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Bad Apple Vntg.’s has innovated the retail business model by providing purposeful sourcing and extending product longevity. The store sources with zealous intention––they stock locally made artisanal items, items manufactured in the U.S. or Canada, and second-hand items. Most notably, they ensure that 50% of their inventory be comprised of second-hand product.
This innovation serves SDG Goals 8 (Economic Growth) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) through its support of local artisans and secondhand sourcing.
By encouraging the sourcing and purchasing second-hand vintage clothing, Bad Apple Vntg. is taking a stand against rapidly produced and distributed single-use clothing sold by fast fashion companies, whose merchandise is typically bought only once and eventually thrown away. Additionally, when Francesca (also the buyer for Bad Apple Vntg.) purchases for the shop, she often provides more economic development opportunities for local designers and artisans by creating a platform for their items.
As for extending product longevity, Francesca selects only the most durable options, and if need be, makes repairs to clothes. When clothes are made of better materials, they can last longer and subsequently mitigate waste. It is common that she will take time to wash clothes, remove stains, resew buttons, and patch holes found in inventory. She urges her customers to pay attention to their own clothes’ needs because it will help the garments live longer and healthier lives. Francesca hopes that more people join the movement of purchasing clothes that last and can be reused, saying, “Buying second-hand clothes is good because you're giving another chance to a garment that would’ve burned in the vat of trash.” Additionally, her affordable pricing strategy ensures that customers are incentivized to avoid shopping at fast fashion brands.
Francesca started Bad Apple Vntg. when she was just twenty-one. She noticed early on that mainstream retail stores have an incredibly long road ahead before they are conscientious about their products, people, and the planet. Others doubted her because of her young age, but she had a clear dream and determination to make it happen. With hard work and dedication to her mission and innovation, she opened the doors to her store, with very little external financial backing.
Bad Apple Vntg. provides an incredible alternative to fast fashion that is more sustainable, ethical, and according to loyal customers, “far more fashionable” anyways!
Francesca found her inspiration in the ethical issues of the fast fashion industry, as well as her dream to own a shop. In terms of fast fashion, she believes the industry as we know it is detrimental to the wellbeing of future generations and unsustainable for the environment in the long term. She states, “I think fast fashion is a disgusting industry, it is really horrific.” She believes that fast fashion is creating an unrealistic image for younger generations. Following trends is becoming paramount to finding long-lasting fashion. With such a pressure to constantly remain in on the latest trend, there’s been a massive consumer shift towards prioritizing lower quality goods to supply these trends at hyper speed.
For Francesca, clothes were never meant to be disposable. She states, “Fast fashion is teaching this generation to not invest in good quality clothes—just to keep up with trends, which is not how clothes were made to be. They should be made to last.”
Another common issue Francesca notices within major fast fashion brands is unethical appropriation of ideas. She explains that it is not uncommon for a designer’s work to be copied, recreated, and exploited by another company. In fact, often times she states, “A lot of the fast fashion stores have moles who work in fashion houses. So there is infiltration of design ideas and unethical theft of designs from the moles.”
Because she recognizes that designers often have their ideas stolen and appropriated, Francesca emphasizes purposeful sourcing. She strives to have complete transparency in whom she buys from. In fact, every piece of clothing or merchandise in her store was hand selected by Francesca. She goes on to say, “I try to support some independent designers whose ideas have been ripped off by fast fashion.”
In regards to the environment and the role it has played in her business, she has noticed how difficult it can be for bigger design houses and factories to control their waste. One of the examples she gives is transportation waste. Shipping overseas is detrimental to the environment and she hopes to circumvent this issue by sourcing from local artisans in the Reno area when possible. In addition to empowering her local community, she also helps limit the harmful toxins emitted during transportation.
Francesca’s innovation has greatly impacted the positive outcome of her business. Having a mission behind the inventory gives Bad Apple Vntg. a competitive distinction, especially in comparison to the fast fashion brands who are the antithesis of Francesca's efforts. The independent creators in the shop also provide a unique selling proposition to consumers. Because of these two distinct facets of Bad Apple Vntg.’s position in the market, customers trust the store as the place where they can find both style, fair prices, and ethical values all in one shop.
Since the store holds such a beloved place in the hearts of Reno community members, local artisans recognize the power and platform that the store can give them. This can be refreshing for artists and designers who live in a world of fast art and fashion, made with no substance or care. An artistic community needs stores and people like Francesca to be a testament to their value, which can strengthen the presence and importance of art in the artists’ larger community.
One testament of the business benefit of Bad Apple Vntg.’s ethical business model is the long-term customer satisfaction and advocacy for the brand. Raving Yelp reviews, nearly 4,000 Instagram followers (compared to other Reno stores who rarely break 1,000), and positive earned media articles all go to show that what Francesca’s determination and hard work is coming to fruition. Bad Apple Vntg. has been flourishing for almost distinct years in Mid-Town Reno despite gentrification in the area that has increased rent prices, flooded in competition, lead to fast business turn-over rates, and has generated an unfortunate amount of road construction, limiting pedestrian traffic. However, not even the horrific traffic and roadblocks could stop loyal customers from making there way to Bad Apple Vntg. The integrity of Francesca’s business has brought her a fantastic reputation, abundant trust, and ultimately has helped her thrive.
When Francesca about the environmental impact of Bad Apple Vntg., she was the first to admit that it can be extremely challenging to have a net positive effect—especially when some of the components are out of an owner’s control. For example, she does good by carrying reused clothes, but also has to bear the ecological consequences of shipping those items.
“The one way that we are able to be environmentally friendly is that we don't provide bags. We don't even have the option because shoppers should already have their own bags.” Bad Apple Vntg. still manages to pioneer environmental change through transparency about their limitations as well as their no-tolerance policy regarding plastic bag waste. Additionally, the impact of this work is not distinct qualitative; much of the change Francesca is effecting is cultural. Bad Apple Vntg. is teaching customers and other businesses that the environment matters, transparency is key to growth, and companies must put an end to the waste they create with a collective effort.
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Francesca Martinez, Owner/Buyer