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The Fashion Geek Podcast

49 | Irene Zimmerman of “Irene’s Closet BK” Wants To Sell You Men's Vintage Clothing

Reg talks with Irene Z about finding strength and perseverance while dealing with the struggles of unemployment to launch a vintage clothing store during Covid. It’s an inspirational story that you should not miss, especially if you want to hear her motto. It’s a doozy.

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00:00 Introduction to the Fashion Geek
00:07 Meet Irene Zimmerman of Irene's Closet BK
00:21 The Appeal of Vintage Shopping
00:42 Irene's Journey into Vintage Fashion
03:35 Challenges and Rewards of Running a Vintage Shop 07:43 Community and Business Support
12:24 Navigating Weather and Logistics
16:21 Product Selection and Customer Preferences
20:43 The Importance of Natural Fibers
21:39 Curating a Unique Store Experience
22:35 Pricing Strategy and Customer Response
26:22 Seasonal Shopping and Inventory Management
27:20 Building Customer Relationships
28:39 The Value of Vintage for Men
30:25 Exploring Online Sales
32:15 Sourcing and Selecting Inventory
37:11 Financial Goals and Budgeting
39:03 Commitment to Menswear
40:28 Where to Find Irene's Closet
41:30 Always Be Fly: A Life Philosophy

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Reginald Ferguson [00:00:00]: Screw it. I'm gonna go out. I'm gonna buy stuff. I'm gonna I bought myself a card off of Amazon for $55. Irene Zimmerman [00:00:10]: And Wow. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:10]: Yeah. I drew my sign and I taped it onto a cardboard box, and that's it. Irene Zimmerman [00:00:19]: Hello. I'm Red. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:20]: And I'm Tiff. And we're the fashion geeks. Irene Zimmerman [00:00:22]: Trying to make New York. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:23]: And the world. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:24]: Well, New York is the world. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:25]: A little flyer, one outfit Irene Zimmerman [00:00:27]: And podcast. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:28]: At a time. I'm not a big thrift store guy. It's not really my sneeze. I think mainly because as a kid I viewed it as old lady shopping and mothballs. I could never understand why people, and really for me women, had an interest in doing that unless they were a costume designer. When I was an undergrad at NYU, one of my buddies was Javier Vasquez. He lived in Brooklyn. He lived in Sunset Park. Reginald Ferguson [00:00:59]: I used to go to his house sometimes because his mother, Senora Chencha, would hem pants for me. My late grandmother was starting to retire from that task. Anyway, seeing that I was into gear, Javier took me to a place I had never seen before or since. He took me to Domsey's. Do you know it? Do you remember it? The original Domsey's was this gigantic warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Pre hipster Williamsburg. Like, what the heck am I doing here in Williamsburg? I think it was somewhere near the water. I truly don't remember and I can't even tell you the cross streets because Javier took me. Reginald Ferguson [00:01:36]: He was my Brooklyn tour guide. Here's what I do remember. It was gigantic. Like you could get lost in there. It was far from school and I didn't like it. It was just rods upon rods of clothing, stuff in boxes, no merchandising. You had to dig. Dig? Like my late mom used to do it fine in Klines on Delancey Street to find a pocketbook? Yuck. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:04]: No way. There was also no connection for me with previously owned clothes. Somebody else's clothes? Why? Just get new ones. Are they clean? Maybe they have cooties. I don't think I ever bought anything, though. Javier, if you're listening, correct me if I'm wrong. I don't think I went more than twice. I think the clothes smelled or I wanted them to. Reginald Ferguson [00:02:27]: It was not a good shopping experience. Yo. This is Rich Ferguson, Fashion Geek number 1. Irene Zimmerman [00:02:39]: How you guys doing today? Reginald Ferguson [00:02:41]: Today, we're gonna talk with Irene Zimmerman of Irene's Plaza BK She's in Pippen's Park. We're gonna talk about a category of shopping that the everyday man probably should have interest in, especially with the current economy. I'm gonna talk about vintage shopping. Irene z, a a killer in the building. How are you, miss New? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:01]: I'm doing good. How you doing? Irene Zimmerman [00:03:04]: Good. Good. I'm hanging in there. You keeping safe out there? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:08]: Pretty safe. I ride my bike. I have a mask. That's my wife. Reginald Ferguson [00:03:14]: Good. Good. Very important. So before we go into our topic, please tell Irene Zimmerman [00:03:21]: us. So what do you do? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:29]: So what do so what do what do what do? Reginald Ferguson [00:03:39]: I go out hunting, and I do. That's that's what it is. I go out hunting for the best stuff. It's something I've always enjoyed doing. And then I bring it home, and I get it ready. And I put it on my little clothing rack on wheels. And on the weekends, I roll my rack the 6 blocks to my spot outside Sycamore Bar, and I'm there. And I sell stuff. Irene Zimmerman [00:04:12]: Holy cow. