Words and photos by Olivia Bauso
Scott Randall is a CPA by day, but his after-hours duties include sifting through secondhand textiles and caring for some 1,800 vintage tees in his basement.
The t-shirts have been collected over five years of thrift-store hunting and are the life behind Scott’s hobby-turned-business, Predisposed Vintage. Scott had been running his online store for about five years and ships hand-picked vintage finds to new homes all over the world. He says, “I have an appreciation for saving things. I don’t want them to go to bad homes, I want them to go to people who value them.”
It all started a few years ago when Scott found himself thrifting for tees to wear to the gym. He would go looking for something thin, comfortable and inexpensive-- something made before sellers switched to 100% cotton. He says, “I would find these fantastic shirts that wouldn’t fit me, so I would buy them up for my friends.” Eventually this turned into a collection of iconic vintage tees taking up space in Scott’s home, so he and his wife decided it was time to build a website and start moving some inventory. Now, Scott’s home office is filled with racks of unique finds all organized by color.
Scott moved back home to Rochester after a 16 year stint in Colorado. It was around that time that he bought a Harley and began traveling around New York to thrift for secondhand finds. On one of these trips he found a specific shirt he had back in high school: a WCMF three-quarter length sleeve “Long Live Rock” jersey that was sold at the House Of Guitars. Scott explains, “They would be in giant piles on the floor - not by size, not by color, just every kid digging through to find theirs back in 1982.” He goes on to say that he thought finding that shirt would be the end of his search, but Predisposed Vintage has only grown since.
Scott says that even on vacations his wife gives him half a day to go thrifting in the area. The two just returned from Las Vegas, where Scott says he scored some finds. He explains, “I might look through 2,000 t-shirts and only pull out one or two. It’s interesting when I bring people along to go thrifting with me. They’ll sift through things for about five minutes and say they didn’t find anything. They don’t understand I’ve gotta spend a couple hours in one place to really find what I’m looking for.” What Scott wants to find is something his customer will sincerely appreciate. It always, always has to be true vintage. Scott says, “Every day I have that fear that a woman has when they go to a wedding- of someone wearing the same dress. I don’t ever want to see a dude wearing the same t-shirt as me. A Coca-cola t-shirt that’s made to look old from Target just isn’t as unique.”
Running the store is about much more than just finding old tees for Scott. It’s about the joy of finding treasures for his customers. He says, “I enjoy the interactions with the people I meet. When people place an order, it’s interesting to see the t-shirt they they’ve found from their youth.” Recently, one of Scott’s customers bought a ringer from a local bar with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the pub's name, "Romig's Tavern" on it. She gifted the shirt to her father for his 70th birthday, knowing he had owned the tavern when he was younger. Scott says, “She told me that when he opened the shirt, he was speechless and started crying. So that’s great to hear that for $21.99 someone was able to be that emotional over a t-shirt.” Scott sends a personal letter with every order asking to hear customer’s reactions to their buys.
Scott believes that the resurgence of vinyl could mean the resurgence of vintage tees. His customers fall in such a niche market that it is difficult to know where his store will take him in the future. One thing is for sure, though: as long as he’s able to find Rochester-related tees, he’ll still be selling. He explains, “Local pride is a huge determination of what people buy. I think people really enjoy the Rochester selection on my site.” Though all of his tees are true vintage, Scott does reprint some 1980’s “I’d rather be in Rochester… It’s got it!” shirts, which are fan favorites.
Check out Predisposed Vintage and other vendors at our August 12th Brainery Bazaar. As always, the first 25 visitors will receive a FREE Rochester Brainery tote stuffed with goodies from our vendors.