More Competition at the Thrift Store?

I walked into my neighborhood thrift store a few days ago just 30 minutes after it had opened and it was crazy town in there. So many resellers buzzing around and checking things on their phones. (Is it my imagination or has there been an uptick in people reselling since the pandemic?) It was a bit disconcerting so I started looking covertly at what folks had in their baskets–pots and pans, clothes, video games and newer items. Phew! Not vintage or antique things or artisan-made pottery, so that was good news. Plus a portion of folks who start reselling don’t continue for the long haul. Most find out that it’s more work than they expected and the profit is not as good as anticipated.

Still on that day I didn’t buy anything. I’ve gotten pickier over the years…which is good!

Here’s how my decision making went down my last four visits…

This lovely beaded clutch by Valerie Stevens caught my eye. A part of me wanted to get this for myself, but I already have several beaded purses that I rarely use. I would have bought it to resell but it was priced at $13.29! Average sold prices for her beaded purses range from $12-24. I might have been able to ask $30, but at best that would have been a $15 profit. I had to pass.

This lovely vintage embroidered and beaded purse from India (at $4.09) was a possibility, but I discovered the velvet had too much wear in places.

This metal ewer made in Israel was rather striking, but damaged and priced at $13.29. Actually because of the damage I wouldn’t have bought it at any price. Even in pristine condition they don’t sell for much. So, a big NO.

There was a collection of 20+ framed puffin prints and photos and I almost went for one of the older prints (priced at $5), but in the end decided against it. I just wasn’t sure it was worth the shipping effort (with the glass) for what I could sell it for.

Now this little stone/fossil bowl (priced at $3.09) caught my attention and I didn’t even have to think about it twice as a bread-and-butter item. Things made of stone and mineral sell for me and I personally find them so appealing. Right after I listed it someone put it in his/her cart but hasn’t finished the sale. I think a lot of folks do that as a way to bookmark items they are interested in.

But this striking agate bookend was missing its mate and priced at a whopping $15.29. Sadly I had to leave this behind. Not sure what they were thinking at that price!

I also liked this hand-painted Art-Nouveau style ceramic bowl (likely a sugar bowl missing its lid) priced at $3.09 but it was unsigned/unbranded. Part of me said, “Girl, put it back on the shelf” but I didn’t because it looked a bit like something that famed potter Clarice Cliff would have done. It does have some age and wear, but is it a 1960s made-in-Japan piece that has lost its foil sticker or is it part of a 1920s set? Hmmmm. Either way, I don’t think it’s worth much and I should have left it behind!

Not sure what I’ll do with this. May turn it into a small planter.

In this era of informal dining and casual homes, crystal serving pieces are not popular. Thankfully there are a few people who still buy crystal as I have sold a number of pieces over the years. These days I look for quality, signed pieces in great condition. Now on this particular day I had gone around my small neighborhood thrift store three times and had not found one item to buy. Not one! But at the very end of my perusal I unearthed this bowl on a new merch cart. I gave it a flick with my fingernail and it gave off a wonderful ringing tone. It took me a minute to find the acid-etched “Waterford” mark. When I did I said “bingo.”

Paid $9. Will list at $65.

It’s a quality, sturdy, beautiful bowl and ready to be filled with almost anything–fruit, matchbooks, jewelry, love letters. At Christmas I could see it piled high with glass ornaments, Christmas cards or walnuts. It could also be used as a pretty serving dish.

And today I found one little thing…a sweet 1960s/70s silverplate bud vase made in Denmark.

I don’t buy much silverplate, but when I do it has to have “a certain something.” This one did. It had quality, simplicity, usability and was from Denmark. Here it is after I cleaned it with silver wipes.

And gosh I was personally tempted by these two graduated handmade pottery casserole dishes in stripes of black, white and speckled brown. I could have gotten the pair for under $12. I could see using them for my apple crisp or my “mile-high mac-n-cheese” but I certainly didn’t need them. And honestly, those thick chunky handles (which I love for practicality) are not on trend and I don’t think they’d do well in my Etsy store. I had to walk away.

So in the end, my last four visits to the thrift store did not yield many items. Still, I always seem to have enough things to list in my stores! And while my sales have slowed down a bit as the pandemic eases here in the U.S. and more folks are getting out and about, I have had some good orders. Honestly I can’t complain. And I have no worries about all the new folks showing up in the thrift stores. I am confident that I will still find good great stuff.

I wish you all happy hunting.

Karen

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