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:13]: That's it. Reginald Ferguson [00:04:16]: That's a lot. So so why vintage and why now? Reginald Ferguson [00:04:24]: Well, why now? You know, I, I've actually been unemployed for just over 1 year. And I've. Yeah, I always worked in sales. I after I worked in real estate, I worked in retail, mostly with fashion, mostly in stores that sold a mix of vintage and newer items. And I just always thought it would be great to have my own store, but I'm broke. I don't have any money. How like, that's never gonna happen. I'm never gonna be able to build up the kind of capital I need to be able to lease a space, either to afford to lease the space or to show on paper that I'm a viable candidate to lease a space. Irene Zimmerman [00:05:15]: Right. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:15]: And so I just I never really let myself think about it. But with things the way they are now, I just thought, screw it. I'm gonna go out. I'm gonna buy stuff. I'm gonna I bought myself a card off of Amazon for $55. And Wow. Yeah. I drew my sign, and I taped it onto a cardboard box. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:39]: And that's it. Irene Zimmerman [00:05:42]: Wow. So totally DIY. Reginald Ferguson [00:05:44]: Totally DIY. The hangers that I use are hangers from my own closet. I didn't go out and buy special hangers. I spray my clothes with a little bit of perfume. It's my perfume, just so things smell good. And there's a signature scent in it. You know, people sense memory is important. So every time people walk by, they smell something nice. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:09]: Oh, my god. Sure. Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:10]: Sure. I never would have thought Reginald Ferguson [00:06:11]: of it. I always have my music going. I have a little Bluetooth speaker, and I play my my Latin jams. It's a 2 hour set. And I play it twice because I'm out for 4 hours. As far as you're asking why now, but why in general, My neighborhood has no shopping. A few years ago, there was a Brooklyn Industries that closed, and they were Sure. I mean, it's Brooklyn Industries. Reginald Ferguson [00:06:40]: Like, it's fine basic stuff, I guess. But it's totally uninteresting. And so we we've been at least, at minimum, a mile in any direction of Cortelli Road. There's nowhere to buy clothes unless you go to Flatbush Avenue. And there's fun stuff on Flatbush, but a lot of it is cheap for a reason. It's gonna fall apart in a week and a half. And as someone who loves shopping, even just to go play dress up and not buy anything, That's kinda sucks that there's nowhere to, like, go and enjoy fashion and share that passion with other people who love to shop for whatever their personal reasons are. So in my neighborhood, I'm the only one. Reginald Ferguson [00:07:28]: And especially in this kind of market, it's beneficial to me to not just be really entrenched in my community in this particular sort of way, but to also be the only person offering this service. Irene Zimmerman [00:07:45]: Well, you you hit on something. So, essentially, I'm gonna twist the term. Mhmm. Your neighborhood, Ditmas Park, is a fashion desert, so to speak. Wow. And I never knew that. I don't claim to know Ditmas Park very well. Been through, I mean, handful of time just proving how how large and expansive Brooklyn is because we're not on opposite, you know, ends of the borough band, you stretch an imagination, but we're decently far from one another. Reginald Ferguson [00:08:14]: Yeah. Like, 3 and a half miles. Irene Zimmerman [00:08:16]: Right. There you go. Which for New York City, it is, is a universe away. Yeah. Right. But when you decided to do this, like you said, you knew you couldn't do a brick and mortar. But you were, you know, you have a passion for fashion. You mentioned community. Irene Zimmerman [00:08:40]: And I think fashion can do that, but I think specifically you're really walking the talk. So how has it felt introducing vintage fashion? We're gonna specifically talk about men's. I know you do both. How how does that feel for you to introduce this in your hood? Reginald Ferguson [00:09:01]: It's the best feeling in the world. You know, people in my neighborhood, they are fashionable. They are fashion forward. Excuse me. They, there's a large l g b q t community and a lot of bars and events that happen or would usually happen un pandemic, in my neighborhood. I mean, Sycamore bar has burlesque nights, and they show the drag race every Friday night. And now they Irene Zimmerman [00:09:33]: That's cool. Reginald Ferguson [00:09:34]: Yeah. They they have loads of, you know, trans and queer events regularly, weekly, etcetera, etcetera. And so there's just there's loads of people and young people in my neighborhood love to dress, but there there's nowhere for them to shop locally. And just the response that I've gotten so far has been so positive, not just from the people in my community, a lot of whom recognize me. Either they recognize me or they're like, hey. You're, that barista's sister, aren't you? Because we look exactly the same. My sister used to be a barista at the coffee shop in the neighborhood. So Wow. