When Life Gives You Time to Think…

Our little 2018 family Christmas was low-key and lovely. Just perfect. Then Boxing Day dawned and I got to work catching up on a few chores–washing dishes, starting laundry and making turkey soup with leftovers. After lunch I was going to putter around in the garden pruning roses and raking leaves. Then my body thought otherwise. I was straightening up after wiping some water off the kitchen floor and some little, teeny, tiny muscle in my lower back seized up. Good grief.

The rest of the day was spent laying down with a hot pad, stinky muscle rub and eventually one dose of my big-guns pain meds. Thankfully two days of (mostly) taking it easy and I’m nearly back to normal. But all that laying around gave me time to look back on the year and my store and what sold and what didn’t. Some of my thinking follows. (The small print–I’ve included what I paid for the item and what it sold for. The sold price does not include the shipping buyers paid or reflect any fees that I paid.)

I Knew These Would Sell

There are some things I knew would sell. Maybe not quickly, but I never doubted their appeal or their quality.

Like this beautiful boxed set of six Japanese shot glasses. I bought these at a small Buddhist Temple rummage sale that featured really nice items, mostly vintage. Prices were not cheap, but I feel I got a good deal on these.

Paid $10, sold $110.

I won this Leonore Doskow sterling silver snuff/pill box in an eBay auction a few months ago. I’m not surprised it sold quickly.

Paid $15, sold $75 with free shipping.

These stunning natural agate bookends were bought at my neighborhood thrift store. Alas I underestimated the shipping cost and hadn’t charged the buyer enough and had to eat the extra cost ($5). Still I did okay.

Paid $13, sold for $80.

I found this overlooked antique brace drill on the second day of an estate sale. I thought it had beautiful patina. Earlier this year a guy sent me a “make it go away” offer of $65 for it, but my price was already on the lower end of what they typically sell for so I declined. It sold a few months later at my full price.

Paid $20, sold $80.

Phew…These Finally Sold!

Some things linger so long in my store that I forget I have them! I bought these Italian designer shoes from a friend of a friend years ago though I rarely buy and sell shoes. Just not my thing. When they sold I said “Hallejuah.”

Paid $5, sold for $50.

I found this 1970s Commodore calculator at a run-down liquidation estate sale. I was #36 in line and had to wait a while to get in the house. Buyers coming out were shaking their heads and one said, “It’s not worth waiting.” But of course I was there and wanted to see for myself. Well, there wasn’t much in the house and most of it was stored in garbage bags or strewn on the floor. I did spot this vintage calculator that surprisingly no one else had grabbed, perhaps because the battery area had some corrosion (which is fixable). I know nothing about calculators but figured it might be worth the gamble. Originally I had it priced over $100 based on comps and current listings, but eventually lowered the price a lot. Still I made a profit.

Paid $2, sold for $40.

I really thought this beautiful 1920s set of 10 classic children’s stories would sell much quicker. It took years and a price reduction.

Paid $10, sold $50.

Surprising Things That Sold

Honestly, some items I acquire I’m not 100% confident will sell, like these vintage “Arizona Highways” magazines (circa 1940s-1980s). I got a large box of them free from a neighbor. They were in good condition except for a noticeable musty smell which can be a deal breaker for a lot of folks. I ended up selling them in four lots, some which sold rather quickly.

Paid $0, sold $125.

I bought a baggie of handmade glass candies this year. Wasn’t too sure about them and then discovered that everyone and their mother had some listed on Etsy. Good grief! Quite a few were priced at $8.00 per piece or in rather small pricy lots. I decided if I wanted to sell mine I needed some “darn attractive pricing” so I listed my lot of 19 at $40 and it worked! Yes, I could have made more money from these, but I was happy with that amount.

Paid $5.45, sold $40.

Items Still Looking for a Buyer

Sometimes I am perplexed that certain items languish. Some of you may say well it’s obvious…it’s either unpopular or priced improperly (too high or too low) or perhaps there’s too much competition or it’s shoddy. But sometimes it’s just because the right person hasn’t come along.

This huge Margot Creations handmade needlepoint piece requires either framing or repurposing into a cushion and the right buyer hasn’t come along who wants to do that. I’ve lowered the price. Fingers crossed.

I found this pricy Beswick “Welsh Lady” porcelain figurine at my neighborhood thrift store. I didn’t buy it the first time I saw it, but later I researched it on Worthpoint and discovered it could sell for a fair sum so I took on chance on it even though it didn’t “speak to me.” (These type of collectibles are not my favorite thing.) Alas, this has been in my store for a while. I’ve lowered the price and am hoping it sells in 2019!

2018 Recap

Overall 2018 has been a good year in my little vintage business. Both my number of orders and revenue are up 22%, though my profit is up less as I have been “spending up” on some items. Looking to improve my numbers in 2019. 🙂

2019 Focus

An antique dealer once said that you should never sell things you like because it will feel like you’re selling your children. It’s good advice, but I don’t follow it. I want to be excited and passionate about the things I find and sell. And if, once in a rare while, I feel a little remorse packaging up an item that sold, so be it! In 2019 I will continue to hunt for things I love: vintage sterling charms, vintage sterling silver smalls (boxes, spoons, cups, etc.), great fabric (which has started to sell for me), vintage medical bits, jewelry, MCM art, artisan pottery, ecclesiastical items, ephemera and quirky things.

What will you be hunting for?

A blessed New Year to you,

Karen

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