Beijing is filled with surprises; I have had some wild experiences in these first six months, which I doubt I would have had if i stayed in London. The expat community is welcoming, and I am invited to lots of fun events. Rebecca (a mother of 3) invited me to my first clothing auction.There is no gavel in sight, but lots of woman and heaps of clothes.This is one of those things you wish you invented yourself; one of those “A-ha” moments Oprah talks about.
I am a professional thrift store shopper, second hand buyer and eBay-crazy mother. I have found the best deals for toys and clothes in these wonderful places. In this throw-away era, it’s such a joy to find something that you can use for so much longer instead of buying it brand new, and paying next to nothing instead of full price.
I was looking for something like thrift stores here in Beijing. What i found in clothing auctions is so much more fun. Clothes auctions are usually held in somebody’s home; Rebecca’s home was the venue for my first clothes auction she is the original promoter of this wonderful idea.
A few years ago her cousin in New Zealand held a clothes auction. Rebecca was struck by a few things: the awesome quality of clothes that people no longer wanted, how cheap they were, and how much fun the auction was. Rebecca held her first clothes auction in Indonesia when she realized her wardrobe was getting full of clothes she wasn’t wearing and she was craving a social event. Since then she has been spreading the auction joy in three different countries, Indonesia, New Zealand, and China. Her wardrobe is constantly changing, and she creates a ton of new friends along the way.
Rebecca shared a great tip about her evolving fashion; “Sometimes I love an item of clothing that doesn’t appear to be my style, or seems a bit out of my comfort zone. I realized that if I made myself wear it three times, it would either turn from a strange piece of clothing to a wardrobe staple, or I would realize I was still very uncomfortable in it. Then I would return it to the next clothes auction” There is no loss as its usually RMB 10, and the money goes to a good cause.
If you want to run a clothes auction, gather a group of ladies, and find a venue or a home to hold the auction. If you’re unsure how to auction the clothes, add Rebecca on WeChat (becstarnz). She can come over to help or give you more info. Typically the host will pick the charity, the second clothing auction I joined was held in Shunyi at a fabulous venue called “V-etiquette Home DIY”. The “Desperate Housewife’s of Shunyi” clothing auction supported the charity “OCF Dew Drops” www.dewdropslittleflower.org
Typical Flow of an Auction:
- Venue welcomes guests at 7:00pm. Bring good quality ladies clothes and shoes you no longer wear, want, or fit. You can bring as few or as many items as you want. Also bring some money so you can bid on other clothes. You do not have to bring clothes, you can just come to buy, or to socialize. Bring a bottle of wine, some snacks or dessert to share.
- From 7 to 8 pm you will have the opportunity to rummage through and try on any clothes that catch your eye.
- At 8 pm the auction will start. Auctioneers will quickly go through the items of clothes, with the opening bid starting at RMB 10. This means that if you are the only bidder on an item, you’ll pick it up for just RMB 10. If it’s an item that two or more people want, you’ll need to have a bid-off to win it. This is where the fun and laughter comes in! It’s OK to request to try it on if you are unsure about an item.
- You go home to an emptier wardrobe and fill it back up with new clothes.
- All unsold clothes will be donated to Roundabout and all the money raised will be donated to support a charitable cause.
Shirt and scarf both won at a auction for a low RMB 10 each!
Pauline van Hasselt has just started working for Beijing Kids. Born in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, she moved with her husband and her 3 year-old daughter to Beijing in June of this year. Prior she lived in the Netherlands, Belgium, Paraguay, Texas, and London, studying and working as a chef. Pauline enjoys biking around Beijing, finding markets and new restaurants, reading crime and fantasy books in bed, and most importantly, turning her house into a home for her family.
Photos courtesy of Yahaira Vargas