Dalton Bramley who runs Gorilla Garms on Vicar Lane, first opened the second hand shop which specialises in 80s and 90s clothing a week before the first Covid-19 lockdown in March last year.
While the 27-year-old continued to sell his popular vintage wears online, including Ralph Lauren, Levis and Adidas, he is now having to put his prices up by 20% to cover a minimum VAT bill of £17,000 after he exceeded the £85,000 threshold.
The business owner is urging the Government to scrap VAT on second hand clothing as the tax has already been paid by the original garment owner and argues it is ‘punishing’ the customers for choosing to shop sustainably by making the fee be paid twice.
Dalton’s petition, which he set up last week, has had 1,251 signatures as he calls for pre-loved clothing to be exempt from VAT in the same way, children’s clothing, books and newspapers are.
The 27-year-old, who reopened Gorilla Garms on April 12, explained why he thinks it is unfair to have to increase his prices for customers on second hand garments which have already been taxed, while his margins remain the same.
Dalton added: “The only person losing out is the customer.
"The customer is paying 20% more than they should and they are the people choosing to be sustainable and shop second hand, they are actually being punished for being sustainable.
"It's not really encouraging, is it, because anything in my shop which was say £50 it is now £60 and me putting the price up to cover my VAT doesn't make me any more or less money.
"The Government is always preaching ‘oh be sustainable, shop second hand’ and then they are taxing on it when it's already been taxed.
"[Second hand clothing] shouldn't have a second tax on it in its lifetime."
The business owner fears an increase in prices will deter more people from shopping sustainably and opt for cheaper, fast fashion brands instead – despite customers being widely encouraged to be more environmentally conscious.
"It's difficult at the minute for people, they probably haven't got money coming in as much", he continued.
"They are trying to probably recuperate from lockdown but that's why it is more important for shops like mine because they can get all this branded stuff and bargains for literally next to nothing.
"The big thing is sustainable fashion gets a bad name online for being overpriced.
"People claim the clothing is vintage and you obviously do get your rare, one off pieces but people are overcharging online because online you pay fees to the platform you're selling on, you then need to pay for your VAT.
"You could get rid of that whole 20% and it would make a huge difference, it would mean I could lower my prices loads.”
You can view the vintage shop owner’s petition here.