Urgent Delivery Leads To Lifelong Memories

“Your Buyer Opened A Case Against You”

These aren’t words I like to see in the header of an email.

Usually, someone hasn’t received their vintage T-shirt (thanks USPS) or their tee arrived damaged (thanks again, USPS). Things happen. What can I do? Quite simply, I handle it as politely and as professionally as I can.

On this day, I quickly reviewed the case and found the buyer hadn’t changed his mailing address when ordering his vintage tee. It had been sent back to my P.O. box. The email was wrought with panic: “Definitely need this by Saturday!” it said.

This wasn’t the first time a buyer needed something urgently. However, Saturday was less than 48 hours away so I’d have to get it out quickly. Vintage tee in hand, I rushed to the post office a little before 4 p.m. and got it sent out with expedited shipping. It was almost a guarantee to get there on Saturday.

I messaged the buyer to let him know all was well and his package was on its way.

This was the item:

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In my business, I get thrills from a number of things. Finding valuable tees in unexpected places is one. Giving old T-shirts new life is another. Getting a handsome return on an investment is a monetary thrill. But making someones day is priceless.

This is the message I received back from my new friend Patrick:

“Chris  — what an awesome, comforting response.  U r dealing with a 75 year old IT novice.  I am blown away by ur response, chris.  cannot thank u enough.  This is a brothers four tee. U r probably too young to know of them, but they are my all time favorite group, and my grandkids know all their songs.  We are going to a brothers four concert on sunday, and they were going to sign and present this tee to my granddaughter. U literally saved the day, Chris!!  So very refreshing to deal w/folks like u!!

I don’t why, but good customer service is rare. However, I pride myself on it. I’ve lived my whole life around the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” By taking the extra steps to ensure Patrick’s vintage T-shirt got to him on time, I literally “saved the day”. I gotta say, that’s an unforgettable thrill.

Patrick kept me up-to-date and gave me a little more background once the tee got to him in time for the concert:

Hi, Chris. Some background– at a prior concert, one of the brothers four– Mike Mccoy– took a liking to my grandson, who knows all the words to all their songs. During the concert, grandson Luca was singing along in his usual animated fashion. The bros 4 noticed this, and wanted to make a guitar for my grandson.  Since they are a vintage folk group from the 50’s– 60’s, it was highly unusual for one so young to know their music. So, Mike Mccoy wanted to make and present this guitar to Luca. That blew us away, but we did not want my granddaughter, Magda, left out.  Hence, my quest for the T-shirt.  Everyone, esp. the bros 4, were blown away by the shirt.  So, Chris, many many many thanx for ur considerable part in making this happen!

 

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Luca, Magda, A Really Cool Vintage T-Shirt, and the Brothers Four

The great thing about selling vintage tees is that the buyer often has an emotional connection to the shirt. I hardly ever get to know what that connection is, however. In this case, because of the care I put into it, I got to hear a wonderful and heartwarming story of a simple T-shirt literally bringing people together.

When I started this little vintage T-shirt company three years ago, I did it with a goal to show love in what I did. I know that sounds silly when talking about selling old T-shirts, but it’s true. What I’ve come to see is the love in every emotional connection with a T-shirt. The buyer “loves this band” or “loved that TV show” or “loved this brand when they were a kid”, etc. So I treat every package with love and as if it’s going to someone like Patrick every single time.

Low-Balling Feels More Like Blue Balling

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Inevitably when you sell things in an open marketplace, you’re going to have those consumers who think they may just slip one by you and get something you’re selling on the cheap.

They might offer me $15 on an item I have priced for $100, or just offer me the option to discount a newly listed item for them because I’m not trying to make a living doing this or anything:

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Now, I utilize eBays “Best Offer” option on some of my listings for any number of reasons. I may purposefully price an item higher than I think it’s worth to draw in offers and get the price I really want OR I could mess around and sell it for higher than I anticipated it being worth.

Whatever the case may be, I always get someone who makes it feel as though I’m being “teased” (thus the blue balls reference) with an offer that’s WAAAAAAYYY below what I hope to get for it which makes me think to myself, “Why? Why are you an asshole ‘Person On The Other End Of This Message’?”

Maybe it’s just a cultural thing?

Maybe it’s just someone testing me to see if I’m on the other end?

Maybe they just forgot to add another digit to that offer?

