From trash to cash: UB business student makes $15,000 in one year selling vintage clothes on eBay
Evan Tirsun wanted to use the summer between his junior and senior year to gain hands-on business experience.
When a few financial internships fell through at the last minute, he worried he had lost that opportunity – until his girlfriend took him to a thrift shop for the first time.
Tirsun came across a retro Marshall Faulk St. Louis Rams jersey at the Savers near his hometown for $4 and made an impulsive buy. When he got home, he realized he would never wear it and figured he would try to sell it on eBay to get a few bucks back.
He looked up the Faulk jersey and was shocked to find that the same one had recently sold for $50. Later that day, he put the jersey up on a “buy it now or best offer” for $100, thinking there was no way it would sell.
A few hours later, he got an offer for $76.
It didn’t take long for Tirsun to realize he had found a unique way to supplement his education with real-world experience while making some money.
“I started thinking, if I go thrifting, maybe I can find some good stuff to sell, but I didn’t think it would be an actual idea. I was just like ‘let me see if I can do it a couple of times,’” Tirsun said. “So I went and bought a few cool jerseys for between two and five bucks, then put them on eBay and they went very fast and I was shocked... I didn’t know who would buy something like that, a used basketball or football jersey.”
Tirsun, a senior finance major at UB, started his eBay store called The Jersey Movement last May after selling a few jerseys he had found at the thrift. In the past 11 months, he netted roughly $15,000 in sales on over 1,200 transactions while remaining a full-time student.
His average profit margin per item has been 62 percent after shipping and listing fees. He spends about eight hours a week on the business when he’s at school.
His girlfriend, Danielle Levy, lives on Long Island where Tirsun grew up. The two have been together since high school and run the business together, splitting all profits 50-50. The two split most of the duties such as shipping, listing and shopping for products. Levy sells “girly stuff” like makeup and women’s clothes.
The business began specializing in retro jerseys, but soon expanded into other types of vintage streetwear and eventually into “anything [they] could sell.” His store most commonly sells brands such as Nike, Adidas, Stussy, Champion, Supreme, Bape and Jordan.
Although they do sometimes make larger purchases – most notably a pair of Yeezy’s they flipped for a $400 profit on the same day – Tirsun and Levy typically get most of their products at thrift shops.
Tirsun has always had a knack for finding ways to make money within his hobbies.
“I’ve always kind of wanted to make money unconventionally you could say,” Tirsun said.
When he was 10 years old, he began going to card shows with his mom to buy cards he liked. But his focus shifted one day when he came across an autographed rookie card of his favorite basketball player John Wall.
The card cost $100 and his allowance wasn’t going to cut it. Tirsun went home and did extensive research on the cards he did have. At the next show, he walked around making deals on his cards with older men who sold cards for a living.
By the end of the show, he had enough money for the Wall card.
“When [Evan] puts his mind to making money, anything is possible,” said Josh Weil, a childhood friend and former co-worker of Tirsun’s. “He is the only person I know that can have a finance background, a killer instinct and still be a clown and have other people’s interests in minds. Finance and selling are a dog-eat-dog world and Evan does not let it get to him.”
Tirsun quickly gained a reputation in the card industry as a savvy seller with good interpersonal skills, despite his young age. Soon, he caught the attention of one of the vendors, a business owner named Steve Rosenblum. Rosenblum asked Tirsun to come work for his business SMR Collectibles.
Tirsun started working for Rosenblum for four hours after school every day during his freshman year of high school. One of Tirsun’s main roles at the company was a task Rosenblum called “eBay research,” where Tirsun looked up products on eBay and determined what value they could sell for.
By the time he was 13, Tirsun was trusted to make major transactions for the company in fast paced, high-pressure situations.
“[Steve] used to bring me to card shows and he would just hand me a pile of money, basically be like $5,000 he would just hand me. He would say ‘take this money, don’t lose it, put it in your pocket, if you need to buy anything or you need change it’s all in this big wad of cash,’” Tirsun said.
Tirsun hopes to continue to expand his business when he has more time this summer. He currently has around 150 products listed at a time, but wants to have anywhere from 350-500 at a time this summer. Although many successful vintage clothing stores have begun popping up across the country, Tirsun does not see himself going that route.
Instead, his next goal is to land a job where he can help other people make money too.
“[I want to] probably work for a big financial company, a bank, maybe work on Wall Street,” Tirsun said. “But this can always be a side business, it’s something where you can go out for two hours a week, you can put up 15 items that you find and on the 15 items you can make a $200 profit and for not a lot of work, you’re working for yourself too.”
Michael Akelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org