The results are in! Thanks to all of you who completed our feedback survey – we appreciate the time it took. While most of you had many wonderful things to say (and we’re glad you had such a great time), we wanted to clear up a few questions that cropped up more than once:
Why is Re-Fashion Vancouver limited to clothing and footwear? Why no accessories?
We get this question a lot – and here’s why: take a moment to think about all the accessories you have that you never use and would likely want to unload. There’s a lot, isn’t there? Think of all the belts that come with a dress you buy, where you love the dress but don’t care much for the belt. Think of all the jewelry you’ve bought at places like Forever21 and Le Chateau that you no longer wear and want to sell. If we allowed accessories to be sold (handbags, sunglasses, jewelry, etc.), Re-Fashion Vancouver would suddenly change from being a clothing sale to being more of a trunkshow style flea market. There would be more bags and accessories than clothing and footwear, and that’s not what this event is about. This event is about giving a new home to your unworn clothing – your regret-purchases. There’s no where in Vancouver where you can re-sell your clothes that you’ve never worn effectively – but you can definitely take your accessories to various local markets and trunkshow sales and unload them successfully (assuming you aren’t selling a designer purse). In the case that you ARE selling a designer bag, you likely only have one or two, which is much easier to sell online than the stacks of unworn clothing you also want to cash-in on.
The other big reason for no accessories is that they have a much lower price-point you can sell them at. Unless you’re selling a Chanel bag that costs over $1,000, the majority of your accessories probably won’t fetch more than $20. That means it’ll take a lot more selling to make back your table fee!
The event’s success depends heavily on presentation – shoppers aren’t coming to Re-Fashion Vancouver looking for a flea-market vibe – they’re coming to something more akin to a warehouse sample sale. Tons of accessories doesn’t mesh with that clean, tidy look we’re going for.
Why was the event organized by sizes?
When you’re shopping, you’re looking for what’s in your size – there’s no point in looking at what won’t fit you. By organizing the event into sizes we made it easier for shoppers to go directly to what they knew would fit them, rather than have them going through entire racks of clothing before realizing that the clothing they were looking at would never fit them.
Why is Re-Fashion only in the Spring?
This was our first event, so without knowing whether it would be a success, we weren’t prepared to invest the time in planning another one immediately after. To plan a Fall event, we’d have to have started planning as soon as the Spring one was over, and we would have had to book the venue a year in advance. That simply wasn’t possible, so that’s why our next event is in the Spring of 2013. We’re hoping to have a Fall 2013 event too, but that’s not guaranteed at this point.
Why was there no menswear?
We didn’t actually make it a women-only event, we just figured that the majority of people interested in the event would be women – and we were right. We had a handful of guys ask if they could take part, and we were honest – we told them we couldn’t guarantee a huge turn out of men. The way we did our logo and marketed the event, was much more geared towards women. That’s not necessarily how our next event will be – we definitely want to have something for the boys!
How do you come up with the cost for sellers?
To give you an idea of what it costs to put on an event like Re-Fashion Vancouver, here are some basic numbers to think about. Renting the Roundhouse on a Saturday costs around $3,100. Renting 60 clothing racks, rails, tables, mirrors and changerooms cost us around $1,300. (If you’re keeping track, we’re now up to $4,400). Add to that the cost of insurance and licenses, printing postcards and flyers, rack signs for clothing sizes, seller, sponsor and staff badges, media wall, photographers, website hosting, snacks for the volunteers, and a ton of other miscellaneous costs you would never think of (like stamps for admission or a clicker to count how many people come in – who would have thought of that?) and it adds up. The event cost us around $5,600 to put on by the time we had bought everything. The seller spaces were $60 – meaning the most we were able to make from our sellers towards our costs was $3,600 (60 x $60). That means that we had an additional $2,000 to make up for in admission fees (which was $3). At the end of the day, we had just over 800 people through the door, bringing in an additional (800 x $3) $2,400. That brings us to a grand total of $6,000. Now remember how much the event cost in hard costs to put on? Yup, that’s right, after all was said and done, we just managed to recover our hard costs. Now imagine how much time goes in to planning an event like this (designing a website, facebook page and other marketing materials, doing all the graphic design for the posters, flyers, badges, media wall, creating seller application forms, securing sponsors, logistically planning how to lay out the venue with the most effective use of space, answering hundreds of emails from prospective sellers, communicating with sellers with everything from tips on how to sell to logistics for the day of the event, contacting press and securing media coverage, and promoting the event on all social media channels) – we easily spent more than 100 hours each working to put this event together (and we both work full time, so that meant we got home from work at 5pm and were working from 5:30pm-1:00am on Re-Fashion Vancouver). So for a modest estimate, lets say that’s 100 hours each (believe me it was way more), and lets be very conservative and only pay ourselves minimum wage, which is $9.50/hr (and that’s being very modest, given that you wouldn’t pay a graphic designer, an event planner, a community manager or a PR manager minimum wage) and we’ve got about $1,900 in working hours. But we didn’t make $7,500, remember, we made around $6,000. So we didn’t pay ourselves a dime. We did this as a labour of love, and worked for free. Would you work for free? Probably not. But we did, because this is something we believe in and we know the city needs – and it was a super cool learning experience and a heck of a lot of fun when it all came together.
So now lets go back to those seller fees – if we were looking to make even a modest profit on the event, we should have been charging around double that to our sellers. But we know that our sellers aren’t professional vendors like the type who spend over $600 to sell at a craft fair – we know that they simply wouldn’t pay more than $100 for an event that’s new and they’ve never been to, with no guarantees that people will show up to shop. So we bit the bullet. There you have it – we’re very open and honest about our costs because we have nothing to hide – when we say that we aren’t doing this to make a profit, we mean it – we just want to cover our costs (and maybe next time pay our volunteers with something more than granola bars!).
What are you going to change for the next Re-Fashion Vancouver?
Lots! Remember, this was our first crack at it – and 800 people through the door in one day is pretty darn good for a first-time event! But we know what could have been done better, the only way to learn is through experience. We’re reworking the changing room system, looking to have more mirrors, clearer signage about sizing, and a much better system for trying clothing on so that sellers can keep track of their clothing. That’s just a few things – we have a ton more in store, you’ll have to see for yourself in the Spring 2013 event.
It’s funny – when we asked people what they’d like to see done differently, what some people didn’t like, others loved, and vice versa. We can’t please everyone, we can only try to put on the best event possible for the most amount of people, and from the feedback, we were successful. We look forward to improving each and every time until Re-Fashion Vancouver is THE event you look forward to!
If you have any comments, feel free to leave them on this post or email me directly, at victoria(at)refashionvancouver.com