The One Million Dollar T-Shirt

You know that scene in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory when Charlie Bucket finds the last ticket?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, quiz

Wowzers!

That’s kinda how I felt when I found this tee the other day:

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Click photo to view in store

I’ve found quarters in the street, $20 bills flitting through the air and even a diamond ring once but I’ve never found a T-shirt worth a million dollars! It would suffice to say that THIS tee is the Holy Grail of all vintage T-shirts. You may have an original Rolling Stones tee worn by Mick Jagger at their first show or any number of other rare and collectible tees and it wouldn’t come close to a million bucks.

Now, I personally don’t wanna be walking around wearing this tee because people are crazy and I might just find myself mugged and shirtless outside of an estate sale one day. It needs to go to someone like Kanye West or Justin Bieber. Someone who has body guards who prevent T-shirt robberies from happening. Or it should go to an eclectic collector of things like this who would frame it above their mantle or put it in their safety deposit box for safe keeping. Maybe Sir Richard Branson would enjoy wearing this T-shirt as he sipped margaritas on the beach of Necker Island? I don’t know who deserves such a shirt, but I’m gonna find out who.

So, for the ridiculously low, low price of only $50,000 (and also because eBay won’t let me price it any higher) this MILLION DOLLAR T-shirt can be worn by YOU!! That’s a ridiculous reduction of 95% off the sticker price on this million dollar tee! I’ll even let you pay five monthly increments of $10,000 if that helps!

I will accept best price offers as well. But, don’t lowball me like this guy:

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So, start your new journey through life by buying this million dollar tee right now! Get it before it’s too late and Sir Richard Branson buys it!

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Only thing missing from this shot is a Million Dollar T-shirt

 

 

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My Limp Bizkit Goatee

I love picking vintage tees because of the memories they bring along with them. Chances are certain T-shirts will invoke thoughts you hadn’t explored in a long time too. Take this particular story for instance:

Whilst I was out searching for my next grail the other day, I happened upon this Limp Bizkit tee:

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Click to see in eBay store

In another lifetime, I was a founding member of a fraternity at the college I attended. I loved to party and hang out.  If it involved cheap beer, sorority girls and general craziness I was in.  I was the fun-loving, happy party guy to hang out with.  I never started fights, lit bags of poop on fire on someones front doorstep or said hateful things to anyone. I lived the best overall college experience with no regrets.

Well… almost none.

I’d never been one to be overly fanatical about music, but at the time I was really into Limp Bizkit. For some reason, I REALLY liked them. Maybe it was all the Christian music I’d been forced to listen to growing up? Perhaps it was the rock/rap hybrid music? Or maybe Limp Bizkit’s front man Fred Durst and his penchant for cuss words and Playboy models was someone I wanted to be like because he seemed cool.

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He always wore his hat backwards, had pierced ears and was covered in tattoos. All things I was never allowed to have living with my parents. However, now that I was out on my own, I could do whatever I wanted! So, I wore my hat backwards, pierced my ears and started getting tattooed.

Now, I had a rather sad-looking goatee that more closely resembled a patch of pubic hair than anything else. Sorta like Fred Durst and his goatee. Being part of the college crowd and always looking for a way to differentiate myself, I thought it would be a good idea to color my chin pubes like Fred had done from time to time.

So I did:

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Here’s a little closer view:

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This is the only known photo in existence of my bleached goatee. RIP.

I’m sure Fred had his professionally done but I did mine all by myself with regular bleach. I wanted it WHITE so I bleached it about SIX times. Subsequently, I was successful in my pursuit of a white goatee but burnt the living shit out of the skin on my chin. With my chin pubes now white, these burns were clearly visible.

I managed to pull it off for a while until my roots started to grow out and my skin started to scab over. This resulted in a half black and white goatee complete with scabby undertones.  Eventually, I shaved it off and was forced to look like I’d slid down a gravel embankment with my chin.

It wasn’t until several years down the road when Fred pined after Britney Spears and sang with Christina Aguilera that I started to realize he wasn’t as cool as I’d thought he was.

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Poser

I don’t know how much stupider I could have felt for bleaching my goatee to a point of nearly burning it off but I can tell you that after Fred’s fall from being a tough guy to a teen bop fanboy, I was done. It was time to move on and finally chalk that mistake up to insecurity and just being a dumb college student.

However, I must admit, whenever “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit comes on in my car, I roll up the windows and blast it hard. It never gets old. Even without the bleached goatee.


 

What tees do you have that stir up particular memories?

And, as always, feel free to browse the current vintage tees I have any stock to see if any bring up any long forgotten memories: http://stores.ebay.com/Holy-Idea-Tees

 

 

 

A Coat Made Of Curtains

After picking vintage T-shirts for the last several years, I’ve gotten very good at the art of picking. When it comes to thrift stores, depending on my mood and the size of the store, I can get in and out very quickly. This involves keeping my head down, staying focused and not engaging with anyone. This works for me because of my introverted nature. It’s not easy for me to talk to strangers. I can do it, and I’m not bad at it, but it saps my energy and wears me out.

However, I love to listen to and observe what’s going on around me. There’s no better place to people-watch than at a thrift store. I’ve seen paramedics treat a passed-out drunk homeless person on a store sofa, old curmudgeons bitch about “high prices” and heated yelling matches between customers. It all makes for a great reality show playing out right in front of me. I just observe, smirk to myself and continue doing my thing.