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:17]: It's it's like being in a village. It's just you everybody recognizes each other. We see each other all the time, even if we don't talk to each other. So there's that. And there's also the business community. This weekend will be my 2 months I've been out on the street. Irene Zimmerman [00:10:37]: Wow. 2 months in business. Reginald Ferguson [00:10:39]: 2 months in business. And I gotta say, the business community of Cortelli Road has been phenomenal. On Instagram, you know, Sycamore Bar, every weekend, they put me up in their stories because I'm right outside. My Cortellio, which is the Cortellio Road Business Association, they've started reposting my stuff in their stories and sending business my way. It's and I'm just a girl with a goofy cart. Like, it it really it really warms my heart. I have repeat customers, people who every weekend, even if they don't buy something, they always stop, and they check it out, and they chat with me. It's awesome Well, Irene Zimmerman [00:11:21]: that's really cool. And yes, I want to make it clear for the listeners if they if they ever want to check you out you are in front of Sycamore bar and flower shop, which is on could tell you and Though I can't claim to know sycamore bar But I do know it's on the same block as the farm Reginald Ferguson [00:11:42]: the farm on Adderley. Yeah, correct? Irene Zimmerman [00:11:44]: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I've been there twice. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:46]: Yeah. So actually Sycamore bar, they're connected because Sycamore bar you can order food and they will walk it over, like bar snacks. Irene Zimmerman [00:11:54]: Get out of here. I did not know. Reginald Ferguson [00:11:57]: In my neighborhood, there's a lot of that. Like, Sycamore Bar, I think their sister bar is the Rusty Nail, which is on on Foster in East 17th. Westwood Bar has assist or Westwood Restaurant, which is also up on Foster, has a sister rest sister bar. Pastello plan used to be owned by the same people as Leah. So there's a lot of this, you know, this really tight knit business community and local business owners. Irene Zimmerman [00:12:29]: Nice. And also for the listeners to be clear and correct me if I'm wrong Essentially, you're just a few blocks away from the Cattell you road stop on the Q track And are you also just a few blocks away from all those colorful restaurants that are owned by the same guy with the colored facade? Reginald Ferguson [00:12:49]: Yes. Irene Zimmerman [00:12:52]: Yeah. I Know it a little just Reginald Ferguson [00:12:54]: a little don't really know. Reginald Ferguson [00:12:56]: Well, you know, Cortell you wrote is the high street to use sort of the the European turn of phrase. It's the high road. No other there there are no other major business drags. I mean, there's Church Ave. You go, like, past oh, maybe, like, around Ocean Avenue and Flatbush. Church Avenue, obviously, is a major thoroughfare from beginning to end throughout Brooklyn. But in terms of within our community, Portillo Road is the place. I mean, there's a there's, like, hinterlands on our portion of on, like, the Ditmas Park, Prospect Park South portion of Ditmas Park. Reginald Ferguson [00:13:38]: And there's Thai, which is a great Thai food restaurant, but there's just a few little places. And then there's a few places on Foster and a few places on Newkirk. But Cortelli Road is the main drag. So obvious, it's there's nowhere else for me to go even if I wanted to go somewhere else. Irene Zimmerman [00:14:02]: Understood. So you're in the right spot. Reginald Ferguson [00:14:04]: Right spot. I am literally in the only spot that Reginald Ferguson [00:14:07]: is the best spot. I'm very careful. I picked block with the most foot traffic, And I picked the one spot on the entire block where I wouldn't be blocking traffic and I wouldn't be on top of bike racks or benches or trees or in the middle of truck loading, unloading. There's one little square, and that's my square. And no one else can have it. Irene Zimmerman [00:14:37]: You've claimed I've Reginald Ferguson [00:14:38]: claimed it. Irene Zimmerman [00:14:38]: And kudos to you. Reginald Ferguson [00:14:39]: Everybody knows. Irene Zimmerman [00:14:41]: Right. But, I mean, you had the foresight you you planned. Reginald Ferguson [00:14:45]: Yes. I did research. I went out on the street and, like, hung out and, like, looked around. Tried a few other places too, places that have full sun, but the other side of the street doesn't have as much foot traffic. So it had to be that side of the street. And then it was a matter of which block is the best block. This is it. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:06]: When you hit on something, you essentially are doing an out door pop up. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:11]: Yes. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:13]: We are literally hitting the middle of December. Yes. You are weather dependent. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:21]: Yes. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:23]: How do you think this is gonna go and for how much longer? Reginald Ferguson [00:15:28]: It will go for as long as my body can take it. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:33]: Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:34]: You know, I I've got lots of layers. I've got little heat pads. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:43]: Wow. