Grateful for a Good Month, but this Biz is Always a Mixed Bag!

January 2023 turned out to be my best month ever on Etsy since I started 11 years ago–both in terms of number of orders and revenue. (Haven’t figured out the profit yet.) It was exciting hearing so many ka-chings on my phone and seeing what sold–and sales were a good mix of lower- and higher-priced items and those that had lingered for years along with things just added to the store. It was how I always envisioned my store would be!

It could be easy to start thinking this is going to happen every month from now on. But I know it won’t. Online sales of vintage/antique items are subject to a host of external variables–time of year, holidays, competition, trends, economy, rising postal rates. Things I have no control over. (Oddly during the height of the pandemic and lockdown when I thought no one would be buying vintage stuff, sales were brilliant! Everyone was nesting and sprucing up home offices.)

The truth is you can have interesting items, fair prices, good photos, great reviews, etc. and sales are not a given. Most of us try to get a few more eyes on our items using social media outlets and we work on our search terms. We do what we can. Still sales are never a given. (Some YouTube pundits like to espouse how reselling online is such an easy peasy way to make money. But really it’s a lot of work and carries financial risk.)


So on this my 11th-year Etsy anniversary I am taking stock, so to speak. Thinking about what has gone well and what needs improvement. Timely tracking of my expenses always needs improvement as does my inventory storage! And I want to keep working at finding “better” items in three categories: quality, quirky and great brands. (So far that seems to be going fairly well.)

But mostly on this anniversary I’m thinking about what a blast it’s been. Hunting for fabulous vintage and antique items to resell continues to be a huge joy for me. And how many people can say treasure hunting is their job?! Like today–my neighborhood thrift store yielded up this amazing beauty–a 1940s/1950s lavishly beaded purse on black velvet in a generous 12.5″ width. No label but likely made in Japan or India.

This just makes me giddy!

But it has its weird moments too…

Low-ball offers. Part and parcel in this biz. Recently I’ve had a guy on Chairish send me three low offers on a signed mid-century lithograph. I responded twice with the same counter offer. The third time I just declined. I had already given my lowest price.

Sob stories. We all get them. Folks write us with tales of woe and hardship and how they can’t really afford this piece of jewelry/sterling silver/etc. but they love it. They really love it. Sometimes they make some crazy offer or just hope you’ll give it to them for free. I kid you not! But I will admit these stories are entertaining at times. Here’s one I received on Christmas day no less:

My daughter loves this charm bracelet so much. She gets on etsy every single day to see if it has sold . She has been wanting a charm bracelet for a long time now. And i just wish i could afford to buy her this one. Or to buy her charms. Like 5 or 6 charms but im a single mom with no friends. Not one. And family…. Family is out th picture. Its just me and my daughter it’s been this way since she was born. But thank you so much

Crazy pricing. There are sourcing venues where you expect prices to leave some meat on the bone–thrift stores, rummage sales, flea markets, estate sales, etc. But sometimes it appears they didn’t get the memo! I spotted these fun tribal Aztec brass bookends at my neighborhood thrift store. Flipped one over and it was priced at $14.59! Yikes that’s rich. But wait the other one was priced at $14.59 too! Good grief. Over $30 for the pair. Who the heck was in charge of pricing these? [They were gone two days later.]

At a recent estate sale I didn’t buy much (mostly books) because everything was priced up, up, up. It was a three-day sale, but apparently they had a lot left over because a week later the same estate had a one-day sale now offering 20% off. Big deal. I didn’t bother going back.


But back to the lovely side of the biz…

Friends who gift me things. I have dear friends who gift me downsized items that they think I might be able to sell–and what a treat that is. Just the other day my friend JoDee gave me 10 vintage Chinese zodiac characters/beads carved from nut (likely hedaio or tagua) that had once belonged to her father.

Love the rat playing the accordion!

Sweet customer reviews and messages. I get some customer reviews and emails that honestly make me smile and make my day–like this one.

This recent review and purchase by Ann was particularly gratifying as another customer had contacted me twice over a period of several months wanting a deal on this because her money was tied up in a kitchen reno but the rabbit would be soooo perfect for her new French kitchen. Mind you if you have money for a renovation, it seems a bit cheeky (and I’m being polite) to expect a small business owner to give you a huge discount.


All this to say I will keep at this biz a while longer. When the cons outweigh the pros I’ll hang it up!!

Happy hunting,

Karen

5 comments

  1. I can’t imagine pricing bookends separately! Although I find salt and pepper shakers that way at one of my regular thrift stores. Those little nuts are absolutely adorable. Some are much more adorable than others!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article! Glad you’re still in business and had a profitable January. It’s true that there are definite ups and downs. I’ve been selling in the antique store since September and my best month was October. I have no idea why. I figured December would be good and it was, but not as good as I thought. It can be frustrating but still enjoyable. We’re getting ready to start going to auctions again and I’m looking forward to it! Happy hunting and selling! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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