Maybe… well… maybe they’re just an asshole! Maybe some people can’t appreciate how hard it is to find quality vintage T-shirts and feel the need to be “That Person Who Can’t Appreciate How Hard It Is To Find Quality Vintage T-Shirts”?

To those people: I’m sorry for being an asshole about your asshole-y tendencies.

To everyone else: don’t lowball people. It just makes you look like an asshole.

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VTV Work Cribs

I don’t know if you knew this, but I earned a Broadcast Communications degree from an established University. Unfortunately, I didn’t nurture or use my skills for years.

“There’s no money in it.” I would always tell myself.

I just realized something: it’s not about the money.

It’s just a good time. Let’s see what kinda story’s come out of it.

These Vintage Mickey Tees Look The Same! Why Are They Priced Different?

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Outside of one being black and one being gray, what do you say the difference is?

The standard Mickey Mouse tee is perhaps one of the most overproduced T-shirts out there. I recently went to Disneyland several months ago and there was absolutely no shortage of Mickey tees wandering around the park.

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1st and quite possibly the last

So, if everybody has a Mickey tee, what makes the two tees above so damn special?

Well, the black one on the left is from the 80s. I know this because it’s a Stedman brand, 50/50 poly/cotton tee.

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It’s not super rare, but it is somewhat hard to find and is in awesome condition so I have it priced reasonably at 39.99.

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Click to see in store

Now, the one on the right is quite special.

Before I tell you why, understand that in the history of people collecting things, no one has ever wanted a reproduction. The most sought after items are the originals.

First edition Harry Potter books can sell for thousands of dollars.

The first issue of Superman sold for over $3 million dollars.

And an original Led Zeppelin T-shirt from 1979 sold for $10,000.

The gray Mickey tee on the right is not only an original tee from the 70s but it is also a “Tri-Blend” tee meaning that it was made with three materials: Cotton, polyester and Rayon.

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Coupled with the fact it is thin, threadbare and in impeccable shape for being approximately 40 years old (almost vintage for a human being) warrants this Mickey tee to be thrust into the upper echelons of vintage Mickey tees. Which is why it is priced so much higher than the black tee on the left.

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Click to see in store (Update: Now Sold)

It may not be “The First” Mickey tee ever made (undoubtedly not) but it certainly is old and has survived several decades without becoming a dust rag. It is “original”, it is “vintage” and it is “expensive”. It will “sit in my store for a long time”  (Update 12/15/16: this incredible Mickey tee has now been sold) because many people probably won’t want to spend “$300 on a T-shirt” but I’m willing to wait because I guaren-damn-tee you there ain’t many of these out there right now.

It’s an investment.

Thoughts?

 

What Is Considered A “Vintage T-Shirt”?

(Update: Defunkd has already written about this. He even started the post out with the definition of “vintage” like I did! Boy do I feel like an idiot.)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “vintage” as such: “(The word is) Used to describe something that is not new but that is valued because of its good condition, attractive design”.

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“Vintage”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Why write an entire post about what is considered vintage when the dictionary explains it so well?

Quite frankly, because I don’t think Merriam Webster explains what makes a T-shirt vintage. It just says, “something”. That something could be anything! It could be lunch boxes. It could be pressed coins. Could it not also be for T-shirts?

There has to be some sort of cutoff date before each respective collectible is considered “vintage”, right?

So, for me, when it comes to T-shirts, my cutoff point is the year 2000. Any tee after that year (2001 to the present) can no longer qualify as “vintage” in my book. Perhaps in another ten years or so, I may reexamine what can be defined as a “vintage T-shirt” but for right now, as a collector who sells tees with regularity, my standard is to keep vintage at the year 2000 and before.

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“Kinda Old” (Click photo to see in store)

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“Vintage” (Click photo to see in store)

Lastly and for the record, I happen to be 35 years old. I DO NOT consider myself vintage. The “vintage rules” that apply to tees do not have the same applications with humans. There are billions of people on the planet with the average lifespan being about 67 years old. Using the same formula with humans, I would classify myself as just “kinda old”. I’m not going to be vintage for about another 20 years.

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“Kinda Old” (and with delicious cupcakes)

 

Questions Barbara Walters Might Ask Me

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Barbara Walters: Good evening. I’ve interviewed a lot of people in my lifetime but no one has ever made me shiver in my pantaloons as much as “Chris” of the nostalgic website and eBay store “Holy Idea Tees”. Chris, how are you doing today?

