A ‘Spring Fling’ with the Fash ‘n’ Treasure market

14 Sep

* This post was by T2, a co-author of In The Taratory from 2011-2013. *

The cleverly-titled Fash ‘n’ Treasure market sells itself as ‘Canberra’s one and only fashion event,
bringing together local wardrobes, fashion designers, fashion shops, milliners and stylists
’. As a keen market-goer and fashion lover, the promise of two whole levels of clothing and accessories certainly caught my attention. Canberra isn’t particularly known for its wide range of shops, so it seemed to be a great opportunity to pick up a couple of unique, one-off pieces.

I first experienced the world of Fash ‘n’ Treasure back in September 2010. My mum and I hit the spring fling-themed fashion market with the intention of finding an outfit for the upcoming racing season. There was a plethora of stalls, representing both professional and personal traders. Work-wear, casual, formal, accessories, hats, fascinators, bags, shoes; it was all there for the taking. While I didn’t uncover the perfect Derby Day dress or fascinator that day, I did enjoy the atmosphere (complete with a rockin’ DJ pumping out Top 40 hits) – and watched as a lot of other girls walked away with bags of bargains. My Darwin-based mother was also suitably impressed, lamenting the fact that there was no similar initiative up there in the tropical Northern Territory.

And so I decided that I wanted to try my hand at selling. Like countless other women I know, my wardrobe was chock-a-block with clothes dating back to my teen years. Quite a few, I’m ashamed to admit, still unworn with tags intact. I checked out the markets’ custom website to get a clearer idea of what was involved in becoming a trader for the upcoming winter market. The site was professional, aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. It all seemed simple: create a login and sign up online (picking your preferred stall on a colour-coded map), pay the registration fee by credit card, and turn up on the morning with your wares. I also came across a downloadable Fash ‘n’ Treasure handbook, full of helpful tips and guidelines for the new trader.

Needless to say, the sign-up process was definitely the easiest part of the experience. As a first-time stallholder, I seriously underestimated the amount of time that would be required to prepare. The day before was spent madly buying clothes racks, printing off price tags, sorting clothes and ensuring they looked presentable, organising a cash float, searching for a bum bag (oh so cool!) to conceal said cash, and loading everything up into my tiny Toyota Yaris. Phew. This was followed by a 7am start (on a Saturday morning – shock horror!), lots of heavy lifting (of the clothes racks, boxes, a rug and chair), and a long, slow day (note to self – the Old Bus Depot markets are cold inside during the winter months. Brrr).

There was a steady stream of customers over the six hours of the market, and I managed to sell quite a few items. My range of Cue and Veronika Maine dresses were the biggest hits – which was expected, given their high quality and the fact that plenty of the women appeared to be corporate types. The $30 dresses (once purchased for well over $150) were snapped up in the blink of an eye. At the end of the day, I made a tidy $350 in profit. However, once you consider the registration fee ($60 in my case), the set-up costs (I spent $40 on two clothes racks) and the opportunity cost of time (there’s my inner economist showing through), it’s hard to assess whether it was really worth it. Despite the fact that I had priced my items very cheaply ($5 for most brand-name items), I still had so many unsold clothes and shoes. But I was lucky, apparently – the women in my neighbouring stall fretted that they hadn’t even made back the initial cost of registration. All in all, I was pleased with my day’s work. The market benefited three groups of people: me (with my $350 profit and considerably roomier closet), the buyers (who’d picked up items priced much less than what they were worth), and the op shop I’d donated my leftover items to (fingers crossed that all those teeny-bopper skirts and tops went to a much more deserving home!).

When the spring market rolled around again this year, I was eager to put away the bum bag and check it out from a buyer’s perspective. The first thing I noted upon entering the market was that it was much smaller this time around. At previous events, the entire two levels of space were utilised; the top level with professional sellers and the bottom level with private sellers. Now, the professional and private sellers were mixed in together on the bottom level. I’d heard that Fash ‘n’ Treasure changed hands recently and had increased its frequency to monthly; perhaps explaining why the size of the market had decreased considerably. The composition of the stalls was also a little different. In addition to the usual clothing and accessory stalls, there were now recycled and collectable items, books, records, CDs, comics and magazines for sale. I guess this appealed to some people but, for me, I was only really interested in the fashion.

