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Seven years ago, Salvador Salado-Herrera, a high school student at the time, spotted a vintage University of North Carolina hockey jersey at a thrift store. He wasn’t much of a hockey fan, but he bought it because he liked the style and the price—$4—fit his modest budget.
After returning home, Salvador realized his new jersey was too big. On a whim, he offered it for sale on Depop, a peer-to-peer social media platform that is popular among sellers and buyers of vintage clothing.
“It sold immediately, which piqued my interest,” he recalled. “At the time, I was 17. Sixty dollars was a lot of money. It was like, ‘Wow, there’s a market for this old sports stuff.’ I brought it up with my brothers and they were on board.”
With that, Salvador, now 23; Luis, 29; and Daniel, 20; launched their foray into brotherly entrepreneurship—Bro Bros Closet, a purveyor of vintage sports clothing, contemporary streetwear, and other goods.
In the ensuing years (and after pauses to accommodate college and work for Salvador and Luis), the trio have been busy curating their shared passions for fashion and pop culture.
Originally an online venture, the business has expanded into a brick-and-mortar enterprise. Since the spring of 2021, it has operated at the corner of 26th St. and Stevens Avenue—118 E. 26th St., Suite 101—in south Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood. The store is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
It’s not far from the now vanished meatpacking plant where their parents, both immigrants from Mexico, met and started the family.
So how do the brothers divvy up their duties?
Daniel toils full-time as a buyer, scouring thrift stores and estate sales for collectible clothing, cast off pop culture ephemera, CDs, and records. For Salvador and Luis, who both have corporate jobs at the electronics retailer Best Buy, Bro Bros is more of a side hustle.
Salvador handles accounting and finances, while Luis picks up an array of other duties, including practicalities such as dealing with the store lease.
The brothers recently sat down with Sahan Journal to talk about their enterprise, the increasingly competitive thrifting market, and how their parents’ helped fuel their entrepreneurial instincts.
Want to be an entrepreneur? Hardworking parents can be your inspiration.
Luis: “Our parents are hustlers. They always had full-time jobs, but they also had two or three side gigs.”
Salvador: “On weekends, we would ride in the car with them while they did jewelry showings or collected payments. My mom also ran the bodega concession business at a factory where she worked. She would load up her coolers before going to work, so we always saw that hustle and grind.”
In the vintage clothing business, you need to focus on trends because they change quickly.
Luis: “Retail is fickle. Consumer tastes change all the time. Last winter, high-waisted mom jeans were popular. Now women want low rise jeans. Those shifts happen all the time. That’s why we have to be out in the community and see what people are wearing. It’s tricky.
“A while ago, there was a Felix Trinidad boxing T-shirt I really wanted to buy. It was like $60. Then Bad Bunny [the famous Puerto Rican rapper] wore it and put it on his Instagram. All of the sudden, that T-shirt tripled in price. So I’m like, wow, now I really can’t afford it.”
Daniel: “I got a Mosquitohead T-shirt–it had Andy Warhol on it—at a Goodwill. Someone from Japan bought it for $700.”
Salvador: “The Japanese market influences the U.S. market. They love Americana in Japan, especially denim from the 80s and older. But right now, the YTK era stuff—2000 to maybe 2006—is the most popular with our customers. I see a lot of stuff from that era–Ed Hardy, VonDutch.”
You aren’t just selling product; you’re selling your taste.
Salvador: “Our curation helps our customers. We buy things we would wear ourselves, so it’s very nuanced what we carry. Sports is number one, pop culture–TV shows, Looney Tunes, Disney—is right there.”
Luis: “I really like bootleg stuff. Sometimes. I like it more than the actual brand because they do such cool designs.”
Daniel: “Sometimes I like a $20 T-shirt more than a $100 T-shirt.”
The thrifting business has become more competitive.
Daniel: “When I was a freshman in high school, there was probably one store in Minneapolis doing what we do now.”
Luis: “When we started, this was much more of a niche business. Now we compete with other shops but we also compete with Ebay, Depop, and Instagram because anyone can do this. They should try it out. But it does it make a little harder to break away.”
Salvador: “Procurement definitely has become more difficult.”
Luis: “Goodwill is a business. They have economists and financial analysts who understand the dynamics of the economy. They recognize the demand that is out there. So that has increased the prices. A T-shirt we could buy a few years ago for three or four dollars is now maybe $12. It’s a lot more competitive.”