Sage Schwer sits at the head of her dining room table in her childhood home. She is dressed in a casual, all black ensemble. It is different than her usual stand-out attire. Schwer’s best friend, Angelina Sommer is sprawled out on the couch next to her. However, the two friends are not average at all. They are business partners and have big plans to become major fashion influencers in Jersey City.
Vintage clothing has become somewhat of a trend in the past few years. According to a 2017 annual report on Thredup.com, one out of three women would purchase second-hand clothing. The same report concludes that 49 percent of customers purchased secondhand clothes, shoes, and accessories more than any other secondhand items sold.
Located throughout Jersey City are several thrift stores including Another Man’s Treasure and Very. The popular vintage trends have led to the development of vintage pop-up shops, which can be located at markets hosted by the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District in Jersey City.
Twenty-two year old Schwer is the founder of the vintage pop-up shop Porch Finds, located in Jersey City. The shop was created last year while Schwer was still attending the University of Delaware. What started as a small “porch” sale outside of her on-campus residence became a major success.
Schwer and her college friends decided to collect their old clothing and sell it for profit on their campus. While Schwer hoped to gain customers, the turnout was more than she could have ever expected.
“A bunch of people came, and asked if I was going to be doing this more often, so we were like, ‘alright, I guess we should,’” said Schwer.
Schwer ended up hosting two more clothing sales while attending school and both were equally successful. Schwer hosted her final clothing sale in Delaware in April 2017. This time, the sale took place in her backyard and included the help of another entrepreneur on campus who also expressed interest in working with clothes.
“Right before I graduated, I basically was like, ‘I want to make this [final clothing sale] really big, let me make this a huge thing, let me invite a band to play at it. It would be so fun to have it as an experience and not just like, shopping,’” said Schwer.
After the success of the three clothing sale events, Schwer turned down a job opportunity and decided to pursue Porch Finds as a full-time business.
“I had worked for a company for all my four years at Delaware so they offered me a full-time position there but it was in Delaware and I didn’t want to be there any longer. So I was like, let me just go with it [Porch Finds],” said Schwer.
After graduating, Schwer returned to her home in Jersey City and began to work toward the expansion of Porch Finds with the help of her closest friend.
“She [Schwer] would always tell me about Porch Finds, and I thought it was really cool. Then, when she came back from school she really started to do more stuff with it, like a website,” said Sommer.
Sommer gained experience selling clothing after working as a sales associate at the popular Buffalo Exchange thrift shop in New York City. She plays a huge role in the process of purchasing all clothing sold through Porch Finds.
“Whenever I want to buy something, I send her pictures and she gives me a thumbs up or thumbs down,” said Schwer.
Schwer and Sommer have hosted several Porch Finds events in Jersey City and Brooklyn, in rented spaces, and even in Schwer’s own home.
Porch Finds’ clothing is mainly sold on their online website and the majority of clothes are $60 and under. Schwer and Sommer accept clothing donations, and also spend much of their time traveling to different thrift stores in the tri-state area to search for merchandise to sell.
One of Schwer’s main goals is to inform her customers about the beneficial aspects of buying from thrift shops. She believes doing so can positively improve the environment, and the working conditions of those producing clothing for fast-fashion companies like Forever21, H&M, and GAP.
“It takes 2,700 liters of water to produce one t-shirt. I’m trying to make people more open to the idea of secondhand shopping,” said Schwer.
Schwer is hopeful that her business will continue to grow and improve.
“I’m kind of seeing where I’m going to end up going with Porch Finds. I’m going to go around college campuses and have events,” said Schwer.
Similar to Schwer and Sommer, Danielle “Muneca” Mullins, developed her own vintage pop-up shop “Muneca Mullins,” in Jersey City just one year ago. With an impressive 3,000 followers on I nstagram, Mullins’ shop has become increasingly successful.
“It started when I began filling my emotional void with clothes,” said Mullins.
The clothing-obsessed fashionista began selling her old clothing at markets throughout Jersey City. After receiving positive feedback, Mullins decided to pursue a vintage pop-up shop as a full-time job.
Mullins chooses not to give away any information about where she finds clothes to sell, and takes great pride in what she does.
“It takes a lot of driving around and looking for new places to find inventory. When people ask where I get my clothes, I tell them ‘if you want this, you’ll figure it out’,” said Mullins.
Mullins’ success enabled her to purchase her very own studio in Hoboken where much of her merchandise will be sold. However, Mullins will continue to make appearances at markets in Jersey City.
Saint Peter’s University junior, Anthony Quinones shops at vintage stores and pop- up shops regularly.
“I enjoy the fact that the clothes from vintage stores are a bit more unique and lived in,” said Quinones.
Schwer and Sommer have purchased their own apartment in Jersey City, and hope to continue to expand their merchandise, and grow as a business. For more information, visit Porchfinds.com and www.etsy.com/shop/MunecaMullins.
“I’m willing to do all this work because I know it can fuel positive change and impact the fashion industry and the world,” said Schwer.