What’s Good? clothing shop redefines thrifting in Oakland


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Jessica Erceg is the owner of What’s Good? on South Craig Street.

By Jessica McKenzie, Senior Staff Writer

The secret to successfully starting your own business is simply getting the guts to do so, according to Stanton Heights resident Jessica Erceg. She opened What’s Good?, a South Craig Street clothing storefront, pretty quickly after getting the idea.

Erceg said when she looks at the storefront now, she can hardly believe opening it was her doing.

“The whole thing happened really fast. I just got this wild idea, and now here we are,” Erceg said. “I don’t even know how I did it, I just did before I could talk myself out of it 一 sink or swim.”

Erceg launched the What’s Good? clothing brand online-only last February after moving from New York City back to her native Pittsburgh. What’s Good? is usually open every day at around noon except Tuesday, and the store is a cumulation of clothes that Erceg selects and purchases herself with her interns, Manny Katz and Karyn Bartosic. The clothes span from everything to edgy vinyl and leather outerwear to more traditional graphic tees. The shop even includes a kid’s clothing rack, with pieces such as a bright green dinosaur jacket.

Erceg prefers to style her own clothes with details such as skulls and enjoys all sorts of outerwear. She said she likes to help her customers experiment with their style using the expertise she has gained from styling various fashion shows in New York. She also worked in American Eagle corporate for three and a half years.

“I just get a feeling when I’m picking out clothes for the shop 一 I just know if it’s a yes or a no. It’s almost like I black out and all the sudden, I’ve got this pile of items that are the brand,” Erceg said. “I do like to give people a little push, fashion-wise. Wherever you are on the Richter scale of fashion, I like to give everyone something a little different.”

Erceg said one of the best parts about moving the store from online to in person is that many people discover the store by accident, including her interns.

“When What’s Good? was entirely online, I had to start from scratch, letting people discover the website. So it was actually pretty tough to sort of cultivate a customer base,” Erceg said. “But I like being in person 一 I’ve met the most fascinating people, and you can’t do that online.”

The storefront of What’s Good? on South Craig Street. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer)

Bartosic, a senior politics and philosophy and classics major, started as Erceg’s intern a couple weeks ago after spontaneously wandering into the store and striking up a conversation with Erceg. She said she is glad to gain experience in the fashion industry, even though it’s not necessarily her intended career path.

“I love What’s Good?. I think the resale and thrift fashion is really great in a lot of different ways. You can find really cool stuff,” Bartosic said. “I love this place because it’s women-owned and sustainable, and I love that Jess is using her experience in the industry to bring quality thrifting to this neighborhood.”

Many of Erceg’s customers are students, but the store also draws in some younger teens and older adults. While selecting products for the brand, she said she tries to pick clothing that works for all ages and genders. 

“Over the break, a lot of non-students came in, which surprised me but I’m super thankful,” Erceg said. “All merchandise is organized just by item and not by gender. And I really didn’t set out to be revolutionary in that way, I just feel like if it fits your body, then it’s for you.”

Bartosic said one of her favorite parts about working at What’s Good? is interacting with the different kinds of customers that come into the store. She said she enjoys encouraging people to experiment with their style.

“I’ve always really loved clothing as a way to communicate with the world. It’s speaking a language that everybody has,” Bartosic said. “I enjoy seeing different people come in and seeing what they gravitate towards.”

Bartosic said during her internship, which is unpaid, she hopes to help people expand their style, as it can gain them confidence.

“I think people are sometimes scared of being fashion forward or doing something that’s kind of a little bit outside of their comfort zone,” Bartosic said. “I have a lot of friends who look at things I wear and they’re like, ‘Oh, I could never pull that off.’ But half of pulling something off is just wearing it.”

Katz, a first-year undecided major, discovered What’s Good? two months ago the same way Bartosic did — by exploring Craig Street after visiting a friend who lives nearby. She said she struck up a conversation with Erceg about their mutual love for fashion and after joking about becoming an intern for the shop, Erceg hired her for the position.

“I decided to walk in and me and Jess ended up talking for like five or six hours 一 I ended up closing the shop with her that evening,” Katz said. “I started working for her the next day.”

Katz said since she studied fashion and design in high school, her internship with Erceg is the ideal way to gain real-world industry experience, although it doesn’t offer pay or academic credit.

“When I came to Pitt, I was looking for somewhere I could do more fashion and design, but the one part of it was missing was the business side of things,” Katz said. “I’m doing that with Jess now, and she makes it really human and real.”

Erceg said she tries not to limit the style of her store, taking inspiration from as many people in the industry and on social media as she can.

“I get a bunch of random fashion ideas from my friends and I just run with it, but I hate the idea of being a clone of somebody else,” Erceg said. “So whatever you see, you have to make it your own 一 ask yourself what you like about a certain trend, then ask what you’re going to add to make it your own.”