Just 21-years-old, Lawrence resident Kyle Trompeter has already achieved celebrity status in the world of thrifting.
In 2011, entrepreneur Simon Beckerman bestowed a gift upon the digital-fashion world: Depop, a simple mobile marketplace aimed toward consumer-based buying and selling. Set up to look like a social media feed, users can scroll through tens of thousands of sellers from all over the world mainly offering vintage or second-hand clothing items for a reasonable price.
While there is certainly an abundance of sellers, there’s a small elite group that dominates the Depop game. One of which is Trompeter, who has over 26,000 followers.
“It was 2016 and I was looking for clothes, so my sister told me to check out [Depop],” Trompeter said. “It was when people were finding out about it and I looked and thought ‘whatever’. Then a few months later I saw all these people selling things, so I went to Goodwill and I’d find cool stuff and just put an item up on there. It just happened to get featured on the main page and people started commenting.”
I just kept posting and it spiraled and spiraled.
To Trompeter, it seemed his success took off with little to no difficulty.
“I just kept posting and it spiraled and spiraled,” Trompeter said. “I grew a brand based on what my pictures looked like. People really like that I smile in every one of them; they thought it was cute. Over a year I got really big and in the past two years it’s just been a constant, always working.”
While Trompeter feels he hit the lottery, there is still a method to his reselling, and most of it lies in how he finds his product.
“I used to go to our Goodwill, but it’s pretty picked over, and Salvation Army never gets anything new,” Trompeter says. “I go to this Goodwill outlet in Kansas City where they have these big bins that change out every 30 minutes. It’s definitely stuff they just took out of bags and threw in there, stuff that you would pay $5 for at our Goodwill but you pay by the pound. That’s what changed it all. That’s why I can charge so little and have free shipping, and that’s why people buy from me.”
Reselling takes the dedication of devoting large amounts of time to actually sift through these bins. Potentially 8 hours a day at this outlet, three days a week, Trompeter assures that the time spent is well worth it.
“I go to Johnson County part-time, so I go after class,” Trompeter says. “When it started, I was 18 and it very quickly became that I didn’t need any other job to support myself. I was selling things constantly and every day I have like 15 packages. I also do Ebay — and I actually make most of my money through there — but I like Depop more.”
Trompeter’s life has changed drastically since stumbling into the resell world and understands he’s living very differently than others his age.
“My life is odd. I can make my own schedule. If I want to not do something for an hour, I don’t have to,” Trompeter says. “My friend and I are looking at moving to Colorado, and it’s crazy that if the thrift stores aren’t good, then I’m not going to move there — because that’s my job.”
Another unexpected part of the Depop career is this whole new community Trompeter has found himself a part of.
“The community of top sellers has a lot of people now,” Trompeter says. “You have to make around $2,000 a month to be considered one,”
This past summer, they invited him to New York for a big convention that Trompeter said was “more like a big party.” It was three days and they invited around 50 people, but only chose around eight who weren’t living in New York.
“When they brought us there, they threw this party, brought all these DJs and we sold our stuff,” Trompeter says. “It was really fun because I met all these people who were doing the same thing that I’m doing.”
Currently, Trompeter is working on completing his Associate’s degree in order to have a fall back if Depop or Ebay dries up at any point. The hope is that it doesn’t.
“I know a lot of people are doing this part time and they’re working towards a career. But for me, if this plays on for the next 15 years, that’s fine with me,” Trompeter says. “I figure, if I’m wearing it, then someone will buy it. If I put my spirit into my Depop then someone will think that it’s cool.”