What I’m Learning About What’s Selling

If you’ve ever wondered does any of this stuff actually sell, it does! Some things surprisingly fast, while other things take years. Literally. But with every sale I see if there is anything to learn! Most is just supposition of course. Guess work. But I look for patterns. Try to deduce trends.

Here goes for some recent spring SOLDS

The vintage Fouquet’s Paris tip tray ($28 plus shipping) sold in a week. I don’t think tip trays are popular, but perhaps vintage Paris memorabilia is. Might be something to keep on my radar. And I guessing the same could be said for vintage memorabilia from other notable large cities.

The antique oak English biscuit barrel sold quickly too (in a month or so) for $130 plus shipping. It’s heading to an antique store in Alabama likely to be marked up and resold. And I am fine with that. They may have the clientele who will pay $300 or more for it. I paid $37 with tax so I’m happy with the profit I am making and the fact that it didn’t linger forever! While it is handsome, I will likely steer clear of items like this in the future unless they are priced super cheap.

The carved bone necklace (above) was a disappointment. It just wouldn’t sell. I finally marked it down to $17 and it sold. Similar ones are listed online at $40 to $100. Kudos if they can get that. I didn’t come close. I can’t remember where I got this or how much I paid, but I’ll likely not buy another carved bone piece unless the carving is exquisite.

The two religious letterpress printer’s blocks (above) were part of three separate lots of religious blocks that I bought from a seller in Iowa. I ended up with over 75 blocks that I’ve been selling off in small lots or singly. I’ve already made back my money and been in the black for some time with these. While the profit is small, folks like them. I am down to just two listings left in my store and since I have more I haven’t listed, I need to get on the ball! Back in December 2021 a buyer left this in a review about her blocks:

2 weeks ago I didn’t even know these existed and now I am obsessed. Haven’t decided how to display them yet but they are so cool and beautiful! Thank you

I had two of my old ’90s Levis jeans stored in our garage. I knew I’d never fit into them again and almost threw them in my donate bag when I thought “Hold the phone. Vintage Levis! I should try to sell these.” I priced them modestly at $50 a pair and they were both sold in five weeks. Yes, I could have listed them for more, but I was more interested in a quick sale. But as many resellers know…vintage Levi denim is one to look for!

The vintage hand-painted silk kimono was one I bought at an estate sale for $5 and tucked away for over five years! Every time I pulled it out I was faced with not knowing how to price it. Some sell for hundreds and hundreds of dollars and others not. It was vintage, but I wasn’t sure how old. In the end I priced it at $125 plus shipping as it had some light fading on one sleeve. It sold within two weeks. Could I have listed it for more? Possibly. But considering I only paid $5 and knowing nothing about this type of garment, I’m happy with the transaction.

The vintage Bonnie Cashin leather coat was one I was going to take to The RealReal to sell for me. I had an appointment at our local store to bring it in. Then I started reading their Yelp reviews. Buyers love The RealReal. Sellers hate it consistently giving their experience a one-star review, in large part because their items got sold so cheaply that by the time the hefty commission was deducted they were left with very little $. (Here’s a quote from one review: “Imagine my shock to find out my $1245 Givenchy bag sold for $249 and I’d get a commission of $174!”) I backed out of my appointment and decided to sell the coat myself. Within hours of listing it, it was in carts though it took a month to sell for $375. (BTW, I found this at Goodwill by being in the right place, at the right time. Sheer luck. I was checking out and saw the coat hanging behind the cashier. I recognized the Cashin style and asked the clerk if the coat was already taken and it wasn’t! I gave it a quick once over and for $50 it was mine. I would be happy to buy and sell Bonnie Cashin again, but I don’t know if lightning is going to strike twice!)

The collection of four vintage rhinestone pins (above) took years to sell. (Can’t remember where I got these. Perhaps free from one of my friends.) They were all in beautiful condition and well made, but unsigned. I had the lot priced modestly at $30 plus shipping and honestly I didn’t think they’d take long to sell…which they did! Of course most collectors are looking for the high-end signed pieces of costume jewelry.

My Takeaways

  • For the most part, I don’t sell vintage clothing, but if spot vintage Levi jeans or jackets for a snip, I’ll pick them up. And bless my heart, if I ever spot another Bonnie Cashin jacket for a good price, I’m in.
  • In the costume jewelry area, I’m going to try to stick to buying vintage, signed designer pieces. The generic pieces take too long to sell for me and aren’t worth the effort for me.
  • Vintage sterling silver charms continue to sell for me and as they are a passion, I’ll continue to list them.
  • Quirky things still sell, like the printer’s blocks and old medical books, and I enjoy selling things that aren’t commonly found in every vintage reseller’s shop.

Speaking of quirky, I just picked up these cast-iron Judd C clamps. Now you might be thinking these aren’t so quirky, but take a look at how the clamps are held together…with wire. That’s what sold me on these. The wire. That told me these are darn old.

And I can’t find one (not one!) image online of Judd clamps constructed like mine with the wire! And I’ve looked for hours using a variety of search terms. How’s them apples?! Here’s how all the other Judd clamps are constructed.

Other Judd clamps

Not sure yet what I’ll list my pair for.


Obviously the real learning from sales comes over a much longer period of analysis rather than just a few weeks. Still it’s fun trying to guess and sometimes it does influence my future buying.

Wishing you happy hunting and selling,

Karen

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