Carhartts and disco shirts – Ballston Spa man has it all on Instagram’s upcycling page

BALLSTON SPA – His business is called The Pits Vintage, but he actually started with an overcrowded basement rather than a hole in the ground.

“I had been collecting vintage clothes for a few years and it got to the point where it started seeping into the basement,” Paul Sausville said.

His dad started bugging him about the piles of old rock band t-shirts, Carhartts, leather jackets, dresses, flannel shirts, Patagonia fleeces and other vintage items, so Sausville transformed what had been an on-and-off shopping hobby with friends. In a company.

The Vintage Pits now “returns” hundreds of garments a year, and Sausville recently used the proceeds to trade in his rusty 2009 Chevy Cobalt for a newer Hyundai Elantra.

“All of a sudden I had a very tangible thing and I was able to get a car,” Sausville said.

He is one of dozens of people who upcycle, upcycle or return vintage clothing.

Fueled by cable shows like Storage Wars and Thrift Hunters, and enabled by websites like PoshMark and The Real, as well as Instagram and Facebook Marketplace, an entire national ecosystem of clothing pinball machines has emerged in recent years.


Certainly, this is not the daily work of Sausville. He is entering his first year as a chemical engineering major at SUNY’s College of Environmental and Forest Sciences in Syracuse. And this summer, he works in a paper mill.
But with three fashion-savvy older sisters, he developed an interest in the vintage clothing business as early as middle school.

It was the overloaded parts that really pushed his entry into the world of flipping.

Once he arrived at Syracuse University, he realized that his dorm just couldn’t hold the volume of clothes he was hoarding.

So he started posting on Instagram, mostly selling to other members of the local college community. The name The Pits Vintage seemingly came out of nowhere; he was sewing a patch on an old hat and one of his sisters who was helping him dropped “the pits”.

But before Instagram, he also did home gigs — where people hire a band to play in the basement. He had set up a table at the entrance to the host’s house. It didn’t hurt that Syracuse had a lively local music scene with plenty of parties and concerts as well as flea markets.

Helpful was also the fact that her older sister works as a model, a job where one of the perks can be an excess of free clothes. “As you can imagine, she has all kinds of clothes and outfits,” Sausville said.

Where does he find equipment to sell?

Estate sales, flea markets, tag sales and, of course, online and at events like concerts.

With an eye and a bit of experience, he was able to choose items he thinks are in demand and can add a modest markup to them for some profit. There is also a geographic factor, which is where the Instagram page helps.

The West Coast, he said, is a particularly hot market for vintage clothing.

From the start of the Instagram page, Sausville’s girlfriend, also a student at ESF SUNY, joined the hunt. He says she likes to compete with him to find the most obscure or eye-catching clothes, such as 80s Nexit jeans, black leather jackets, garish 70s disco shirts, flannel work shirts Discontinued Sears Roebuck and one-piece ski suits.

“What’s old is new,” he said.

But their purchases aren’t just limited to vintage items.

Sausville and his girlfriend recently ventured to the Destiny USA mall near Syracuse where each picked up a new pair of Carhartt overalls — which will no doubt go vintage one day.

Sausville added that his father, a lawyer, has stopped bothering him about his perpetually crowded room and is proud of his son’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“I don’t know if he intended this when he told me to get rid of it,” Sausville said of the clothes.

“It kind of backfired on them, but that’s okay.”

And even though clothes are better organized with plastic bins, he said “there’s still stuff in the basement.”

[email protected] 518 248 6070 @RickKarlinTU

Elizabeth J. Harless