Graduate student shares story of Bad Summer Vintage thrift store
By Emily Condon
November 7, 2022
Image Credit: Emily Condon for The Campus Trainer
Emily Condon for The Campus Trainer
When owner Matt Patterson founded Bad Summer Vintage thrift store in 2018, he didn’t expect to one day have over 3500 followers on Instagram and host [dozens of] pop-up-shops on the University of Maryland’s McKeldin Mall.
But four years later, that’s just what he, and his growing team including his girlfriend Kelly Reyes and her relatives, did.
“I’ve learned so much in the short time we’ve been in business,” said Patterson, a graduate student in government and politics with an undergraduate degree from UMD also in government and politics from May 2022.
Bad Summer Vintage is a primarily online thrift store, but the business does sometimes host in-person pop-up-shops. The business’s goal is to bring “on-brand and vintage clothing at an affordable price” according to Patterson.
In 2018, Patterson had the idea while thrifting to begin selling low-priced thrifted items to his friends and family when he noticed that a lot of the thrift shop inventory was being thrown out.
“It kind of blew up from there. It was so successful the first week that I just continued with it, and later that year I started putting up fliers at UMD [and] connecting with people there,” Patterson, who was living in Gaithersburg, M.d. and attending Montgomery Community College at the time, said.
Patterson explained that the business evolved over the years, and when he transferred to UMD for the Spring 2019 semester, he expanded Bad Summer Vintage’s presence on campus.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the business’ growth because thrift stores were closed. Patterson used this experience to try to find more “contemporary” clothes, rather than the niche inventory that they had before, and to increase the company’s online presence.
Reyes, who graduated UMD with a psychology degree in May 2022, got involved in 2019 by modeling the clothes. And in January of 2021 she found herself stepping into other roles as well.
“During the pandemic, we decided ‘oh, we should help each other a lot more’ because things were a lot more difficult, so that’s when I feel like I got more involved,” Reyes said.
Patterson said that Reyes was a part of Bad Summer Vintage from the beginning, though, as she was a support system to hear about the business from early on.
“She’s a big part of the business,” Patterson said.
Now Reyes focuses on managing Bad Summer Vintage’s social media, which she said she enjoys. She said that this position gave her experience in digital marketing, and she is about to start an internship as a social media manager.
Reyes’ siblings Britney and Michael Reyes and the pair’s friend Julia Craig have also joined the team.
“Naturally as we grow, we need more people to help out as turn out [increases], so I’ve been happy to have them as a regular presence,” Patterson said.
Patterson explained that Bad Summer Vintage aims to keep their inventory fresh by going to a variety of thrift stores.
“We go to some local, big stores; some far away, small stores. We try to keep it diverse,” Patterson said.
Patterson shared that he learned a lot about the used-clothing industry. One example is the “filth” or condition the clothes at thrift stores are in, so he makes sure that Bad Summer Vintage sanitizes products, following each item’s tag instructions.
Bad Summer Vintage occasionally embroiders designs on blank sweaters as well, but Patterson generally tries to stay away from that, as he finds those trends to die out quickly.
“We actually have been thrifting and found up-cycled things that people have created in past years, but unfortunately people after that don’t really want that,” Patterson said.
On Nov. 2, Bad Summer Vintage hosted a pop-up-shop outside McKeldin Library.
Anna Brobbey-Mensah, a senior information science major, attended the event. She has known about Bad Summer Vintage for about a year, follows their Instagram and purchased a Guess crewneck at the shop.
“I was looking forward to this pop-up…I’m a college kid who doesn’t have much money, so I just like thrifting and getting cheap clothes or good stuff,” Brobbey-Mensah said.
For now, Patterson does not see opening an in-person store as an option, but hopes to expand the business online.
“We just really want to expand our customer base… Not just [at] UMD or [in] our hometowns as customer center[s], but expand beyond what is locally around us,” Patterson said.