While the market was indeed much smaller, the atmosphere was still very pleasant. I was able to grab a coffee and a bite to eat while I wandered, and there was an amazing acoustic act set up in place of the DJ. Some vendors also elected to set up their own sound systems, which provided an ample mix of sights and sounds. The only thing that detracted from some stalls were those who’d seemingly brought along every single item in their wardrobes. I couldn’t be bothered trying to sift through the jam-packed racks or the overflowing tubs of unfolded clothes, and moved on very quickly.

On this occasion, I did manage to pick up a bargain: some beautiful handmade cards and a lovely, bright Veronika Maine dress for $30. I was tempted by a few other pieces, but decided to restrain myself (after all, I’d just finished clearing out the wardrobe a few months earlier – the last thing I should be doing was filling it up again!). When I got home, I realised that I had inadvertently bought a dress that matched perfectly to a Viktoria Novak fascinator I already owned. What luck! My next spring racing carnival outfit is now already organised, months in advance. I also really enjoyed checking out a stall that had a range of old-fashioned flouncy ball gowns on display. The full skirts and the interesting designs were so unique – you’d never see anything like it in the Canberra Centre, that’s for sure!

So, after three different Fash ‘n’ Treasure ventures, will I attend the markets again? Sure – but only as a buyer. My selling days are done and dusted for now. I’d definitely recommend it to other fashionistas who are seeking an outlet to sell their bits and pieces, though. The market bypasses the hassles associated with eBay shopping (notably, having to sit down and describe every detail of an item and take flattering pictures – it’s all about ‘what you see is what you get’ with Fash ‘n’ Treasure), and there’s no need to organise postage, worry about feedback ratings, or deal with returns. Much easier.

The next Fash ‘n’ Treasure markets are being held on October 8; same place, same time. Girls, check em’ out!

Tips for prospective sellers:

  1. Weigh up whether or not you are likely to make enough profit to recoup the seller’s fees (which start from $60, depending on the size of the stall). It may be better to just clean out the closet and donate it all to the op shop.
  2. It’s a good idea to go halves in a stall with a friend. Not only does it minimise costs, but it’s useful to have a second pair of hands to help set up and man the stall while you take a quick bathroom or coffee break. You’ll also probably want to check out the other stalls, too, so this means you can have a wander without feeling hurried to return to your own stall.
  3. Only sell good-quality items, and restrict the number of items you have for sale. No one wants to sift through hundreds of old, worn shirts in the hope of finding that one gem – you’ll find that, if nothing catches the buyer’s eye in the first minute or so, they’ll lose interest very quickly and move on. And, if a top has the slightest hint of sweat marks around the underarm area – BIN IT!!! Do not even consider trying to sell it; that’s just downright gross.
  4. It sounds basic, but remember to bring a chair, coat, snacks and reading material. You’ll be at the market for a good 6-7 hours – and it will absolutely drag if it’s quiet and you’re left standing around with nothing to do.
  5. Work out in advance how you’ll let customers try on your clothes. If it’s a quality item, you probably don’t want them disappearing into the crowds to hunt down a change room – they may never return! I decided to request their licence or student ID in exchange for the item, and this system worked well.
  6. The Fash ‘n’ Treasure organisers do advertise the market through various channels, but why not drum up extra business yourself? You can request that a bunch of flyers be sent to you in advance – post them around the workplace, or place an advertisement on your department’s general bulletin board (if it’s permitted, of course). Fash ‘n’ Treasure also has a facebook page – join it and spread the word online.

Tips for prospective buyers:

  1. Correct change is always appreciated. There is one ATM at the market, but it charges fees. Some vendors also have eftpos arrangements, but it’s best to be prepared with cash.
  2. Note that change ‘rooms’ are provided, but they do not have mirrors inside them – you usually need to go outside to hunt down a full length mirror (which I’m not a fan of personally, I like assessing the outfit alone in front of a mirror). Some women wore clothes that enabled them to simply slip an item over the top without needing to change.
  3. Go early in the day for the best bargains. The professional traders will likely have duplicate items, but the private traders won’t. Once the gems are sold, you’ll have missed out!

Date: Saturday, 3 September (10.00am-4.00pm)

Attendees: T2

Cost: free entry for buyers, various prices for stallholders starting from $60 (including insurance and access to fitting room)

Location: Old Bus Depot Markets, Wentworth Avenue, Kingston

Worthwhile factor: worthwhile – but it depends on your luck

Want more? www.fashntreasure.com.au or https://www.facebook.com/fashntreasure


One Response to “A ‘Spring Fling’ with the Fash ‘n’ Treasure market”

  1. msnatty87 September 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    What a great post T2, I really enjoyed reading it!

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