Thrifting, vintage community booms in Victoria despite pandemic

Sandi Szabo feels the support in Victoria is not comparable to other cities. (Provided by Sandi Szabo)
Morgan Hass quit her job as a resturant manager to become a full time thrifter after her Instagram page (@whatslostandfound) took off. (Photos by Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Mackenzie Wavryk opened Upcycle Clothing Collective after thrifting her whole life.

When Morgan Hass quite her job in the hospitality industry to become a full-time thrifter she knew she was taking a chance, but felt like Victoria was the place to do it.

Hass was working 70 hours a week, waking up in the middle of the night stressed out and more importantly, she wasn’t happy. After moving to the Island from Toronto with only a few hockey bags full of belongings, Hass began to scour local second-hand stores to furnish her house.

“I started flipping the odd thing,” she said. Hass would go hunt for an item, even if it was something that didn’t interest her, then sell it. “I saw the profit and was like, wow, people want this and they will pay a premium not to have to go find it and to not have to clean it.”

It wasn’t until after a trip to Amsterdam, where Hass noticed items were put out on the street for the taking – similar to her Fernwood neighborhood – that she decided to take the plunge.

READ ALSO: From umbilical cords to Rolex watches – the best and weirdest thrift shop finds

“I was like I need to focus on things that make me happy, I moved across the country already. So why limit myself?”

In February, Hass started an Instagram account called WhatsLostAndFound that has since taken off. Now Hass, who spends at least four or five days a week thrifting, will do a “drop” at least twice a week, posting items for sale.

Mackenzie Wavryk started in a similar way. Wavryk runs Upcycle Clothing Collective on Fort Street, a consignment store that started out on Instagram.

“It was going well but it was pretty intense meeting up with people [all the time],” Wavryk said.

It wasn’t until she hosted a garage sale that got “super busy” that her mom brought up the idea of running a business. With some guidance, Wavryk created a business plan and found the space downtown about a year ago.

Although the pandemic put a bit of a bump in her plans, Wavryk still has big plans for the shop and has been toying with the idea of moving the shop to Tofino.

READ ALSO: Man accidentally donates girlfriend’s 50 pairs of shoes to B.C. thrift store

“Thrifting is going to be the next thing forever, but it has to be tailored to the city that you’re in,” said Wavryk.

For another local thrifter, opening a vintage shop in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t ideal but Szandi Szabo has been amazed by the response and support she’s received. Szabo opened up her Fernwood shop Csinos Vintage (pronounced chee-nosh) in July after “dabbling a bit” online.

“It’s sort of a mood, like when you get together with your friends and they come to the door and you’re already feeling good and they say, oh, you look good … in Hungarian you say you look csinos,” said Szabo.

While Szabo thinks the internet makes it easier to open a vintage or thrift shop in other places, she feels “blessed” to have Victoria as her community.

“We are really an all-encompassing place in terms of like, you know, gender, clothes. So I think that’s why people come [to my shop] instead going to the mall and I think people are really trying to be an individual in all aspects of their life so being able to find something that’s one of a kind and learning a little bit about it gives authenticity to that.”

Hass feels like her business model wouldn’t work anywhere else.

“I mean, I don’t know because I haven’t tried. I don’t think I would have the same support that I do here,” said Hass, adding that Victoria could be the thrift capital because she finds a new shop at least every week.

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