mpscreenshot2Vintage Guru Pamela Castillo is the creative mastermind behind Market Publique, the only online marketplace dedicated to vintage fashion. In essence it’s an eBay for vintage lovers. Interested? Well we certainly are, which is why we’ve interviewed the lady herself to give us insight into the website, tell us about the inspiration behind her look and give us tips on where to shop in NYC. 

Lara Beard for  Tell us about how you came up with Market Publique?

Pamela Castillo: I have been an avid collector of vintage ever since I can remember. My grandma and I would go hunting for treasures together and I was also always raiding her drawers. I just loved all the vintage buttons, ribbons, gloves and all those things they don’t really make any more. Plus all things came with a story, which is how I fell in love with it.

When I moved to New York, I realized I had way more things than I could keep in my tiny apartment, so I started to cull through my collection. Plus, with the huge selection of high-end vintage in the city, it made sense to sell some of it and buy nicer versions. And I could never stop buying vintage as it’s too exciting to find something unique that you’ll probably never come across again.

I started buying and selling on eBay but got frustrated with their change in policies and fees, so I looked for alternatives. I tried selling Etsy for a while, but it was not working well for me as I had little control over how my store looked and when items sold. I missed having the advantages of auctions, like having all the listings end at once (which means I get to ship once a week or so), plus bidding is just so much fun! And pricing is much easier, as I can set a minimum price and have the buyers decide how much they would like to pay for it.

P1030248I thought of making my own standalone online boutique. However, I knew that what would be ideal would be to have a lot of vintage in one place so that buyers would be more likely to find what they are looking for, in the size they need, instead of going to hundreds of individual sites. Plus, I think vintage sellers fare better when they collaborate with each other, since the items they sell are unique. Then, they can establish pricing, description and photography standards, help each other identify the date of an item, the trends and other valuable selling information. In addition, they can all work together to bring customers to one site and benefit from each other’s promotion instead of settling for less traffic.

My partners and I had the skills to design and manage the development of a marketplace that could suit our needs and the needs of other vintage sellers out there, so we decided to make it. Plus, we know vintage sellers really want to focus on the vintage, and not the website’s black box, so we thought we’d tackle that for them. For buyers, we wanted to create the visual experience of window shopping and make it easy to find the perfect vintage summer dress, plus have ways to discuss styles, and share items they like with other people.

QoV: Tell us about how the website works

Pamela Castillo (pictured, on her vintage trike): Market Publique is a marketplace, which means each individual seller runs his or her store on the main site. All sellers must first be approved by a Market Publique administrator. We have an approval process to keep the quality of the listings high, and minimize spam, irrelevant items and knockoffs. We review sellers on a few key points. Once approved, sellers can opt to list their items as auctions or fixed price, or as a combination.

The listing fee for each item is US$0.25, regardless of the retail price of the item, the length of the listing, or the pricing options the seller chooses. Included in the listing price there’s also the ability to post up to 15 photos of the item for sale. If the item sells, Market Publique takes a 5% commission. That way, the sellers can have flexibility on how much they want to list, when they want to do it and only pay for what they sell and how much they post, which keeps the maintenance costs low.

As a buyer, you can buy items listed as auctions by bidding on them and winning them, or purchase using the ‘Grab It Now’ option, where available. Winning buyers send their payments directly to the sellers via PayPal, and the sellers ship the item to the buyer once the payment is received. We have a two-way feedback system where both parties can discuss their experience in a fair and open manner.

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