One of the largest obstacles to making a sale in a vintage clothing store is how the article actually fits. Let’s face it, almost everything is a vintage clothing store is a one-off, it’s not like the customer can get the item in size larger or smaller. Often times taking an inch of of the seam, or a half inch of of the cuff is all it takes to turn over-sized item into the perfect fit. When you offer your clients the opportunity to get their items altered it will amaze you to see how many more items your clients start purchasing.
Setting up an in-store alteration center
Setting up an in-store alteration center is easier than you might think. First you need to find a place to put an alteration station. This can be behind the shop, in another building or on the shop floor if you have the space. The alteration station must have a work table, a sewing machine, possibly a serger, and all of the alteration knick-knacks like pins, chalk, measuring devices, scissors, thread etc.
Hiring a Seamstress
Once you have an alteration station set up you need to hire a seamstress or employees that know how to sew. One way to get an employee with an interest in sewing and alterations is to offer a internship program to a local design school. Design schools are often looking for places for their students to an intern, a vintage clothing store that offers alterations is the perfect place for an inspiring young fashion designer. Even if you do not want to work with interns, posting the job at a local design school is a great place to find someone that will fit the bill.
Another option, although it may be more complicated, is to find someone else that can do the alterations, like a seamstress that works from home. Have them work with your employees on how to take proper measurements. Once you get an item in you can contact the seamstress for a pick-up and drop-off. You can find people that might be interested by posting an add to your local craigslist or fashion school. Be sure to interview them first and give them a couple of samples to work on before choosing who you will work with.
It is very important that there is proper communication between the client, the person taking the measurement, and the seamstress making the alterations. In some cases this might all be the same person, but in other cases it could be a combination of a few people. The person taking the measurements may not know how to tailor the garment, and that is fine, what is important is that they take good measurements.
To ensure that their is proper documentation and communication between all of the parties involved we created and use an in-store seamstress worksheet. Once printed and cut these individual slips can be filled out and attached with each garment. One set is for items purchased from the store, and the other set is for items purchased elsewhere, if you want to offer that service it is up to you.