day job — largely due to a twin presence in on-line retailers like Depop, eBay and Poshmark.
As Paisley Classic quickly approaches its second anniversary of being open for enterprise at 2181 Bancroft Means, only one block west of UC Berkeley’s campus, Michael Dong displays on the enterprise’ beginnings, how tech has been a boon for gross sales and what their patrons can uncover on the racks.
Q: Headlines about bodily shops stuttering appear to be unending. What made you each need to dive in and take the chance?
A: I really feel very lucky, as a result of so many issues simply labored out in our favor. We began critically contemplating the thought when our mother informed us that we higher cease joking about it across the finish of 2020. We weren’t rich, however had some financial savings from our prior jobs, and sadly when the pandemic hit, a major variety of companies round downtown Berkeley needed to shut down — opening up many industrial leases which are usually by no means out there, particularly pre-pandemic. Once we discovered this spot, we simply cherished it. Whereas we actually couldn’t (predict our success) with every part that was taking place on the time, the place had been vacant for nearly a 12 months and we received a reasonably good low cost.
We truly give up fairly stable, protected careers at engineering corporations to do that, so we knew we would have liked to do it proper. It was nonetheless a bit bit scary, however I feel a part of it was that we’re not breaking the mildew by way of being the primary classic store in Berkeley or something. Rising up as East Bay youngsters, we have been tremendous accustomed to Berkeley’s status and knew these companies might succeed right here.
Q: How did you two attempt to set Paisley Classic aside from different present thrift shops?
A: After I speak to younger adults or highschool college students, which is almost all of our customers, I hear how secondhand procuring these days at Goodwill or Salvation Military is completely totally different than a couple of years in the past. My brother and I used to go to 4 or 5 shops within the 2010s and will most likely replenish the entire trash bag with clothes for $40 or $50 bucks. Now, you’d be joyful to search out solely 5 to eight issues for that very same journey. And on the increased finish of the spectrum, within the actually curated classic shops that you simply may discover in San Francisco or Los Angeles, you may seize a t-shirt that’s $65 or $70.
I feel that’s form of a stigma with classic shops; if you wish to pay for a curated procuring expertise, it’s going to be tremendous costly. We’re form of in that center floor, the place it’s nearly like an actual life on-line store. We wished to create a retailer that’s already curated however isn’t a spot the place you must break the financial institution to snag one thing you actually like.
We don’t actually store at thrift shops anymore, however we’ll go to vintage markets or swap meets at totally different flea markets all around the Bay Space. We’ve met lots of associates within the classic or secondhand clothes group that assist hold a pleasant stability of various, distinctive issues within the store. I can solely rely perhaps lower than 10 situations the place we truly bought the identical merchandise twice.
Q: How does tech play into this enterprise mannequin?
A: Our customers are at all times wanting to see what new issues we now have in each day and week, so we at all times suggest trying out our Depop store, the place we now have a pair thousand gadgets listed on there. What’s cool is that if somebody sees one thing on considered one of our platforms, they’ll truly come into the shop and check out it on — with no obligation to purchase something.
However that’s normally a tough component with on-line procuring; even should you actually like an merchandise, you don’t know the way it’s going to suit, and should you’re shopping for from small sellers, it’s probably not simple to do a return or refund. Whereas with (solely bodily retailers) you actually don’t know. You possibly can commit an hour-and-a-half inside a retailer and nonetheless not discover something.
After I used to buy on Depop, eBay, Grailed and all these secondhand websites with my roommates and associates in school, we used to spend approach an excessive amount of cash, but it surely helped us discover the kind of kinds we have been on the lookout for. Kevin and I attempted to take that component of the expertise with us. We’re very organized and provides all of our gadgets a SKU system quantity, so we are able to shortly discover it and determine it if it sells on a single platform and take away it from the others. If we weren’t doing that, I feel enterprise can be so much more durable.
Q: What does it imply to you to have the ability to function within the Bay Space as a household enterprise?
A: I simply really feel very lucky that I get to do one thing I like with my brother. My sister’s pandemic interest was making little crochet plushies and keychains, so we now have a bit show for her on the entrance shelf the place she will promote these, and my dad collects little classic toys that we promote all through the shop, as nicely. It’s a totally encompassed household enterprise, which I actually love.
My dad’s a real collector; once we have been rising up, we’d at all times go to storage gross sales and thrift shops on the lookout for something from comedian books to toys to cookie jars — actually something. We’d spend our Saturday mornings simply driving round to different individuals’s locations. As a child in the event that they didn’t have toys, I didn’t actually need to simply wait round for my him, however as soon as I actually began entering into clothes close to the tip of center faculty into highschool, that was reversed; I then pressured my dad to tug me out to thrift shops and flea markets.
All of us strive to herald the perfect stuff and hold costs cheap, and we’re gonna hold doing that so long as we are able to. Even when I don’t assume I’d put on it myself, if an merchandise places a smile on somebody’s face after they scroll via the rack and pull it out, I simply assume that’s fairly cool. I really feel very lucky that we get to do one thing that we love, and I’m not going to take it without any consideration.
MICHAEL AND KEVIN DONG
Title: Co-owners of Paisley Classic
Ages: 26 and 27
Residence: Oakland; grew up close to Harmony
Schooling: Each brothers graduated from UCLA, the place Michael studied biomedical engineering and Kevin studied mechanical engineering.
FAST FACTS ABOUT PAISLEY VINTAGE AND ITS OWNERS
- Michael’s fave private discover is a ’60s-era Union type work jacket that “matches completely;” Kevin adores an old-fashioned Warriors jersey he discovered that’s good game-day apparel
- The Bancroft Means constructing can inventory as much as 900 gadgets between the storefront racks and arranged storage downstairs
- Trend initiatives from artists like Tyler the Creator and Pharrell typically catch the duo’s consideration
- The shop’s title was chosen to convey the gender impartial type of clothes inside, whereas additionally honoring the brothers’ nostalgia of the paisley shirts their father would typically put on
- Paisley Classic posts clothes on the market on-line on Depop, eBay, Grailed, Mercari, Poshmark and Instagram