Thrift stores are a great place to find great brands at heavily discounted prices. The presence of resale stores, such as Goodwill, has allowed people to start resale businesses. I’m talking selling something for tens to hundreds of dollars more than what you originally paid for it. This practice is completely legal.
Jade Myers is a business owner that has found immense success in reselling. Her Poshmark closet, “Ornamental Stone,” has over 207,000 followers and her Instagram, “fashionwithouttrashin,” has over 107,000 followers. Both numbers are growing at a rapid pace.
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Myers has sourced thousands of luxurious brands which she has been able to flip at a great profit. Recently, she unknowingly thrifted unreleased samples from the WeWoreWhat x Onia swimwear collaboration. Her troubles started after she listed her finds.
Myers was contacted by Danielle Bernstein, the founder of WeWoreWhat blog. Bernstein asked Myers where she got the swim pieces and revealed that Myers had listed unreleased samples which were dropped off by an Onia employee at Goodwill by accident. “Someone made a mistake and dropped a box of my samples at Goodwill,” she messaged Myers through Instagram Direct Messages. Bernstein offered to buy all of the pieces Myers found and agreed to pay the resale value for all of the pieces. “I will pay for every single piece.”
After having an employee take all of the pieces down, Myers sent Bernstein an invoice for the total cost of goods. The total came out to $13000. Bernstein objected to the cost. “I’m not paying you for the retail value. I’m paying you for the cost of what you paid for the goods, which I was actually under the impression that they were very cheap,” Bernstein wrote in an email to Myers. She proceeded to demand the Goodwill receipts.
When Myers refused to send her the receipts, Bernstein told her that she is in contact with the CEO of Poshmark and, if Myers were to put the items back on sale, she will shut down her business. She also got her attorney involved.
That’s when Myers took to Instagram stories and, through tears, shared the debacle with the reseller community.
Bernstein, who is currently shooting for the WeWoreWhat Spring collection, has responded on her own Instagram stories that she supports “small businesses and female entrepreneurs,” and the entire situation has been a case of miscommunication.
Legally, Myers did not do anything wrong. Resellers are protected by the first sale doctrine, which states that “anyone who purchases a branded item has a right to resell that item in an unchanged state.” As soon as Myers bought the items at Goodwill, she gained the right to sell them to whoever she pleases. However, the situation exposes the larger problem of how a major business can threaten a small business. Bernstein has access to more business capital and was able to hire an attorney. This is an expense many small business owners cannot easily afford, especially when the source of their income is in jeopardy. While it will be interesting to see how the situation is resolved, we cannot ignore that Myers has become a scapegoat for the mistakes of an employee at Onia.
EDIT: As of January 24, 2020, Myers and Bernstein have worked out a resolution. Myers posted on Instagram that, after their meeting, Bernstein agreed that We Wore What would cover “the costs associated with the items being listed and removed, COG, employee pay, photoshoot, etc + replaced my items with current season WWW + covered the costs to shoot and list the new items.” That means, shoppers can soon find current season We Wore What items in the Ornamental Stone Poshmark closet! Myers has also shipped back all of the unreleased samples she found to We Wore What.
In the end, face-to-face communication resolved the ordeal of the mistakenly donated samples. If there’s any more lessons we can take away from this, it’s that social media isn’t always the best medium for discussing business transactions.