Mother and daughter duo Renne and Dani appear on the computer screen in a sunlit room, each holding a cup of coffee as we sit down to chat. Renee is a physical education teacher for Columbus city schools, and Dani is a student at OSU, majoring in International Studies with a minor in Studio Art and Arabic. I pick up on their strong mother-daughter bond almost instantly as they continuously look towards one another throughout our discussion. Renee tells me her love of thrifting stems from her life as a single mother, where thrifting was necessary rather than a hobby. The family also prefers to be environmentally conscious and therefore likes second-hand purchases to be their default to lessen their environmental impact.
Their business, Lucky Toad Vintage, started right before COVID in February 2020. After shopping trips to thrift stores, estate and garage sales had produced a growing pile in their home; the two realized the potential to start reselling some of their finds. Being more technologically savvy, Dani knew the potential of marketing a business on Instagram and created an account.
The name Lucky Toad Vintage is a nod to Renee’s Grandfather. This man, a pillar of his community, built his own home filled with family heirlooms and collectibles until, tragically, a serial arsonist burned the estate down, and the family lost their possessions and material history. Therefore, Renee has spent most of her life searching for objects that remind her of this treasured home and the beautiful possessions the family lost that day. I can see the pain in her eyes as she recounts this experience. When she finds second-hand goods that remind her of her grandparent’s era, she feels a connection. Her grandfather’s childhood nickname was “Toad,” and Renee and her daughter decided to name their business after him as a nod to his hard work, dedication, and connection to their family history.
Their business not only connects them to the past but to their community. Renee always prefers to live where she works, so the family decided to buy a Clintonville home where she currently teaches. Renee loves making genuine connections with the students and parents at her school. As a gym teacher, Renee doesn’t just have a student for a year; she sees them throughout their entire elementary school career and builds close connections with their parents. Dani teases her mother by saying they can barely make it down the street on a walk without Renee stopping to talk to a former student, a current student, or a student’s parent. This is what makes their business so successful- powerful connections to other people. They have built trust within their community, so when someone buys a Lucky Toad Vintage piece, they know they are getting quality at a fair price.
COVID permitting, they are hoping to make some in-person sales this summer at popups or community markets around Columbus. For now, though, their system is efficient and easy. You message Dani on Instagram when you are interested in something they are selling. You pay through Venmo and then pick up your product straight from their screened front porch.
The duo isn’t trying to turn a huge profit or quit their day jobs. They are happy where they are. They are simply looking for a way to fund their thrifting habit, have some fun, and make some valuable connections along the way. Dani, an artist herself, makes posts with stunning photos of their vintage hauls, followed by pictures of individual items for sale and prices in the caption.
At the end of our conversation, Renee asked me what kind of collectibles I had, and I told them I liked to collect nesting dolls after my father brought me one home from Russia as a child. When the pair found a nesting doll, they bought it and saved it for me, gifting it to me for free. I now display it proudly in my living room.
Give them a follow on Instagram and if you see a unique piece you like, grab it while they still have it and know you are supporting a local business and a fantastic mother-daughter team.