Lately on social media I’ve been reading about vintage sellers who are calling it quits. Some are leaving Etsy or eBay and choosing other platforms and venues, but others are quitting the biz altogether. One woman cited stagnant sales as the main reason, but also felt at her age (mid-60s) she was ready to be done with it. On the other end of the spectrum, a young woman decided to quit because it wasn’t supporting her adequately anymore and she wanted a regular job with a steady income with health benefits. Another was tired of all the inventory stacked up in her home.
I can certainly understand these reasons. When I opened my Etsy store nearly eight years ago, I had a love of vintage stuff and some basic knowledge, but no idea of the challenges that came with selling it. No understanding of “the life.” I was naive. When I listed my fabulous treasures, I was sure they would sell like hotcakes. They didn’t. I underestimated how much time researching, listing and shipping would take. I was sloppy with my bookkeeping because I didn’t like to do it. (Ironically, in another life I was a both a technical and web writer for QuickBooks.) I assumed that every sourcing trip would reap scads of finds. Au contraire! And bless my heart, I don’t know why, but I thought everyone in the business would be fair, honest and polite. (A few estate sale visits later cleared up that misconception!)
As I’ve read the stories of those quitting, I realized chucking it in does hold a certain appeal. But despite all the ups and downs, I still enjoy buying and selling vintage stuff. BUT, I know I need to make some changes, because from time to time I’ve felt on the edge of burn out. I’ve hit pockets where I’ve been totally demotivated and drained before the day even starts. So while I’m not ready to quit the business, I am ready to quit how I’ve been doing it!
What I’m Going to Do to Switch It Up in 2020
Take time off.
Every day I do at least a little bit of store work. Most days it’s hours. Even when I’m on vacation. I’m realizing I NEED to have some time away from it. Totally disconnect from it and focus on other parts of my life. Get some balance. Maybe have more days at the beach!
Reduce the size of my inventory.
Between my three selling platforms (Etsy, Chairish and eBay) I have over 600 unique items listed and hundreds still unlisted. Now I know for some folks that’s nothing, but I am weary of dealing with so much inventory. Particularly with items stored in our house. I am getting seriously annoyed with all the excess stuff around. So, I’m putting more (and more) things on sale, donating others and plan on buying less moving forward. That will be key…buying less!
Buy fewer items that sell for $25 and under (except jewelry and books).
Given the amount of work it takes to research, list and ship items, along with the cost of goods and fees, many low-cost items just aren’t worth the time and effort. Particularly items that are fragile and need extra time and packing materials to ensure they arrive intact. Take for example this little 1920s German porcelain vase. It sold two years ago for $16. Less the COG, shipping and fees, I made $9 profit. Hmmm.
I need to work smarter, not harder!
Focus, focus, focus on buying the “right stuff.”
For me that means vintage/antique items that are in one or more of the following categories: 1) unique, 2) on trend, 3) heirloom quality and/or are 4) proven sellers for me. That includes Southwestern/Native American jewelry and decor, mid-century modern smalls, paintings, religious items, ethnic textiles, quality lace, folk art, vintage charms and quirky pottery.
Here are a few pieces in my Etsy store that I think are the “right stuff”!
So I’m hoping as I implement these I will keep “burn out” at bay and instead rekindle my passion. For those that are quitting, I wish you well in your new ventures and adventures. Someday I will be joining you…but today is not that day.
Would love to hear what’s working or not for you.
As always, happy hunting,