Charlie Ford Vintage Launches E-comm Site

Charlie Ford Vintage | BCBusiness
The Charlie Ford Vintage team (from left): Alyssa Dennis, Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer.

Three B.C. entrepreneurs take a gamble on the e-comm-only business model for selling antiques

From poking around dusty antique shops to scouring vintage stores for unique pieces—when it comes to shopping for pre-loved items, the thrill is often in the hunt. So, can antiques shopping work online? The team behind Charlie Ford Vintage, a new e-commerce store that launches today, thinks they’ve found a thoroughly modern way of selling antiques.

“Essentially, we’ve taken all the guesswork, haggling and hassle out of antique shopping,” says Tori Wesszer, Charlie Ford Vintage’s director of operations. The one-stop web shop for all things antique and vintage was named for Wesszer’s son, Charlie Ford. The ex-sales and marketing director founded the company along with TV’s Love It or List It Vancouver host Jillian Harris and antiques lover Alyssa Dennis, who will be the director of partner relations.

“ is designed so our clients experience the same feelings of inspiration and shopping delight they would in a more traditional retail outlet,” says Wesszer, who felt that e-commerce was the best way to provide access to unique pieces sourced from across North America. “As e-commerce has evolved, there’s been no leading force to help consumers source quality curated items.”

Image: Sharla Pike

A traditional storefront was never considered when Wesszer and Harris spotted a gap in the market last year. The team spent time exploring the customer and vendor experience, optimizing it for efficiency to offer a huge inventory of vintage and antique items that can be delivered quickly to North American customers.

Wesszer saw the advantages of being online. “The e-commerce trend is rapidly outpacing brick-and-mortar retail,” she says. “Operating on an online platform puts us on the cutting edge of consumer outreach compared to a physical store, giving customers the best possible access to our exclusive products and creative content. There has always been high demand for unique vintage items, but consumers don’t always have the time, or know where, to find these treasures themselves.”

The e-commerce model is also an advantage for their hand-picked partner vendors, allowing them an easy way to sell online and market their products on a grander scale. This could present an issue for shipping, so the site displays a flat shipping rate to process orders in one payment. “The most important part of minimizing shipping cost and time was creating a system where items are drop-shipped directly from vendor partners to the customer,” says Wesszer. “Smaller items are easily shipped through traditional shipping companies, but larger, more fragile and expensive items require special care.”

Pricing also presents a challenge, as antiques increase in value over time, and so the site features the best price the vendor can offer and a marketplace comparison to build customer trust.

“We have seen a shift in retail where consumers are increasingly comfortable making online purchases for items that, in the past, they may have been reluctant to purchase sight unseen,” says Wesszer. “The lion’s share of consumers will only buy from an online retailer that they trust, so building customer confidence and loyalty will continue to be paramount to our success.”