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:44]: And, honestly, you know, like, the last 2 weekends, we've had some wind, and I have to stand still and hold my cart so the wind doesn't knock my cart over, which has happened twice now. Irene Zimmerman [00:15:55]: Oh, no. Reginald Ferguson [00:15:56]: Yeah. So when it's windy, I'll I'll sometimes I'll I'll close-up early. You know, if or if I think that the weather is gonna there's gonna be rain or something, I'll close-up early. And I I always post on Instagram if, you know, beforehand to let I don't have too many followers yet. I've only been on Instagram, like, 10, 12 days at this point. Right. But let my followers know if I'm planning to change my hours. Where I used to work, I was I was there for just over a year. Reginald Ferguson [00:16:34]: They always left the door open. My boss said that 30% of business doesn't come in the door if the door is closed. So Mhmm. If it was over 32 degrees outside, the door was wide open. Yeah. And and it was cold. Irene Zimmerman [00:16:53]: Well, I was gonna say, that's what that's what you started to layer up inside a place. Reginald Ferguson [00:16:56]: Inside. Yeah. So I I'm just used to if I get cold, I get cold. When I get home, I'll take a hot bath. Like, just have to be prepared for the weather. Most of it's being prepared. Irene Zimmerman [00:17:13]: Sure. No. Absolutely. And there's no excuse for not being properly prepared. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:16]: Yeah. Mean, if Irene Zimmerman [00:17:17]: You have hand warmers? Reginald Ferguson [00:17:19]: I you know, Sycamore bar has them. They, they sell them. So when I get to my my spot, I go in and I buy a pair. Irene Zimmerman [00:17:30]: Nice. I would recommend you buy them in bulk. Yes. I have done that for something totally different. Reginald Ferguson [00:17:38]: But, Reginald Ferguson [00:17:38]: I wish we won't talk about. Right? Irene Zimmerman [00:17:42]: Yeah. Well, Hey, wait a second It was innocent. But yes, I bought a big box of them Reginald Ferguson [00:17:49]: Yeah, Irene Zimmerman [00:17:50]: so I'm just saying that would be my advice by by a box and bow in terms of the cart. Have you thought of putting weights on the base on the bottom? Reginald Ferguson [00:18:01]: Well, I've gotta bring the weights with me then. Irene Zimmerman [00:18:04]: Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:18:04]: I've gotta Irene Zimmerman [00:18:05]: You would. Reginald Ferguson [00:18:06]: So yeah. Well yeah. But my point is, I've got this big double rack. So it's it's not just one bar. It's 2 bars. Irene Zimmerman [00:18:14]: Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:18:14]: So I've got this big rack with all these clothes, and it's kinda heavy. And I have to navigate it, the 6 blocks down the road to from my house to my spot in Cortellio. So and then I also have to carry weights. No. It's not gonna happen. Irene Zimmerman [00:18:30]: Okay. Reginald Ferguson [00:18:31]: You know, like, people say, why why don't you why don't you sell shoes? Or why don't you sell this? Or why don't you sell that? I go, because I'd have to bring it all with me. It's, you know, it's it's it's sort of part of my language, but it's sort of a pain in the ass. Irene Zimmerman [00:18:46]: No. No. No. No. I understand. I mean, one thought on that Since you're so cool with Sycamore, how about you leave the way to Sycamore? Reginald Ferguson [00:18:55]: They would rather I didn't just because and and that's that's sort of fine with me. I don't I don't mind. I don't mind. Okay. Irene Zimmerman [00:19:07]: Okay. But you led you you said something that I wanna follow-up with a question about certain types of clothing. And we had a conversation on offline that I found interesting, and I would like you to convey it to the audience. Mhmm. There are certain items that you sell, and there are certain items that you don't sell. So can you explain your your your your breakdown, so to speak? So, like, for example, you initially did pants. You don't do pants anymore. Please explain why. Reginald Ferguson [00:19:39]: So when I first started this, it was I mean, Irene Zimmerman [00:19:45]: let me Reginald Ferguson [00:19:45]: back up a second. Irene Zimmerman [00:19:47]: Yeah. What was your mix? Reginald Ferguson [00:19:48]: I could open 2 stores with all the clothes, the amazing clothes that I have donated over the last 15 years of my adult life. I've had great stuff because I've always been into fashion. I've always just given it away because I've always got so much great stuff off of, you know, people's stoops and hand me downs. It's just sort of the kind of person I am to give back to the universe like that. So it never it never bothered me. It never really occurred to me that, oh, well, maybe I should hold on to this. And then with this with the pandemic and have been struggling financially, I was gonna donate stuff. And I said, you know what? How about I spend $50 on a a cart and I try to sell this stuff instead? Because I got nice stuff. Irene Zimmerman [00:20:40]: Right. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:40]: A lot of it, like, my my grandmother's silk scarves from the fifties and cashmere sweaters and, you know, jeans and skirts and, all kinds of things. Irene Zimmerman [00:20:54]: Sure. Reginald Ferguson [00:20:55]: And, you know, with I was able to sell tops. People weren't really interested in the silk scarves. They were interested in my grandmother's, like, Italian leather gloves. Those sold pretty quickly. And no one I think I sold one pair of pants. 