Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Vintage and buy-sell-trade shop Fox & Fawn has locations in Greenpoint and Bushwick, but thanks to two prolific Instagram accounts, the shop's merchandise is accessible from every 'hood. On any given day, owners Beverly Hames and Marissa Johnson and their team post batches of clothing and accessories from a range of designers—contemporary brands like Rachel Comey and Rag & Bone, and high-end labels like Dries Van Noten.
The store doesn't have a traditional e-commerce set up, but when we spoke to Hames, it sounds like the social media platform is all they need to move goods beyond Brooklyn and Manhattan's zip codes. After the jump, she explains to us how the process works, what precautions she takes to make sure that all customers are satisfied, and the easiest way to call dibs on the best pieces.
How did you start selling on Instagram?
Every time a new social media platform emerges I start an account with the store's name. We'd already been posting pictures of new and interesting items from the store on our Facebook page, so it made sense to start posting on Instagram too, especially when Facebook started trying to charge us to reach customers who had signed on to follow us. At first it was just to get people in the door and draw them into the store, but then our friends who followed us started asking to buy the items. It was a pretty natural progression from previewing items to straight selling them.
It looks pretty popular judging by the comments. Are a lot of people catching on and signing up?
The response has been incredible! We are so lucky to have such amazing and loyal customers. Since we've started, a lot of other businesses have gotten wise to the game, but our sell-through is mindblowing. We may have less followers than some of the bigger vintage and retail accounts, but the support and enthusiasm we receive is bigger! I think a lot of it is because we keep our price point lower so there's less apprehension about buying something without trying it on. Plus we love getting to see the clothes in action when our followers post a picture of themselves wearing something from the shop. I can think of nothing more satisfying!
A lot of people have started selling on Instagram, both businesses and individuals, and it's been cool to watch how people have utilized it as an emerging marketplace. However, that marketplace is also totally unregulated. With us (and other storefront-based or otherwise established businesses) there is more accountability and security. We do this for a living, not as a hobby, and because of that we have way more responsibilities when it comes to customer service and satisfaction. I have a feeling that as more and more selling accounts pop up, we're going to start hearing stories of people getting ripped off via Instagram shopping and it bums me out.
How do you choose things you feature—are there certain standards an item has to meet? Do you Instagram things as soon as they hit the store?
We choose items to post mostly based on what we vibe with. It really depends on the day. If it's snowing in Brooklyn, you'll probably see a ton of cozy sweaters and a few vintage sun dresses to give people hope for spring. We generally don't post damaged items, because no matter how cute something is, it's not cute to spend half of a caption explaining condition issues and we never want anyone to be disappointed in a purchase. We like to mix it up with high and lower price points and have a balance between vintage and contemporary designer items with a few fun street wear pieces and the occasional men's item peppered in.
We try to avoid pillaging the stores too mercilessly. We operate brick-and-mortar storefronts first and foremost. We don't want to alienate or bum out our local customers, so we try to allow items at least a week to sell in the store. But when someone brings in a giant bag of incredible vintage or contemporary designer to sell, you can pretty much guarantee at least one or two of those pieces will be posted as soon as they are brought in.
Any advice for your followers on nabbing the best pieces?
Get on file with us! Don't wait until you see something you want. Do it ahead of time so you can be ready to go when that perfect pair of Rachel Comeys pop up in your size. Another tip is we tend to post items in groups, so if one or two posts from us pop up in your feed, stay tuned: there will be more coming.
Finally (and this is a big one), if you have questions and you're anxious about someone else swooping in on the item, it's often better to call us instead of asking via the comments. The turnaround time between question and answer via Instagram commenting is usually only a matter of minutes, but in that time someone may throw in a "ring me" and score the item before we can address your questions! Everything is first-come, first-serve and if you call us we can address the questions right away.
If you are following our new store's account, @foxandfawnbushwick, there's a separate filing system for that location to keep things nice and secure. To make your first purchase through that location and account you will need to get on file even if you're already on file at the original Greenpoint store.
Most of our customers sign up via phone. They're just required to give us the same security and billing information they would for making an online purchase through an e-commerce store. Our system is pretty simple: Sign up and leave a comment that says "ring me" followed by your last name. That's it!
You ship if they don't pick it up from the store within two weeks. Anything else shoppers should know?
We either ship items to customers the day they are purchased if that is what they request, or we hold in the store for pick-up if the person is local. We will hold an item for pick-up for two weeks, but if you don't show up you will be getting a phone call from us. We never just ship items without trying to get a hold of someone first. If you see a missed call and a voicemail from an unknown 718 number on a Thursday, listen to the voicemail or call us back—you'd be amazed how many people don't!
What's your return policy?
All sales are final. Same as in-store purchases and same as 99.99% of online vintage or secondhand purchases. We don't post items that aren't sized and we measure items that have very specific fits. Basically we try to take all the guesswork out of the equation.
We only accept returns when we've made an error in the description. If we accidentally post the wrong size or miss something in the description that's significant, we will accept returns in exchange for in-store credit. We initially had a more flexible policy, but we found that people were starting to get competitive over the rad things we were posting and saying "ring me" on things that weren't their size on the off chance that they might sort of fit and effectively swiping them from the hands of people who could and would actually wear them.
So just remember, if we post a size 6 dress and you're a size 2, don't buy it just because you love it!—Courtney Iseman
· Fox & Fawn [Instagram]
· Fox & Fawn Bushwick [Instagram]