Native East Texas collector James Sillivan Jr. was born to thrift.
“As soon as I turned 16 and got my license, I started driving myself to the thrift stores,” says the 43-year old. “Back in high school, I used to go to the Salvation Army and Goodwill all the time. It’s there that I began buying vintage clothing to wear to school. I enjoyed having a wardrobe that was unique and inexpensive.”
Today the full-time thrifter sells his wares on Etsy, pop up events and flea markets. Monthly we source items from Sillivan at First Monday Trade Days for our online shop. We sat down with the collector to learn more about him and his cool business.
What was your first find ever?
I remember going into a thrift store in downtown Greenville and buying a pair of black 1970s platform shoes!
What’s your favorite thing to collect?
Metal lunch boxes. I have about 40 in my collection and would love more if storage wasn’t an issue!
How did you get involved with First Monday Trade Days?
I had started selling in 2014 at vintage markets and flea markets and it was the next step to go set up at America’s largest flea market! So in May of 2015 my friend Rachel introduced me to the Canton world — and I’ve been a vendor here ever since.
Why do you love vending there?
I love my location in Canton. It’s the best place to shop outside in the summertime. I’m under the trees on row 97 unit 14 and 15 next to the band stage.
Where do you mostly collect your finds?
I mostly collect my finds from shopping at garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores.
How would you describe your collection’s style in three words?
Unique, random, eclectic.
What is the most special or unique thing you’ve ever found in a flea market?
The best thing that I ever found was an immaculate red crushed velvet upholstered round bed from the late ’60s.
What do you sell the most of?
I sell lots of old rusty bed springs in Canton. People love to make cool things out of them.
Do you have a certain shopper in mind when sourcing product, or can anyone find something within your collection?
I think anyone can find something they can take home when they come shop with me. You never know what I’m going to bring and I keep prices really reasonable.
Is it ever a challenge to find cool, unique pieces?
It is pretty easy for me to find cool unique pieces because I’m always shopping around. This is how I make my living. I’m always on the lookout for cool stuff.
What’s your best advice for first time shoppers at First Monday Trade Days?
My advice would be to bring lots of cash, wear comfortable shoes and bring a cart for all the items you buy. Simple as that!
Is your home decorated with your vintage finds?
My home does have a few cool things. I mean… I don’t have to sell everything!
Meet James at First Monday Trade Days next month from March 1-4. We will be shopping the flea market March 2, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a small group of shoppers. If you’d like to join us, email email@example.com to learn more. To shop our latest finds from First Monday, visit shopfleastyle.com!