2, 3 yeah. 2, 3 weekends, 1 pair of pants. And it's because people, you can't try it on. Reginald Ferguson [00:21:22]: Pants, especially women's pants. It's such the sizing, the cut, the fit. Every woman's body is different. And pants, especially jeans, is notorious, the struggle of trying to hunt down pants that fit properly. I usually start, and then I give up immediately and move on to something else when I'm shopping for myself. So the focus was to have things that I could sell, not stuff that I liked the idea of and would sit around. Irene Zimmerman [00:21:56]: Right. You Reginald Ferguson [00:21:57]: know, being economical just in terms of not just the money that I'm spending, but also in terms of what makes sense. So Irene Zimmerman [00:22:08]: It was it was listening to your customer. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:11]: It was like, yeah, listening Reginald Ferguson [00:22:13]: to your customer. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:15]: Yeah. Watching and seeing how people responded every now and again, I get someone saying, oh, well, I'm looking for a skirt or I'm looking for this. Also, it's a low rack. It's not really tall. So I can't get stuff that's too long because it drags on the floor. Irene Zimmerman [00:22:30]: Right. Right. Reginald Ferguson [00:22:31]: Sure. So no dresses, no long coats. All the coats and jackets that I sell are short, or shorter, anyway. I I mean, I find some gorgeous, like, full length trench coats, London Fog, vintage leather with fur collars. But I can't I can't sell them because they're gonna be dragging all over the ground. Understood. Yeah. I don't know. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:00]: Did I answer that question? I started to answer the question. Irene Zimmerman [00:23:02]: No. You you you you're doing just fine. Okay. So what is your range of decades that defines vintage for you? Reginald Ferguson [00:23:12]: The Fashion Geeks are hosted and powered by Blueberry. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:15]: That's Blueberry, b l u b r r y. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:18]: Thinking of launching a podcast? Want your episodes to be deployed smoothly? Go to, type in the word fashion, Irene Zimmerman [00:23:25]: and get a deal on us. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:26]: Just put in the word fashion. Irene Zimmerman [00:23:28]: Blueberry, always host fly. Reginald Ferguson [00:23:32]: Anything that's in good condition. I mean, if, if it's cool and it's in good shape, I don't care if it's a 100 years old or it's 5 years old. The the other main focus for me in terms of what I'm looking for is natural fiber. I really try to avoid stuff that isn't a 100% natural fiber or at least over 60% natural fiber, unless it's really cool. Like, if something is acrylic, but it's awesome, then it's awesome, and it'll sell. And who cares? But I feel like natural fiber stuff is a better quality. If you take care of it, it'll last you longer. And especially in my neighborhood, with all these families and, you know, we've got a lot of granola crunchy. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:20]: We've got multiple organic stores. We've got herbalists. We've got who I studied with years ago as an apprentice. You know, people are into that a 100% cotton, a 100% this, you know, natural fiber. So, again, it's it's knowing my market, knowing who I'm selling to. Because people people like that. They dig it. Reginald Ferguson [00:24:46]: Sure. So Irene Zimmerman [00:24:49]: what do you think separates your store from spots like Beacon's closet, Buffalo Exchange, and the L train vintage? Reginald Ferguson [00:25:02]: Well, certainly, it's smaller. Irene Zimmerman [00:25:06]: Yeah. You're smaller. You're newer. Reginald Ferguson [00:25:08]: I'm But what else? It's there's a level of curation. You know, like, the natural fibers, what I sell, knowing because I'm so hyperlocal, knowing who my customer is. And then there's, you know, with bigger stores like that, they they just they have so much space, and they can say, well, this is worth this much. This is worth that much. For me, I'm buying stuff, and I'm turning around, and I'm selling it at a flat rate. I can't wait for the right person to come into my store knowing I have 15,000 other items that might sell. I have 40 items that I would like to move as quickly as possible. So I've got Oscar de la Renta men's pullovers. Reginald Ferguson [00:26:07]: Those are $20. I've also got Alfani. Those are $20. I've you know, if it's a top, it's 20. If it's a code, it's 30. And that's the end of it. And people respond to that because it makes easy for them. It makes it easy for me. Reginald Ferguson [00:26:28]: And I sell stuff. Because I I don't wanna sit on things. I wanna sell stuff. Right. I mean, I mean, that's the main difference is a place like L train, they're, you know, they're looking at stuff, and they're saying, well, what is this worth? Some stuff, you know, it's worth some real money. I have a I have a Knoll and Carter leather jacket that I found, and I looked it up, and it's, like, a $200 jacket. That one that one, I'm I might hold back and try to sell online, which is something I'm just beginning to consider doing, for specialty items. But generally, flat rates. