Is it just me or does it seem impossible that it’s Christmas tomorrow and nearly the end of 2016? I don’t feel ready for either. Where do the year go??!
As I look back over these 12 months I realize there were no big excitements, but no major dramas or traumas either. Just a lot of good, ordinary days, many spent hunting for and buying vintage and antique items to sell. Sometimes this still surprises me. I’ve always loved old stuff, but never would have imagined that I would be anything more than a collector. Incredibly this February begins the 5th year of my Lion & Lamb Vintage store. What started as an easy way to downsize my collections has morphed into a small business with hundreds of listings.
And it’s been so fun. I’m learning a lot, particularly about the things I buy. I’ve learned about various artists, amber, Italian ceramics and Bavarian china. I’ve learned how to open different types of pocket watches, fix discolored china and remove corrosion from tin (lemon and baking soda, BTW). And I’ve learned to open my eyes to different types of things, like old woodworking tools and intriguing cast iron thingys!
And while the learning is fun, the best part is finding old, amazing things. They make my heart beat faster! (And you may think I’m kidding or using hyperbole when I say that. I’m not!) I felt it when I bought this carved mother-of-pearl and brass horse fob for $5 in my New York hometown and when I bought this wonderful handmade 1920s quilt for $20 at a California yard sale and these three little Chinese dishes (likely Republic era, 1912-1949) for $18 at a Coronado Island thrift store. None of these items has made it into my store yet…still enjoying them. 🙂
Here are a few more of my favorites from this year. The art nouveau brass belt buckle sold recently as did the WWII-era Busch binoculars.
2017 Buying Focus
One of the other things I’ve learned this year is to stay true to myself and the types of things I want to sell. I’ve veered (or considered veering) into different areas based on YouTube videos I’ve watched and realized I need to be passionate about what I’m selling. For me it’s not just about making money. It’s also a labor of love.
What I Won’t Be Buying
Here’s what I’ll leave for other pickers to buy. (You can thank me later!)
- Ties. I started buying vintage men’s ties but later I realized that I’m not interested in men’s ties! I’ve sold four, but once the remaining eight in my shop are gone, I’ll be done with ties.
- CDs or LPs. Some folks make money hand-over-fist selling vintage CDs and LPs, but it’s just not my thing.
- Baseball caps. Meh!
- Big vintage electronics like turntables, etc. No, no, no. A nightmare to test, store and ship!
- Clothing. At least most clothing. The piece is going to have to be vintage and fabulous in every way for me to buy it.
- Video games. Another meh!
- Fabric. I’ve sold a few pieces of fabric and have a few more in my store, but probably won’t buy anymore unless it is over-the-top fabulous…like a ’40s barkcloth or Scottish wool tartan.
- Mass-produced knick-knacks. Not interested!
What I Will Be Buying
Some of these categories of things I’ve buying for years, others will be newer ventures. Undoubtedly some will be tougher to find.
- Nice, older jewelry. This is one of my biggest categories and a favorite to buy. Plus it’s easy to store and ship!!
- Vintage industrial/architectural salvage bits. Things like lovely old corbels, fanciful Eastlake brass door knobs, little gears and dials.
- Vintage medical supplies. Would love to get my hands on more doctor’s bags, tools, etc. Cool stuff and it sells quickly!!
- Paintings and prints. Another favorite category of mine though they are slow sellers. (Our house has turned into a mini art gallery!) I have been getting more selective in my art purchases though. Part of my process is asking myself “Would I want this hanging in my house?”
- Quilts and quilt pieces. I am darn passionate about quilts thanks to my grandmother who made beautiful quilts.
- Vintage books. Always, though I have many unlisted right now!!
- Old handmade things. From lace to pottery to carved wood.
- Black and white photos. I have an affinity for old photos. I typically buy these in lots from eBay sellers, pick out the ones I want to keep for my collection and resell the rest. I come out a little ahead.
- Old toys. This is mostly uncharted territory for me but I do like old stuffed animals, tin toys and games. (I’ll probably steer clear of dolls.) Would need to learn a lot here though. I’ve seen old toys at estate sales and have no idea if the prices on them leave room for any profit!
- Religious artifacts/church bits. I’m drawn to things that are meaningful to one’s spirituality or faith tradition. I have a few old wood church offering plates that I use in my house to corral things.
Looking Forward to 2017
I am excited to see what the new year will bring in all areas of my life (I’ll bet you are too!), and certainly for my business. It’s still small, but each year has brought growth in sales, revenue, customers and wonderful finds! I’m hoping this trend continues.
I’ll close by raising a glass of champagne and leaving you with this vintage toast:
May this sweetest old-time greeting
Heavily laden with good cheer
Bring content and peace and plenty
Enough to last through all the Year.
P.S. How was your year?? Any favorite memories or finds you’d like to share??