After more than two months of sheltering in place, I am sooooo ready to get out thrifting and antiquing in person. I want to scour the shelves. Pick up items. Spot diamonds in the rough. Meet up with thrifting friends. Negotiate in person. Be out and about again. But nothing is open. At least not close to me.
So I’ve been watching videos of other thrifters visiting newly reopened stores and I have to admit I’ve been a bit envious!! Jocelyn (Crazy Lamp Lady) spent hours at the Antique Marketplace in Lemoyne, PA, which has 250 dealers! I was there three years ago with my dear friend Lauri when I was visiting her.
It’s a fabulous store and I sorely wanted to teleport myself there to join the fun!
Honestly though as much as I miss in-person sourcing, my online stores are still doing okay without it. I am continuing to list “death pile” items. For example, three years ago I had bought 15 or so vintage vermeil (gold over sterling silver) necklaces from a private sale paying between $5-$10 a piece. I’ve been listing them in dribs and drabs over the years. I listed this one a few weeks ago.
I also listed my grandmother’s 1926 yearbook from State Normal College in Buffalo, NY. Realized that I didn’t need to keep this as it has no meaning for me.
And I continue to find a few undervalued things online to resell including this small (10″ by 8″) harbor painting by listed artist Henry J. Billings (1894-1985). I love the moody colors and style and would be happy to have it hanging around my house for a while.
Sold prices vary wildly on his paintings, but two similar framed paintings are currently for sale in the $400s. I’ve listed mine for $250.
I also bought an antique nun’s crucifix (4.5″) in ebony and brass that I might keep. It’s a little worse for wear, but I think that gives it character and dare I say it, soul! I believe it has a loop at the top (it hasn’t arrived yet) and if it does I’ll definitely wear it.
On the sales front, more expensive items have been selling lately. I’m guessing these sales are the result of recent stimulus checks. Maybe? Regardless, I am feeling very fortunate.
One of my favorite turquoise scores of all time finally sold–a Native American sterling silver and Kingman turquoise belt buckle. I think it’s been in my store for more than four years! And over these years I’ve received offers but they were just too low, particularly as I had this priced fairly to begin with.
I bought this belt buckle not knowing I was buying it! I had picked up a wood puzzle box at a liquidation estate sale. The box top was jammed so it was being sold AS IS and would need to be broken to get to the contents…which judging by the sound included a bunch of coins. (Pennies the estate sale folks thought.) I believed it was worth a gamble and paid $8 for it.
I busted the box top and there was a wad of paper money and a bunch of coins, mostly foreign and some no longer usable. (I sold these in separate lots.)
But on top of the coins there was a belt buckle in all it’s turquoise and silver glory.
Gosh that was exciting. I think I did a little dance. While it took a long, LONG time to sell, for me it was worth it the wait. I am a slow-dime seller. Particularly with higher-end items. I am willing to wait for the right buyer. Which is why I laugh when I get a low-ball offers. They will never, ever entice me.
I also sold the gorgeous Wilhelm Kåge, Gustavsberg, Argenta earthenware vase with inlaid silver leaves. I bought this in February at my neighborhood thrift store just a few weeks before the lockdown.
But not all my sales have been very profitable. Here’s one I’ll share for your edification/amusement. When I’m back in New York state I always go to my cousin-in-law’s store to buy vintage/antique pieces, usually jewelry. And I’ve done well with the items I’ve bought from him over the years. This particular item, an Italian .800 silver lipstick case, was priced at $50 and he said I should be able to double that online. Well, I didn’t bother looking it up in the store and I didn’t negotiate! It turns out similar cases were listed online at $45-$75 and typically sold in the $20-$60 range. Drat!
I ended up selling mine for $67.50 with free shipping. After subtracting the shipping cost, transaction fees and cost of goods, I made about $6! On the plus side, the buyer loves it and gave me a nice review and I didn’t lose money. Still I’m glad this doesn’t happen too often.
I’ll close for now…dreaming of the day when my neighborhood thrift store opens.
We too are waiting (impatiently) for the time when we can safely get back into the business. Seems like all the estate sales have gone to online auctions. We do have a big show still scheduled for late August, and one of our big Highway yards sales (US 40) has been moved from now until mid August. Congrats on your sales you shared, nicely done! Stay safe as you get back into it….don’t jump the gun and take chances.
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Hi Roadtirement! Yes I’ve noticed that about estate sales too. No jumping the gun for me! I plan on keeping as safe as I possibly can. All the best, Karen
things slowly opening up in sydney [of course australia has had a flat curve but still we’re being cautious] and i too have missed being out and about sourcing vintage. i went to my local industrial reseller today and had to line up & have a temp. test before entry. they had SO much stuff donated that hadn’t been sorted yet – i did offer to help – partly being kind and partly predatory interest [ok, much more predatory interest.] my offer was declined – but i’m going back when those boxes are unpacked! edwina
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Hi Edwina. So glad you got to go out sourcing. Did you buy anything?
Australia’s COVID stats are impressive. Here in the U.S. the death toll is still mounting. Sadly the pandemic has been mismanaged from the beginning.
All the best, Karen