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:11]: My original business plan from years ago was to have a business and call it shut up and wear it, where you like it. Does it fit you? Tags don't matter. Just shut up and wear. It. Happy. Yeah. But I thought that was a little too aggressive. Irene Zimmerman [00:27:26]: Yeah. Well, you've you've come a long way because of your, you know, Irene's closet BK, which is smooth. And you have a cool tagline that I've jumped on, and I've actually used it as a as a nickname for you. Yes. Killer looks for men and women. Reginald Ferguson [00:27:41]: Yes. Irene Zimmerman [00:27:42]: So are these killer looks? Because, you know, I haven't been there yet. So Reginald Ferguson [00:27:47]: They are killer looks. And, you know, every so many people have different style. And fashion right now is so inspired by, you know, sort of gender neutral Asian aesthetic, straight line pants, very, very plain, very comfortable. And what's a killer look to me or to you isn't necessarily a killer look to someone who's 22. Reginald Ferguson [00:28:13]: Sure. Reginald Ferguson [00:28:14]: But good taste and good style is I mean, it doesn't matter what you wear. If you look fly as hell, then you look fly as hell. So I try to yeah. So I, you know, I try to have like, I'm more adventurous with the way that I dress or I like to be. But not everybody wants to dress loudly. So I do have loud, eccentric, wild stuff. And I also have lots of basics, you know, like nice cashmere brown sweaters or mauve or red. I I I do, for display, I do the ROY g biff. Reginald Ferguson [00:28:54]: I do the rainbow. I organize it by color because it has to be aesthetically striking out on the street to draw people in. So so, like, the presentation is part of the killer look as well. Irene Zimmerman [00:29:09]: Right. So you do a color array. You also have your sign. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:14]: Mhmm. My goofy little sign. Irene Zimmerman [00:29:18]: Yeah. Well, you know, you could you could upgrade your sign if you so choose. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:21]: I plan to upgrade my sign. I'm I am planning an upgrade. It is it exists in my mind. It is about to exist in real life. Irene Zimmerman [00:29:30]: Are you thinking of upgrading your racks as well or no? Reginald Ferguson [00:29:37]: Not right now. What I've got works. You know, it's the middle of winter, Or hopefully, it's the middle of winter or maybe the beginning of winter. Yeah. Irene Zimmerman [00:29:49]: The beginning of winter. Reginald Ferguson [00:29:50]: The beginning of winter. And I'm doing pretty well. You know? So once spring comes, it's gonna pop off. I mean, people if I'm doing well now, it's gonna be wild once it starts getting nice out. I'm definitely gonna stay out later because there'll be more sun. It'll be out longer. So, you know, hopefully hopefully, all of that works out, I guess. Irene Zimmerman [00:30:21]: Sure. Sure. Well, fingers crossed. I mean, you're doing well so far. 2 months in, new in the game, fresh face. But you have repeat you have repeat business? Reginald Ferguson [00:30:30]: I do. I've got a let's see. There's Crystal who always comes by, and at the very least, we stop and we chat. There's Yuri who has sensitive skin and prefers cashmere. So I always keep my eye out for a men's large and cashmere sweaters. I actually, I I got something for him, and he came by this this past weekend and said, you know, I don't have a cash on me. I'm gonna come by next week. And I said, alright, Yuri. Reginald Ferguson [00:30:56]: I'll hold it to for you to next weekend. But after that, I gotta put it out. There's I don't even know their names. Married couple. I know him from the bar. Or I I know him. I recognize him from the bar. I see him hanging out with his boys at the bar all the time. Reginald Ferguson [00:31:14]: And she's bought a bunch of sweaters from me. She's bought all of my favorite things. Irene Zimmerman [00:31:19]: Nice. Reginald Ferguson [00:31:19]: Yeah. And he, once I started carrying men's wear, you know, I really try to let people know that this whole section, this whole side is my menswear section. Oh, wow. Menswear section. So he bought something from me, which was nice. And I I see them every single weekend. So it's, that's terrific. I I just wish I knew their names. Irene Zimmerman [00:31:47]: Why do you think it's important for the everyday man to seek vintage as an option? Reginald Ferguson [00:31:56]: I think that I mean, in general, reducing and reusing and recycling has immense value in today's world. I also think that a lot of new stuff isn't really well made. And from my observations, men shop very differently from women. They're more likely to spend more money to get better quality and hold vintage items are made to last. And I think that there's real value when you look at it that way, for men to buy vintage pieces. And again, you know, they just they're fun. They have they have style. They've got substance. Reginald Ferguson [00:32:52]: They've got great cuts, great prints. Yeah. I mean, I've got this beautiful merino wool Brooks Brothers cardigan in, like, a dark lavender. And I'm just I'm just waiting for the right guy to come by and get it. It's gorgeous. Irene Zimmerman [00:33:09]: You know? The right guy, his name is caustic man. Caustic man, if you're listening, you better holler at this girl. Reginald Ferguson [00:33:15]: Yeah. And I and yesterday, I found a light, a light lavender fine merino men's pullover. So Irene Zimmerman [00:33:26]: You got options, people. Reginald Ferguson [00:33:27]: Yeah. Purple. It's beautiful. Why not? Irene Zimmerman [00:33:31]: So you hinted at something. Are you considering going online and doing ecommerce? Like, sell on Ebay or Etsy or Etsy or Etsy or Insta? Reginald Ferguson [00:33:42]: I am. It was really it was this, Knowles and Carter coat that did it for me because it it feels like butter. It's just exquisite. And it's in perfect condition. And asking $30 for something that's worth I mean, I'd I'd charge a 100, probably. You know? It's worth 200. I charge 100. If I could get 100, I would appreciate it. