TONGANOXIE, Kan. — Don’t call it a side hustle. Reselling vintage items is now a billion-dollar industry, and it’s blowing up in the Kansas City area.
Elizabeth Daniel from Tonganoxie doesn’t go thrifting like the rest of us. In fact, you could say she has thrifting down to an art form.
A few years ago she started a Facebook group called Elizabeth Daniel Decor, and each week she came up with a completely different theme, styling a photo, vignette or scene.
Now, Elizabeth Daniel Decor has nearly 16,000 members.
So each week Daniel uses her background in art history to scour for pieces of the puzzle — or theme for that week’s photo.
“This is a fulltime job,” she said. “This is your job. I do this every day of the week.”
Daniel has a savvy sense for the knick-knacks that will sell.
“I consider it like artwork I’m staging, almost a stage of a play,” she said. “So I stage the photo and then at 4 p.m. I break it down and sell everything in the photo individually and people get really into it. It’s really fun.”
Daniel almost instantly knows what will sell and what won’t.
She’s on the leading edge of more than just a side hustle or a fad. Experts say professional thrifting is here to stay.
“I don’t really try to make like a huge profit on any one thing,” Daniel said. “I just try to grab as many things as I can while I’m here and make enough profit to make it worth it so I can keep doing it.”
And it’s not just a business. For Daniel, she said part of her goal is to keep as many things as possible out of landfills.
Over at Slater Street Antiques in Merriam, several thrifters under 30 are making a living by selling nostalgia.
“If you see something that you like yourself and your heart calls to it, then buy it,” Sara Garcera at Slater Street Antiques said. “If you can, buy it for cheap and then resell it because you don’t know what you like someone else might like, too.”
The old expression is true: What might be one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Back at Daniel’s home in Tonganoxie, there’s a seemingly endless amount of inventory to keep her business going.
“Everything you see here will be for sale at some point,” she said.
And Daniel isn’t the only one riding this wave. A recent industry report projects the global second market will nearly double, reaching $350 billion in annual revenue by 2027.
It’s a fascinating new industry that even newcomers can learn to pick up.
But Daniel has one final piece of advice: If you’re thinking of doing this as a “get rich quick” scheme, you’ll be disappointed. It can be lucrative, but you have to love it and be willing to stick it out for the long haul.