By Cameron Lee
October 21, 2022
The vintage clothing industry is growing tremendously. In fact, the U.S. secondhand clothing market, which was estimated at $35 billion in 2021, is expected to more than double by 2026, according to an independent study by ThredUp. Among the many thrifted or pre-loved items that make up the vintage industry, sports gear and memorabilia often evoke a special kind of nostalgia. For some, our cherished childhood sports items have become treasured artifacts.
In cities across the country, events and communities are popping up to celebrate the well-worn and unique clothing items that just ten years ago, many of us would just throw away or donate. In the Charlotte area, Matt Alexander has been cultivating a marketplace around his passion for vintage sports gear for years. Growing up in China Grove as a die-hard Hornets and NASCAR fan, the upcoming Charlotte Vintage Market “Live at the Hive” event taking place at Spectrum Center on Saturday, November 5, is a dream come true for Alexander. With the Brooklyn Nets in town, the local vintage market will take over the concourse of the arena with over 30 vendors prior to the game, showcasing some of the rarest Hornets and Panthers apparel in the region.
“You can find some Charlotte Hornets gear that afternoon and you can come back to the game wearing it. So it’s just, it’s a very unique experience. And we can’t wait to share with the people of Charlotte.”
Alexander– who originally started the brand and vintage store Good Times in 2017 with his partner Anthony McDonald– began vintage apparel hunting in the ninth grade, mainly for old hats. Convincing his mom to drive him to thrift stores like Value Village and Goodwill, he would often come out with several garbage bags full of clothing. Alexander started buying and selling on the online app OfferUp in 2015 and, in 2017, met McDonald. The two went on a huge haul of vintage gear through the app and started Good Times, eventually opening a brick-and-mortar store in East Charlotte (3010 Monroe Rd.), now relocated to 5109 South Blvd (also in Atlanta).
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In 2019, Alexander decided to start his own outlet, Locker Room CLT, after being inspired by a friend who sold all original game-worn gear and apparel. He had a tough time getting into some local vendor markets, so he created Charlotte Vintage Market. The first iteration of the event took place in June of 2021 at NoDa Brewing Company with a diverse group of 15 to 20 vintage vendors. After following up with another event in September of the same year, Alexander expanded the market to a larger space at Sycamore Brewing in 2022, hosting up to 60 vendors. The events have drawn hundreds, sometimes thousands of shoppers.
Garnering the attention of the Hornets marketing department, Alexander got a call from a team representative over the summer about a possible event collaboration. After multiple meetings and now with close to 20 events under his belt, Alexander and over 30 local and regional vintage dealers will swarm the Hornets home arena for a truly unique shopping experience. The event is not only a full-circle moment for Alexander as a lifelong Hornets fan, but it’s become his passion to champion local micro businesses.
“I’m a huge advocate of spending your money with small businesses…Having a platform to help people out, shopping sustainably, and getting to wear something unique that tells the story, yeah, that’s just what I love to do,” he said.
The first-ever “Live at the Hive” Charlotte Vintage Market will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 5, 2022 prior to the Charlotte Hornets taking on the Brooklyn Nets. Tickets can be purchased through a custom link that will grant you special access to the vendor market.
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