Community | Entrepreneurship

Getting Thrifty in the D: Detroit's Resale Revolution

This post is the first in a series written in partnership with I Am Young Detroit. I Am Young Detroit is part of I Am Young America, a social enterprise that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a means to combat unemployment and boost economic impact in cities. Their mission is to help revitalize American cities by empowering young entrepreneurs to launch businesses and mobilize citizens everywhere to champion them. Posts will follow the stories of young entrepreneurs in Detroit and how they’re making their mark on the city.

A thrifty revolution is starting right here in our own backyard. Your “trash” could soon become someone else’s treasure as thrift, vintage, and consignment stores continue to sprout up around Detroit. THRIFT on the AVE, Eldorado General Store, Savvy Gents, and Detroit Clothing Circles are a few of the most recent. All of them with their own unique take on resale.

THRIFT keeps it modern and upscale, while Savvy Gents focuses on re-purposing, and mixing the old with new. Detroit Clothing Circles combines vintage with high end, while Eldorado’s keen on found objects and decor. But why the sudden interest in thrift?

“We wanted to offer the market an enhanced version of resale,” said R. Christopher Prater of THRIFT on the AVE. “We saw that thrift and resale stores weren’t always befitting and reflect the appointments that the new thrifter and resale shopper expect.”

Erin Gavle, founder of Eldorado, was inspired by her love for travel and her knack for finding unique curiosities. She left her New York City advertising job to move back home to Michigan to pursue her passion.

“My expertise is in treasure hunting, or as I’ve labeled it ­’trinketeering’. I figured out how to combine the things I’ve always loved doing to create a job that fit around the lifestyle, priorities and structure that are important to me.”

It doesn’t look like the trend is ending anytime soon. Young, aspiring Detroit entrepreneurs like Denice Burnett see an opportunity in “thrifty business”, with low startup costs and the promise of turning a favorite pastime into a career. “My grandmother collected antiques…she definitely played a huge part in my love for vintage,” she explains. “I’m starting a vintage store because I already have one in my closet!”

The 24 year old works as a part-time natural hair stylist, but has been working on launching an online and pop-up vintage clothing business from her Midtown apartment. “I’ve been working on my business for about a year now,” she explains. “So far I have inventory, and I have my LLC–it’s not much but I’m still building the foundation while working to support myself.”

Denice plans on becoming a member of I Am Young Detroit, and taking online classes to jump start her business. “There’s tons to do–marketing stuff, photo-shoots, booking models, and developing a solid business plan. I have my work cut out for me. I hope to find mentors who can help give me some guidance.”

Each week I hear stories like Denice’s: young people who are looking to break free from their regular jobs and find their own thing so that they can really begin to live fully. It begins with discovering your entrepreneurial passion and finding a need in an existing area of business, like resale, or creating a new one. Visit I Am Young Detroit to find these and other inspiring stories, resources, and tools for discovering and igniting your entrepreneurial passion.