One particular day a few weeks ago, I was doing this exact thing at a Salvation Army store. As I hurriedly flipped through the tees I took in the sights and sounds around me. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Certainly no drunks or obstinate people. Just the regular ambient noise of a thrift store. There was one voice, however, that continued to capture my attention. It was a joyful one. One that wasn’t too fake or overly annoying. It was enough for me to turn around and seek out who it belonged to.

She was a older lady, hard to tell how old because African Americans age so well. She was targeting each person in the store, going up to them and asking for a hug. Not for money. Not for a handout. But for a hug. With each hug she gave the same sort of pep talk: “Jesus loves you honey. We all need a little more love in this world. We are all one people. Show love today.” Something along those lines.

I’m certainly not new to “interesting” people coming up to me saying things that make me scratch my head but this woman seemed to have it together. She was nice, polite and had a smile that lit up the building.

She hadn’t made her way to me yet but I was just in the process of finishing up and moved my way to the checkout line. When I made it there, we crossed paths.

“Well, where’s my hug sugar?” She said.

“I’ve got it right here” I replied, “I’ve been listening to you and I like your style!”

It wasn’t until I said that that I noticed what she was wearing. No doubt, her coat was made from curtains. Remarkably, they resembled the curtain pattern my parents have in their house. Her knitted cap was undoubtedly one she’d made herself. It was at that moment that I was truly moved.

“Alright then, God bless you. Jesus loves you!” She said with a smile and then moved on to the next person.

“But wait,” I thought to myself, “I want to talk to you some more! Why the hell are you so happy? You have a coat made of curtains for Gods sake!”

I’m not that good at improv. I can’t really speak off the cuff. My introvered, obsessive nature makes me afraid to speak sometimes for fear of saying too much or not saying the right thing. For this reason she continued on her way. I simply sat in line waiting to check out with a forlorn look on my face wanting “a little bit of whatever that lady is taking”. The woman behind me piped up and asked the checkout employee, “Who is that lady?”

“I dunno” she said completely nonplussed.

I wanted to slap her. She was completely unphased by this woman doing so much with so little. In a world consumed with so many bad things, isn’t it nice to get a little love from an unlikely source?

“I love her. I think she’s cute. The world needs more people like her” I said.

I picked up my small bag of vintage T-shirts and headed for the door. But before I made it there I decided I wanted to tell this lady how awesome she was. So I turned around and I approached her. This is not normal for me. I don’t talk to people I don’t know and I’m not good at it. I wasn’t as graceful as she was. In fact, I was a bit awkward. I waited for her while she doted on her lastest benefactor. I felt like a fan waiting for an autograph.

When she finished, I approached her and told her what an amazing thing it was that she was doing and to keep it up. I pulled my phone out and asked if I could take a photo with her. I wanted to remember her.

“Oh honey, no photos. Maybe at a later time. We’ll have to do that later. I don’t look my Sunday best. You know, a lady’s got to get her hair done before a photo.”

I assured her it definitely wasn’t a big deal but she politely declined again and I obliged. We chatted very briefly as she seemed a little confused as to why I was so interested in her. I thanked her for her kind words and left a little more fulfilled but with many more questions I wanted to ask.

Her brief appearance in my life’s story made an impact on me. Each day, I wake up not knowing what this day will bring. Events pass by and the monoteny of each day roll further back in my memory bank with no promise of being able to recollect it in a few years. This moment though, was one I didn’t want to forget. Without a picture of her or a promise of ever running into her again, I decided to write this post. Her decision to love me that day really impacted me. I am so happy to have met her.

I hope one day to see her again.

I’m A Toys “R” Us Kid

Growing up in Norway, there was no Toys “R” Us. Only IKEAs on every corner and supermarkets where fresh fish smells filled the air in my nostrils to a point where I can’t stand the smell or taste of fish anymore.

However, the absence of a supermarket full of toys made it all the more fantastic when we visited the States and my older brother would take me there. Nothing beat the rush of serotonin upon entering that place and getting the feeling of… well, never wanting to grow up:

What makes being a picker of vintage T-shirts so fantastic is that you never know what you’re going to run into and the memories it will bring to the surface. That’s why I love doing what I do. Being able to attach myself and other people to their past is something that never gets old.

Which is why, when I found this sweatshirt (yes, I’ll pick things other than tees if it peaks my interest), I was transported back to that time before deodorant and pubes when things were much simpler.

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In an adult size too! A miracle! (Click image to view in store)

Needless to say, Toys “R” Us had everything that Norway did not. Most importantly, to me, they had… ROCK LORDS:

What’s that? You never heard of ROCK LORDS??? Powerful living rocks? C’mon, they were the coolest! No? Well… to me they were my toy of choice. Sure, they weren’t as cool as Transformers or GI Joes or My Little Pony but they were unique, different and not everyone had them which made it all the more desirable to me. I had every character and played with them endlessly.

Unfortunately, when I grew up, I sold them all for beer money. At that time, beer was more important than toys. A decision I’ve regretted for a while. The good thing about the internet is that you can find things like Rock Lords and vintage T-shirts with only a few keystrokes. Speaking of… look at my store when you get a chance. You never know what kind of memories my collection may invoke and if you have any Rock Lords, maybe we can do a trade 🙂

 

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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