This has been a year no one will forget. I won’t. You won’t. It has been a year marked by change, deprivation, disappointment, bravery, depression, fortitude, loss, anger and grief. I think we all are ready to see the back of it. While 2021 won’t immediately be different, I believe that life will slowly start improving for many. I am darn hopeful for all of us.
Just before Christmas, I put my Etsy store on vacation mode. This prevents any sales until I turn it back on (which will be January 1st). I know some people might be looking for after-Christmas deals but I needed a bit of a break. I’m going to use this down time to enjoy the holiday season, rejuvenate and reflect.
Part of that reflection includes the thinking about how I did in my little vintage business. Here are some of the highlights.
Lion & Lamb Vintage (Etsy) Highlights
I sold 372 items in 2020 starting with this vintage letterpress printer’s block on January 1st. This printer’s block was one of 75+ religious-themed blocks that I bought in three lots from an eBay seller. I have been slowly selling them off. So far I’ve sold 14 blocks which has almost covered the purchase cost for all of them. Soon I’ll actual start making a profit!
My highest profit sale was for this Towle sterling silver water jug. I had it attractively priced at $550. (I’ve seen some priced over $1000. Melt value was $440.) This was a rummage sale find from a few years ago. My cost: $5! (I’m guessing they thought it was silverplate.) I was so excited driving home from this sale I could barely concentrate on the road. It was nice to have it find a new home for this quality piece.
My most poignant sale was for this collection of 23 1940s/50s starlet photos from my mother’s childhood/teen scrapbook. I realized the photos meant nothing to me (though I recognized some of them) so I removed the photos from the album and sold them in a lot for $40. I have a set of men’s photos to list.
The sweetest sale was for this Paris painting signed “Hoover.” The great granddaughter contacted me because she recognized this as one of her great grandmother’s. It wasn’t a big profit for me but I was glad to see it return to family.
In the glad-it-finally-sold category was this designer dyed howlite chunky “turquoise” necklace that I called the Flintstone necklace. It weighed two pounds and was not for the faint of heart. I was close to cutting it up and selling the stones as jewelry supply, which honestly would have been more profitable! (Paid $10, sold for a sale price of $54.)
This is the almost-gave-me-a-heart-attack sale. A customer bought three lovely items from me that I shipped all together with signature confirmation. The most valuable item ($475) was a large, vintage garnet bracelet which I had put in a long jeweler’s box inside the package. The buyer contacted me after she got the package and asked when I was going to send the bracelet!!! Turns out she had accidentally thrown out the jeweler’s box with the bracelet inside! Thankfully she was able to find it in the garbage.
This item was one my youngest daughter was glad to see gone! I bought this hand-made brutalist style metal cross in an antique store in Bellingham, WA, while visiting her at college in 2019. She hated the cross with a passion. Everything about it just made her want to throw it out. I thought it was fabulous. It sold this year and here’s what the new owner wrote in her review: “This is just the most beautiful cross! Such talent! Thank you so much!”
Cloak & Dagger Vintage (Chairish) Highlights
Chairish is a curated selling platform for both newer and older items. It’s a bit chi-chi, full of posh expensive designer stuff, but also has great vintage and antique items. There is no listing fee, but the 20% sales commission is painful! I do appreciate their special UPS shipping program called Chairish Drop Off and Go. For a small fee (typically $10-15) you can drop off your items at UPS and they will do the packaging and shipping for you. This has been a godsend for the larger pieces of art.
In 2020 I sold 10 items in my Cloak & Dagger Vintage store and I’m pleased with that as I never have many items listed here. (I think I’m down to 13!) My first sale of the year was this large Angelo Gleria painting on January 12th. I had displayed this painting in our family room…still miss it!
I was delighted to have this lot of eight 1920 Chateau Dresden Schumann bread plates sell. I had bought these 12 plates about four years ago at Goodwill for under $12. I split them into lots of four and listed them in my Etsy store. One lot sold for $60, but the others lingered and lingered and lingered. Decided to list them on Chairish in a lot of eight. They sold for $135, and my take was $93. Glad I didn’t give up on them!
My last sale was a fabulous 1960s Stanton Gray painting on October 18. This was an estate find for $75. (Sold for $450. My take was $345.)
Heading into 2021
What I’m Looking For this Coming Year
- Paintings and prints, leaning towards mid-century and older. This has been a hot category for me this year. I’m guessing with everyone home more there is a desire to improve the decor. And I love buying art. It excites me!
- Vintage lab/apothecary glassware. My four listings flew off the shelf selling within one to six weeks. The largest lot went to a TV production company. I’m definitely keeping my eye out for more.
- Religious items, particularly in the folk art and antique lines. This is a category of interest for me and one that has done well overall, particularly my antique Russian travel icons and Italian Florentine pieces.
- Textiles, particularly hand made or designer. Love fabric and fabric art.
What I’m Jettisoning in 2021
I will be looking at my older, lower-value listed and unlisted stock and donate some that have just lingered too long. Likely some of the cheaper books and fussier china. Some I might try to sell on FB Marketplace or Nextdoor, though neither of these platforms has been too successful for me. But I don’t want to waste any more time, space or energy on items that just aren’t worth it.
What I Hope to Improve
Every year I say I want to improve my photographs for my listings. That hasn’t really happened. My photos are adequate, but not great. I also want to hone my discernment skills so that every item is a good one. I have improved over the years but want to do better.
Let Me Wrap it Up
I’m looking forward to December 31st and seeing the clock turn from 11:59 to 12:00! I will raise a glass of champagne with you as we enter into a new year praying it will be better for all of us.
Happy hunting in these waning days of 2020,