Chris: I’m good Barbara. Thanks for having me. 

BW: First things first, would you please take that ridiculous pizza hat off of your head?

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C: Oops, sorry. I work from home and am used to wearing this all day.

BW: That brings me to my first question: Why did you decide to leave Corporate America to work from home and pursue a dream of fame and fortune through the vintage T-shirt medium?

C: Well, it’s simple really. I hated working for “The Man”.  He (The Man) always had HIS best interests in mind. They were really stupid, boring ideas. Mine were better and more exciting. I got tired of doing things that only squelched my creativity. So… I quit. Now I get to do what I want while wearing a pizza hat all day. 

BW: You bring up your creativity, what are some of the things you do to feed that animal?

C: Not enough things honestly. I’ve spent the better part of two years building my store so I’d have a foundation to build upon. It isn’t until just now with over 1,800 vintage tees in my store that I feel like I have something to market. I would have been hitting the marketing/advertising side a lot more often but when you’re just one person trying to build something you have to prioritize. With that being said, you can expect a lot more activity from me on Instagram, Facebook and on my blog in the next month as I really try to build those avenues. I’m also toying with the idea of a YouTube channel.

BW: I see. So, you’ve had no one helping you? You’ve been doing this all on your own?

C: Well, that’s not entirely true. I have my business partner who also happens to be my beautiful wife who I go to for business advice and second opinions. She also handles all the shipping if and when I have to go out of town. She moonlights as a vintage T-shirt torso model as well so I get to take pictures of her in the vintage tees for the website from time to time.

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BW: Do you enjoy taking pictures of her torso?

C: Yes. Yes I do.

BW: Do you think that perhaps you enjoy it a little too much?

C: What do you mean?

BW: You know what I mean.

C: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I get you. Yes, I suppose I do. She has a very nice torso. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

BW: HAHAHAHA!

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C: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

BW: HAHAHAHAHAHA *BEEEEEEEELLLLLLLCCCCH*…………..

C: ……………….

BW: Oops, sorry about that. I had a giant pastrami sandwich for lunch. It was delicious. It gave me a little indigestion. It was about this big.

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C: I’ve never had pastrami before. 

BW: It’s fantastic stuff. You should try it.

C: What the hell are we talking about? 

BW: I belched and everything got derailed after that. Let’s get back on track. So, your wife helps you, is there anyone else?

C: I have an assistant named Barb. She a nudist doll who identifies (in any number of unique ways) flaws that may be present on the tees in my eBay listings. She gets looked over quite a bit but she’s a very pivotal part of the team here at Holy Idea Tees.

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Barb pointing out a flaw

BW: I see. That’s very, uh… creative.

C: It’s an untraditional way to stick out in someones mind. No one else uses a tiny nudist doll to point out issues. 

BW: You’re right, I can’t say I’ve seen that before.

C: I also use more traditional methods to “stick” out. 

BW: What are you doing?

C: I’m putting all these high quality, weather resistant, die cut Holy Idea Tees stickers on my face.

BW: Aren’t those going to hurt when you pull them off?

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C: Well… I didn’t quite think that though.

BW: Do you need some help getting those off?

C: No. That’s okay they should come off fairly easilaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHAHHHHHHH….

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C: …….HHHHHHHHHAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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BW: Wow. Those are some pretty high quality stickers. Where’d you get those?

C: From this place online called StickerApp. All you have to do is upload your image and within a couple days they’ll have as many stickers as you want delivered to your house. I put a Holy Idea Tees sticker with every vintage tee that’s purchased from my eBay store. My goal is to have a sticker on every car in the U.S. by next year. I’m about one trillionth of the way there.

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BW: What’s the name of that place again?

C: StickerApp. It’s like the word “Sticker” with “App” right behind it. StickerApp. Just don’t stick their stickers on your face. I think I’m going to have to go soak mine in some ice water.

BW: Okay, I appreciate you taking the time to let me ask you hard hitting questions. Sorry for belching pastrami leftovers in your face. Before you go to soak your face, let’s take a photo together.

C: Thanks Barbara, it’s been a pleasure.

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Totally unedited photo of Barbara Walters and me


Did  you know I was also interviewed by Diane Sawyer? You can read that interview by clicking here.