The last day of August…what a surreal year it’s been so far! Surprisingly my little vintage reselling business has been one of the bright spots. During the early days of the pandemic and lockdown, sales spiked and since April have remained stronger than 2019. I’m still scratching my head over this, but not complaining!
Sadly in my neck of the woods there are still fewer in-person sourcing venues open (no flea markets or rummage sales and few estate sales), so I’m continuing to do some online sourcing. Last week I spotted this listing from an eBay seller I’ve bought from before… a tiny mesh purse in great condition. The seller listed this is a “pendant charm keychain,” which did it a disservice, but certainly reduced the number of potential buyers as did the misspelling of “silber” for silver.
It’s really a small antique purse that would have hung from a chatelaine belt hook, along with other useful items like a notepad, scissors, pencil, keys. Chatelaines like this have been around for centuries, but in the 19th century would have denoted a woman’s higher status in the household.
The seller sent me an offer and I made a counter offer and bought it for $32. Not a wildly great price as SOLDS are all over the place and mine has no maker’s mark or hallmarks (though it tests positive for sterling silver). But similar ones are listed on Etsy in the $65-85 range, so I should do okay. I may get a bit of black leather cord and sell it as a statement necklace!
And I finally made a few purchases from my neighborhood thrift store! I usually don’t gravitate towards “pretty, pretty” things, but I made an exception for this small hand-painted ceramic ginger jar. It’s in lovely condition (just a little minor crazing) and would make a neat urn for a favorite pet’s ashes…if that’s not too macabre to suggest!
I didn’t recognize the maker’s mark in the store, but turns out Prempracha is a company out of Thailand founded in 1986. They don’t sell from their website but at trade shows. I’m having a hard time finding sold prices (nothing on Worthpoint), so not sure what I’ll list it for yet. (Probably in the $35 to $40 range.)
I don’t buy many linen items at thrift stores, but when I spotted a huge bolt of fabric underneath the shelves of used pillows and towels, I fairly sprinted to it.
It was a wonderful Waverly Prestwick cotton print fabric in black, blues and greens.
I haven’t unfurled it yet, but I’m guessing there are 12-16 yards in this heavy 16-pound bolt! (Price: $19.89! Little happy dance ensued.) Fabric does not sell quickly for me, but it does sell. And bonus, it’s one of the few things I ship where I don’t have to worry about breakage. Halleluah!
I also got this amazing hand-cut crystal bowl from the Czech Republic (so not super old), complete with gold-foil stickers. It’s only 2.75″ tall but 7.25″ wide with hundreds of tiny, intricate cuts in the “Queen’s Lace” pattern on the underside. I found it on a cart with “new merch” that hadn’t been put on the shelves yet. It was a bit buried and when I unearthed it I thought, “Wow, this is really nice.”
BUT while I’m still finding and selling some good things during this crazy time, I also seem to be getting a higher percentage of difficult customers. For example, I recently went back and forth with a potential buyer on the price on a piece of vintage lingerie. We finally settled on it and she bought the item. Over a week later she contacted me in my personal email (not through the Etsy messaging system where we had been previously communicating): “Why did u charge me sales tax no tax on clothes” She didn’t give her name, order info, nothing. I had to hunt her down by looking through my orders and then responded to her through Etsy messaging:
Hi [name]. Did you send me an email about sales tax? …. So sorry if sales tax was erroneously collected from you. Etsy collects this automatically and I have no control over that. Yours, Karen
She then wrote back saying she “would return the item.” I shrugged my shoulders and responded “Sure thing.” Not much else to say. The strange thing is her state is not listed as one exempt from sales tax on clothes! I am honestly perplexed by this whole interaction and her abrupt/rude tone throughout our communications. I know this is a stressful time in our nation and the world, but it seems to me to be the time to be kinder and more patient with each other. And sales tax is hardly my fault. Oh well.
So I’m plugging away at my store and life. Last night we had a bit of fun. Because our street wasn’t able to have its annual summer block party, one of block party leaders (shout out to Sue) organized a promenade encouraging folks to get out last night and walk around the street catching up with each other (with masks on and social distanced of course!). Some of us wrote messages in front of our homes. One couple had musicians in front of theirs. And it was lovely catching up.
I hope your hunting is successful and that you are having some wonderful moments of connection and fun during this difficult season.
Here’s a trick for estimating yardage that I learned from my years of working in a fabric store: the cardboard bolt is 1/4 yard wide. Each yard wraps around the cardboard approximately 4 times. Count the folds on one side of the bolt. Every 2 folds is approximately 1 yard. That fabric is gorgeous!
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Good info. Many thanks!! -Karen
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