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Interview with Robbie Walter: Owner of Iron City Steels

As our world and fashion trends progress, in the last few years, sustainability and choosing to buy from companies and stores that have products secondhand that are environmentally friendly rather than fast fashion companies that leave an enormous environmental footprint and are not always run too ethically. People are becoming more conscious of where the products they buy are coming from, how they are made, what they are made with and so forth. Thrifting has become highly popularized in recent years and has become almost a fashion trend to find unique, second hand, one of a kind clothing and accessory items. Other than the fact that thrifting is super fun and almost like a scavenger hunt to see what type of exciting, new finds but also buying second hand is great for the environment and your bank account! A bonus!

My friend back home, Robbie Walter, Pittsburgh born and raised, resells thrifted and vintage clothing he finds. He then began selling these cool finds on Instagram to share with others. His Instagram page where he sells is @ironcitysteels in reference to the iron city of Pittsburgh known for our history of steel production which plays onto the word steals referencing Robbie’s vintage and thrifted finds not found anywhere else! These secondhand products will have you thinking “What a steal!”. I am a huge fan of all things vintage, and I have been loving going all over my local area to different thrift stores to see the types of cool and unique items I could find on a budget! I also happen to be an avid follower of Robbie’s and his Instagram site, so I decided to reach out to Robbie to talk to him and ask him a few questions about what he does, how he does it, and why.

Q: What do you do?

A: I buy and sell vintage clothing or secondhand clothing that you can’t find anywhere else.

Q: Where do u typically buy your thrifted clothing and what is the buying strategy for you?

A: I usually thrift my clothes at Goodwills, secondhand shops, yard sales, goodwill bins, or off people in my community looking to clear their houses. Most of the time when I’m buying my clothes to sell, I usually try to buy something that I would wear personally or that I would like my friends or family to wear. However, there are also pieces I buy that have meaning or are sought after in my vintage community.

Q: What is the process after buying?

A: After I purchase, I usually go home wash and curate all the clothes and cut the tags off without harming the fabric then I’ll take pictures of them with good lighting trying to show off the details and the wear on the items. Then I’ll take pictures of them to post on multiple apps such as Depop, Grailed, Instagram, and Mercari. Once all that is done, I’ll stock them away in my inventory/ show room.

Q: Where do you sell your products and how do you market yourself?

A: When I market my clothes/ collectibles I try to keep it within the community and the fashion field posting my clothes to my Instagram is usually the best way to reach people that are into vintage. Sometimes I’ll go to pop up shops or stores that sell the same things as I do, and I’ll talk and get my name out there. I also have stickers on and in the packages, I ship out which usually gains me followers and eyes towards my accounts.

Q: What made you start your shop?

A: When I first started selling clothes I originally started selling my own clothes that I bought from second hand stores or concerts to make some extra cash but then the more I started working at my old job the more I realized I hated having someone control my income and my behavior ( like how I carried myself and the way I would talk to peers or new people) anyways the more and more I worked the better the income became and the more I got myself involved in it the better I got and now it’s a full time thing that just keeps growing and as a side note it’s made me so much happier being able to supply someone and seeing the smiles on their face holding something they actually love and appreciate and just being able to talk to people the way I’d talk to my friends and not as an employee or a boss( the vintage field isn’t a business field it’s a community)

After speaking with Robbie, I found a new appreciation for small businesses like his own, how much goes into the work that they do, and the importance of supporting your local small business owners. I absolutely love his Instagram page and find myself browsing for new items for my wardrobe way too often. Instead of having to browse hours in your favorite thrift or vintage store, he has the coolest items already picked out for you to purchase! I hope you all are able to enjoy your thrift journeys and show some support to Robbie and his page @ironcitysteels for some awesome new pieces especially for the fall!

Written By: Gabriella Palmer

Edited By: Crystal Lord

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