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Team effort: How a group of vintage sellers in Hamilton, Ont. work together to promote local shops
The Hamilton Vintage Community hosts several markets a year, with local seller-members invited as vendors. Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

Team effort: How a group of vintage sellers in Hamilton, Ont. work together to promote local shops


The founder of the Hamilton Vintage Community shares how amplifying products online has led to increased visibility for local resellers

Hamilton is one of Southern Ontario’s best vintage-shopping destinations — with several antique malls in the area, a plethora of vintage stores and online resellers, and the renowned Aberfoyle Antique Market a short drive away, the region is a haven for vintage lovers.

Over the past six years, the heartbeat of the local vintage scene has been the Hamilton Vintage Community (HVC), a social media–based initiative founded by Katherine Burlingham, founder of Kozy Kat Vintage.

Katherine launched the HVC page on Instagram in 2017 in response to another Instagram-based group that claimed it would repost products from local sellers, but didn’t seem to be doing it for everyone.

“I have always been a firm believer in community over competition,” says Katherine. “I created the Hamilton Vintage Community as an inclusive community that would be accessible to all vintage sellers in Hamilton.”

The page is now managed by Katherine and five other volunteer admins who repost products for sale from 296 members in the Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Brant regions. Sellers who are actively posting products can message the team to be added to the member list.

Mixtape Vintage booth with clothing and decor at Hamilton Vintage Community
In addition to hosting markets, the Hamilton Vintage Community is a volunteer-run Instagram page that reposts products and news from its 296 members. Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

The admins are all sellers themselves and each maintain a list of members they’re responsible for. Each member gets one of their products reposted on a biweekly basis, so followers of the account can keep tabs on what sellers in the region are up to.

New for 2023, members can also submit their sales, drops, auctions, giveaways and store news to be featured.

“Ideally, I like to have admins that I know and trust since admins need the password to the account,” says Katherine. “That hasn’t always been possible, but I’ve been very lucky to have an amazing team beside me.”

That team currently consists of Breanna at Blue Buttercup Vintage, Joanna at Saffron Vintage, Kaitlyn at Good as Old, Marina at Rainbows & Retro, and Laura at Foraged Goods.

In 2018, HVC branched out beyond social media to host its own branded vintage markets at event venues in Hamilton, welcoming sellers from across the region to apply for a booth. HVC now hosts several markets a year, with plans to possibly move into a permanent space in 2023.

Below, Katherine shares how the HVC operates a successful local community group.

In 2023, the Hamilton Vintage Community is aiming to secure permanent space for its markets and events. Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

You started HVC on Instagram in 2017, well before the current explosion we’re seeing of vintage on the platform. What value did you see in using Instagram at the time?

Katherine Burlingham: Promoting vintage on Instagram, was, and still is, a great way to introduce people to the world of vintage and the individual sellers.

At first, I was doing all the features on my own. Very quickly, I had to bring people on to help because so many sellers were popping up and wanting to join!

How has the community evolved since you started?

KB: We have grown steadily over the past five years, both in members (sellers) and followers. We recently hit 16,300-plus followers, which is mind-blowing to me.

We have also expanded our coverage area to include Burlington, Oakville and the Niagara region.

Unfortunately, we had to scale back our coverage in Guelph and Waterloo because we had three admins leave in quick succession. It was a very hard decision, but I don’t want to overload the admins with hundreds of members to post on their individual lists and have them burn out.

Vintage belts and accessories at Hamilton Vintage Community market
Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

Each admin of HVC is responsible for a sizable list of members to promote — is there anything admins look for when resharing member posts?

KB: The admins make their choices with no set rules, but most like to choose unique and eye-catching items.

The majority of time, we only post items that are still for sale but if all the current posts are sold, we will sometimes share a sold post to keep the member included.

My favourite thing is when an item sells because of our post. That makes my day.

Sometimes sellers open Instagram accounts and then drop off. How does the team keep tabs on inactive membership?

KB: If a member hasn’t posted in a month, the admin for that member lets me know and I put them on the inactive list. With so many vintage sellers out there, it’s important to keep the community current.

If the seller starts selling regularly again, they just send us a message to let us know, and I add them back to the member list. With over 300 members on the inactive list, it is the members’ responsibility to alert us they are back selling regularly again.

Vintage decor on shelves at Hamilton Vintage Community market
Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

What’s your favourite thing about the community you have developed?

KB: Definitely the events. When I started the community, having events never even crossed my mind because of my social anxiety.

Members started asking if we were ever going to have any events, so in the summer of 2018 I started planning the first one. It was one of the scariest and most exhilarating things I have ever done.

What can people expect from Hamilton Vintage Community in 2023?

KB: I have always wanted a home for our events. Surprisingly, there aren’t very many spaces in Hamilton suitable for us. For 2023, I want to secure that home. Members have been asking for a mailing list, so that will be coming [soon] as well.

What’s special to you about the Hamilton vintage scene on a broader scale?

KB: I find the Hamilton vintage scene a truly supportive one. Everyone wants each other to do well and succeed.

Heather Quigg, owner of Fat Dachshund Vintage, in front of decor at Hamilton Vintage Community market
Heather Quigg, owner of Fat Dachshund Vintage. Photo: Meaghan Eady/courtesy Hamilton Vintage Community

Where are your favourite places to shop for vintage in the Hamilton area?

KB: My personal favourite brick-and-mortar shops are VintageSoulGeek and Ouro Vintage, which is open by appointment. They are amazing at what they do and their shops are perfectly curated.

You’ve been selling vintage for years, including 15 as Kozy Kat Vintage — how have you seen the market evolve?

KB: The market has changed tremendously. I first started out 22 years ago, selling antiques as Of Things Past. I then pivoted into selling vintage as Kozy Kat Vintage 15 years ago, although I do still sell a few antiques here and there.

When I first started my business, antiques were all the rage; now it’s vintage and retro. The amount of sellers has exploded but I do believe there is room for everyone.

Follow the Hamilton Vintage Community on Instagram at @hamiltonvintagecommunity.

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