Reaching into the dead woman’s closet, Shivani Lindmeir pulled out a blood-orange three-piece outfit with a fur collar.

“Wow, that looks very retro,” said an elderly man passing through the room, on his own search for orphaned treasures at the Olympus Cove estate sale. “I think you need the right boots for it,” he added, suggesting 1960s go-go style.

Lindmeir, 21, smiled. “I think I could make that happen.”

Lindmeir and her mother, Nancy, run The Thrill of a Thrift, a 2-year-old online clothing store on Etsy, a website for handmade and vintage goods. Their trawling of yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales from Ogden to Point of the Mountain fills their store with colorful, texture-focused and feminine wear often tilting towards prints, such as iconic Gunne Sax prairie dresses. Their aesthetic has won them clients from Chicago to Australia, from out-of-state collectors to movie costume designers.

They hope being first-time vendors at the DIY festival Craft Lake City at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City, celebrating its 10th anniversary Friday through Sunday, will further boost their local visibility and sales.

10th annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival
The festival offers vintage and upcycled goods, art and other wares from more than 250 local exhibitors, along with food, live performances and demonstrations.
When • Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5 single admission, $10 three-pack, $25 VIP; craftlakecity.com, 24tix.com

The online vintage market has become increasingly competitive, a commercial vibrancy the Lindmeirs both welcome and are wary of. Some new vendors were inspired by “Girl Boss,” the 2017 Netflix comedy about a true-life vintage entrepreneur, while others have sought to develop a presence on the sales app Depop or through Instagram.

Vintage has always been around, said Patrick Hafner, owner of A1 Estate Sales. While the 2008 recession killed it off, “now it’s going real strong again,” he said, with Salt Lake City still an inexpensive source of vintage clothing compared with major metropolitan centers.

‘Walking into the past’

A recent August day of vintage-hunting for the the Lindmeirs began with the Olympus Cove estate sale in the former home of an elderly couple. It was akin to stepping into a 1950s bubble, with a bold pink carpet in one room, vibrant green shag in another, and an avocado-green General Electric oven in the kitchen.

Part of the thrill of thrifting is “walking into the past,” Lindmeir said. “I’ve always wanted the experience of living in a different era. It’s fun to feel that energy.”

She finds estate sales a little sad on occasion. But she noted that possessions cared for by a former owner would, through a vintage buyer, eventually find a home with “someone who would love them also.”

She picked up a $10 large round wicker basket with a flower design stitched onto its lid, a prize she’d spotted the day before on the estate sale website. “It’s still here!”

This was one item she wanted for herself, although she had no immediate use in mind. “It’s really speaking to me. Eclectic, bohemian. And very feminine.”

She also bought a 1960s cream wedding dress and a black suitcase with a four-color braid and a combination lock, which she thought she might sell at Craft Lake City.

But the promising 1970s skirt-vest-jacket set proved to be a disappointment. Lindmeir pointed to dark brown fibers that littered the inside of the coat before putting it back in the closet. Over time, polyester disintegrates, she said. “I won’t be able to do anything with this.”

‘You try to conquer’

After a yard sale on the border of Sugar House and Millcreek offered few items of interest, the Lindmeirs went to a Savers store on 3300 South in Millcreek. “You walk in a store, you just go, you try to conquer,” Nancy Lindmeir said, pushing a cart behind her daughter.

While she does the lion’s share of the company’s business — handling shipping, financing, storage and much of the purchasing — Lindmeir is the style guru.

Vintage clothing is prone to the same abrupt changes in taste as any other fashion, she said. The color palette in vogue — currently primary yellows, reds and royal blues — changes every few months. Traditional vintage items from the 1940s and 1950s vie for attention with more quixotic and short-lived trends, such as jumpsuits and casual 1990s athletic wear and denim.

The key to successful shopping in thrift stores, Lindmeir said, is rotating through a variety of shops. “If you hit the same one again and again, it starts to get overpicked by you,” she said. “You end up recognizing the same dress you saw a year ago.”

She pulled a Dolce and Gabbana black and gold tank from a rack and pondered it. While this was a designer item that would sell for $100 new at Nordstrom, “I wouldn’t be stoked to wear it,” she said.

Making money was important, but she had to weigh that against building her brand. If it wasn’t special or unique to her, then it didn’t fit into her aesthetic.

“By having an amazing collection, you can stand out,” she said.

When a store employee set out a new stash of Gucci and Hermes ties, she knew they would sell. She scooped up the entire haul.

‘The greatest rush’

On this shopping day, Lindmeir wore an ensemble that reflected her vintage passions: 1990s sandals, a 1960s white cropped top and 1970s high-waisted, bell-bottom pants, a revitalized style she said she loves. “I hope it doesn’t end soon.”

The second youngest of six children in her Davis County family, she would go thrifting on the basis of her mother’s promise that they would find American Girl dolls (they never did). “I just don’t like going by myself,” Nancy Lindmeir said, laughing.

As a teenager, Lindmeir would scour Deseret Industries in Layton for 1980s acid-washed high-waisted pants, which were just coming back into fashion. She’d find vintage clothing at thrift stores and then deconstruct it, adding lace panels, bleaching or distressing it, before selling it on eBay or at school.

She initially had aspirations to be a fashion designer. But during her last year of high school, she changed her mind, deciding to study for a teaching degree and pursue thrift and vintage clothing as a hobby. Mother and daughter enjoy the time they spend together.

“It’s a 100 percent why I love this,” Nancy Lindmeir said. “It’s the way we stay close and connected.”

One of their favorite discovery stories: While getting a smoothie in Bountiful in 2016, they stumbled across a yard sale of former inventory from a high-end thrift store.

Along with denim and sports clothing and Ralph Lauren pieces, there was a trove from Tommy Hilfiger, then enjoying a brief resurgence in popularity at high schools.

They spent $40 on 41 items. They made $150 selling a large metallic Hilfiger windbreaker logo sign, just one of the sales from the single most profitable shopping experience they’ve had.

“It was the greatest rush I’ve ever had in my life thrifting,” Lindmeir said. “I wish we could still go back to this day.”

10th annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival
The festival offers vintage and upcycled goods, art and other wares from more than 250 local exhibitors, along with food, live performances and demonstrations.
When • Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5 single admission, $10 three-pack, $25 VIP; craftlakecity.com, 24tix.com


Correction: 2:35 p.m. Aug. 11: The store name has been corrected to The Thrill of a Thrift.