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:11]: But I can't I can't get 100 on the street. You know? If I go out there, and I'm like, well, this is $60. This is a $100. People will go, wow. I agree with you. It's worth it, but I'm not going buy it. So my sense is the best way for me to get the money that certain items, every now and again, something special, that that those items' merit is to sell them online. And I'd probably do it through Instagram because my focus right now is my Instagram page, is using it as a display window as of sorts. Reginald Ferguson [00:34:49]: Sure. So it's the best place for the community and for potential customers to keep up with me and see what I'm doing and see where I'm going and see what what outfits and and items I have in stock. Reginald Ferguson [00:35:10]: So I don't want you to give away any secrets. Reginald Ferguson [00:35:13]: Yes. Because I won't. Irene Zimmerman [00:35:15]: No, no, I know you won't, but I'm curious and I'm hoping our listeners are to. Where do you look for your gear? How do you source it? What's your methodology? How does all this work? Reginald Ferguson [00:35:30]: Well, I have been thrift shopping since I was in middle school, and I just I'm I speed through stuff. I go racks on racks on racks, and I just look for stuff that looks cool. I pull it out, see if it's in good condition. I see if it's as cool as I thought it was, you know, in that microsecond, just catching it with my eye. And if it is, I throw it in one of my big bags. And then when I get to the checkout counter and I start to unpack, that's sometimes when I I'll weed a few things out. Like, okay. You know what? Actually, I'm not gonna take this. Reginald Ferguson [00:36:14]: Actually, I'm not gonna take that. But I just want to grab as much of the best stuff that I can and then fine tune it later. Irene Zimmerman [00:36:27]: Now what do you mean when you say fine tune it later? Reginald Ferguson [00:36:29]: Well, fine tune it like, when I get to when I get to the checkout counter. Oh, oh, okay. Start to unpack things to go to pay for them. I'll pull something out, and I'll be like, you know what? I already have something that's sort of like this. I don't need another one of these or something that, you know or I'll pull something out and go, you know what? Nobody's buying gray right now. This is silly. I'm not going to buy this. Irene Zimmerman [00:36:49]: Understood. Yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:36:50]: Gray is beautiful, but it's the the black and the and the gray, people are not buying, which I'm glad about because it's winter. Why would you wanna dress in black and gray in winter? It's the best. Well, during a pandemic is depressing. Irene Zimmerman [00:37:10]: Yeah. No, I do know. Listen, It's all subjective to each his own, right? Well, we have covered a lot for someone who has a young business. And I'm really intrigued about how you're gonna continue on. I mean, in a way, Irene, to be honest, you're like you're like the postal service. You're going to be out there regardless. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:36]: I'm going to be out there regardless. Irene Zimmerman [00:37:38]: Yeah. Rain sleet of snow layered up for you to go. Hey, I can't wait till spring. It's I don't sense that you're taking a break. You're just gonna go through. Reginald Ferguson [00:37:49]: I'm just taking it. You know, I'm taking it 1 week and one weekend at a time. You know, some weeks I'll go out shopping, and the stuff that I find is you know, it it's 6 to 5 and pick them. Sometimes I go out, and I find so much great stuff. And even now, you know, I'm finding I'm letting myself shop for spring because I'm finding such great stuff and standing there and looking at it. Just going, you know what? Screw it. I'm gonna buy it. Like, it's here now. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:22]: I am also here now. Let's do it. Because once spring does come, to just have already have my stock and I'm finding with the shopping. For me, shopping for a business is a brand new experience, not just for myself or for fun. So for example, I was shopping yesterday, and pretty much all the sweaters, the heavy winter sweaters have been picked clean. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:55]: Oh. Reginald Ferguson [00:38:56]: So, you know, so for me, I'm thinking, well, I need a lot of winter sweaters, but so does everybody else. I should've I should've been buying more winter sweaters in September or over the summer, But I wasn't shopping over the summer. So for me now learning that and going, Okay, well, this is how I need to think about things. So I'm shopping now for spring. I'm not going crazy because I don't wanna spend all my money on spring stuff and then have nothing left for, for the rare sweater that I do find. I try to keep my budget at, at $60 a week for Oh. New stuff. Yeah. Irene Zimmerman [00:39:37]: It was $60. How many items of clothing can you get through your source? Reginald Ferguson [00:39:44]: I I average $3.50 an item. Irene Zimmerman [00:39:50]: What? Reginald Ferguson [00:39:52]: Yes. Irene Zimmerman [00:39:56]: Yeah. No, I don't know. I