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Thriftcon Portland 2023: Our Experience At The First PNW Thriftcon.

Written by Timothy Leingang


Posted on October 10 2023

Technically this was the second Thriftcon event for us. In 2019 we had a vendor booth at the 'Northwest Thriftcon' at the Court House Square in Tacoma WA.  I don't know all the details, but the group that organized the Tacoma event later changed their name to the 'Forever' event as it seemed the official Thriftcon was gaining steam and becoming a national event.  Long story short, this was the 1st Official Thriftcon in the Pacific Northwest.

Location: Portland EXPO Center

Date: Sunday August 27th, 2023.

6:30 AM. We arrive at the EXPO Center with the cargo trailer filled with racks of garments and goods.  We drove the Econoline up the day before and slept at an RV park just down the street for a very reasonable price of $30.  Entering the grounds was very quick as we were some of the first vendors there.  Inside, there were several booths that had obviously been set up the day before but overall, the room was giant and roomy.  By 7AM we had most of our stuff inside the building and started the set-up process.  Almost immediately people started looking through our racks as we were setting up.  By 7:30AM, and before we were even halfway through our set up, we already had $1000 in sales.  This seemed crazy as the doors didn't open until 9AM.

From this point on the event was somewhat of a blur as the volume of people going through our booth was incredible. From 7AM - 4PM it seemed as if we barely had time to stop and eat. It has been reported that the numbers peaked at about 8000 attendees. At several points, groups of people were in our booth shooting video and vlogging.

People were definitely there to buy as we sold several top tier items. I recommend, having a second person to help run your booth is a necessity at an event of this scale.  Luckily, Kendall was able to make this trip and together we managed to have a very successful event.  Throughout the day I did see a handful of Tri-Cities friends in the Center.  The peak crowd volume seemed to be around mid-day, like 1PM-ish.  I think it was at this point that most shoppers lost phone signal.  I overheard several complain, and even heard one person say that normally at an event of this size the phone companies will set up a temporary tower to boost the signal.  Fortunately, we purchased the wifi from the site and were able to offer chip/tap/swipe services when people were having trouble logging into their payment apps.

Besides a few of the influencers that were at the event, one of the crowd favorites seemed to be the Thriftcon vintage by the pound area.  This was a roped off area where you waited in line and, once inside, could dig through bins of clothes that were priced 'by the pound'.  I think the rate was something like $10 per pound.  At one point I noticed the line to get in to it was wrapped around the room. 

Overall, I am giving Thriftcon Portland a big thumbs up.  It was well organized, and the crowd vibes were great.  We went with the 15x15 space and were very happy with it, but for smaller vendors, I did hear that people did very well with the 10x10 spots too.  




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