by Chloe Schildhause
Monica Schaefer is always well dressed. Ask her where she found her oversized black jacket
reminiscent of Comme des Garcons ($5), her blue stripped sundress ($3), or Navajo print boots
($7) and the answer is always the same. She bought them off a fence.
Affordable used clothing is easy to come by in this town, and most of the time you don't even
have to enter a store. Fence sales are everywhere and the corner of Valencia at 19th is the
behemoth of fence fashions. In addition to being a fence fashionista, Monica has vended on
occasion at this poppin’ cross section of town and continues to make purchases since she lives
and works nearby. “My co-workers and I all shop there and then when we get back to work we
show off our purchases,” Monica said, her latest being a straw sunhat that was $7.
At around 8am on sunny weekend mornings, vendors claim their land and hang their goods on
the fence. Some are first timers trying to clean out their closets. Others have been doing this for
more than a decade and make purchases for the specific purpose of re-selling. Many take the risk
of showcasing their products on the main Valencia drag, although they have been pestered by the
police in the past for doing so. A select few have licenses allowing them to sell on the fence.
Cesar Arroyo is cleaning out the basement for his wife’s friend by selling her unwanted goods
right outside his sister’s house on 19th St. “I used to sell right on Valencia and [the police] would
make me leave.” He continues to sell every Saturday because it’s a good way to pass the time
and meet nice people.
Situated next to him is Tom. He sells his own crafts made of deer horns, used videos and one
lonely Johnny Depp doll (only 5 bucks!). The only article of clothing for sale is his denim
jacket for $500. He needed a place to hang his jacket and his hope is that the high price tag will
discourage it from actually being purchased.
Closer to Valencia Street are Daniel Diaz and Yvonne Amrhein. They’ve sold their used camera
equipment, clothes and home goods about four times now. But Daniel’s not so into it. “What I
find disgusting is people who do this as a profession.” Daniel said. Yvonne said they sold a mini
sewing machine to the vendor set up next to them. They, in turn, set it out in front of their section
of the fence with a marked-up price tag. She found it amusing.
Right on Valencia, Maria shows up every Saturday and is still working on cleaning out her
basement. She insists that she and the other vendors are respectful. “We recycle, we leave no
mess, nobody smokes, nobody drinks.” She has a selection of fur coats, graphic t-shirts and
stretchy blue leggings for sale. And she loves the clientele: “Everybody who comes by is so nice.
And people come from all over. Japan, Mexico, Italy, Sacramento.”
Chloe Schildhause is a writer and editor at DECADES magazine. Chlo-ish is her blog.