don't know much about vintage Reginald Ferguson [00:39:59]: to really be honest. I'm aware of it, but Irene Zimmerman [00:40:03]: I don't I don't claim to know a lot. And I certainly, you know, I don't source things, but not like that. Right. Let's go to retail. Right? Or to a tail. So wow. 3.50 a pop. That's a Reginald Ferguson [00:40:16]: I, Irene Zimmerman [00:40:16]: seem to be too bad. Reginald Ferguson [00:40:19]: Well, you know so I'm I'm gonna talk some real math. And this is sort of my private business, but also your listeners, I'm sure people who are interested 200 a weekend, and I usually need that. Sometimes I'm over. Lately, I've been over for which I am grateful. Some weekends, there was my first weekend, I did $35. Gross. There were you know, 2, 3 weekends ago, I grossed 45 doll $145. You know? So I'm not I need to spend as little as possible to be able to put some money away for groceries. Reginald Ferguson [00:41:15]: You know, I'm unemployed and bills and to put money away for my my $60 weekly budget and put a little bit away in savings. I try to save a little bit of money every week as well. But, you know, like, I'm I'm making $6 to $800 a month and literally supporting myself off of it. Irene Zimmerman [00:41:44]: Wow. No. You are I mean, this is an inspirational story. This is a COVID story. It's a fashion story. It's all these things. But, I mean, really, kudos to you with the vision, but also for the perseverance. So you have a passion for it, and you love it. Irene Zimmerman [00:42:02]: That's clear. But like you said, this is a business. This isn't a hobby. You have build, and you're you're trying to make things happen. Reginald Ferguson [00:42:11]: Yeah. You know, when I first started, like I said, I was I was selling my stuff, and and just combing my clothing racks and saying, well, what else could I sell? What else could I sell? Do I really need to hold on to all this stuff? And I've worked in so many places where there's there's candles and there's potted plants and there's burnt sage, and there's all these beautiful women's clothes. And then men come in. And they say, do you have a men's section? I I unfortunately have to say, yeah. There's, like, 5 shirts over there in that corner. And I hated that. I hated men coming in. And there was just nothing for them. Reginald Ferguson [00:42:58]: And I always promised myself if I ever had a place on my own, it would be 5050. Because, 1, men like to look fly. And 2, menswear is fly, and it's super fun to shop for because men take better care of their clothes. And so I find stuff in better condition. With the women's wear, I find amazing stuff. No doubt. But, but in men's wear, more of the items are in better shape. So Irene Zimmerman [00:43:31]: Well, Irene, we are drawing to a close. Can you please let everyone know whether they can find you on Insta and where they can find you Saturdays Sundays from 12 to 4? Reginald Ferguson [00:43:44]: Yes. Indeed. I am on Instagram at Irene's closet b k. And you can find me on Saturdays Sundays, 12 to 4, outside 1118 Cortellio Road, otherwise known as Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop. And that's that's it. It's it's terrific fun. Come by. Say hello. Reginald Ferguson [00:44:15]: I've got a mirror. You can try stuff on if you want to. And Irene Zimmerman [00:44:18]: Nice. Reginald Ferguson [00:44:19]: Yeah. Well, you know, people wanna look good. They gotta be sure. Reginald Ferguson [00:44:24]: Yeah. No. I agree. I Irene Zimmerman [00:44:25]: agree. Yeah. So, Irene, I like to ask this of every one of our guests, and you have peppered this word throughout the, interview unprovoked. What does always be fly mean to you? Reginald Ferguson [00:44:46]: There's, so there's a thing that I say, and this is sort of risque. There's a thing that I say, and it's an attitude towards life. I tell people, you know, enjoy life, flap your titties. Just go out, flap them in the breeze, live your best life, be your best self. So always be fly to me is synonymous with the, like, the attitude of this flapping your titties. I say this to men. I say this to women, but it's a vibe. And yeah. Reginald Ferguson [00:45:22]: Enjoy life. Be fly. Flap your titties. Irene Zimmerman [00:45:26]: Okay. I Reginald Ferguson [00:45:29]: don't know. Maybe I scare people. Irene Zimmerman [00:45:31]: I didn't, yeah. I didn't expect that one. And, I'm looking down at my chest. So Reginald Ferguson [00:45:37]: You should flap your titties too. It feels amazing. Ride a bicycle. Eat an apple. Oops. Get on a ferry. Irene Zimmerman [00:45:46]: I mean, Zimmerman of Irene's closet b k. Really a pleasure. We gotta have you come on again. Reginald Ferguson [00:45:53]: Absolutely, man. Irene Zimmerman [00:45:55]: Good luck. God speed Reginald Ferguson [00:45:56]: you, too. Thanks for having me Peace. Irene Zimmerman [00:46:01]: Well, that's a wrap. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you had fun and are down for another one. Special shout goes to our producer Serge and everyone down with the fashion piece. Please tell your friends about us and please tell them to subscribe. You can find us on all the major platforms. Also, please give us a review on Apple Podcasts. If you have a question or a story suggestion, you can email me at podcast at ny fashion geek dot com or hit me up on insta at new fashion geek. Irene Zimmerman [00:46:31]: I'm Reg. See you next time. And remember, always be faster.
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