Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Estate Sale Organizers... Price Is Everything.

photo courtesy of Yard Sale Bloodbath

I went to an estate sale last weekend - like a lot of you, it is something I do every weekend. I have gotten to know the companies in my area that organize and run estate sales, and I have my favorites, for various reasons. I also have my Do Not Shop list, mostly for one reason - the prices are too high.

The sale I went to was put on by what I think is a fairly new company - I have only gone to one other sale hosted by them, and that was a month or two ago. I walked out empty handed - everything (and I mean everything) was priced way, way out of my price range. I was actually slightly shocked, if you want to know the truth. But, their next sale sounded good, and wasn't far from my house - so I decided to give them another try.

Once again, most things were priced way too high. But, there were a few things that would be reasonable once everything was half off. This was a change from their last sale - so I was happy, but at the same time just as frustrated... there was so much great stuff that I couldn't even come close to considering.

I went back on half off day - I drove up at 9am on the dot, and there was no one outside. I looked around, checked my directions to make sure I had the right start time, looked around some more... I couldn't believe there wasn't a single person at the door. I decided they must have opened the doors a few minutes early, so I grabbed my box and headed inside.

No one was there. It was unreal - half off day is ALWAYS busy at these sales. I had never in all my years gone in on half off day and had not another single person there shopping! After I got over the novelty, I enjoyed myself grabbing the few things I could, and a few minutes later a couple other shoppers arrived. Just a couple, though.

 photo courtesy of Yard Sale Bloodbath

There was another estate sale at half off that day, so I headed over there to check it out. I hadn't been to it earlier in the weekend, so I had no idea what kind of stuff was inside. I could see the sale from halfway down the street, there were a lot of cars and a long line at the front door. My little universe was back to normal!

It turned out to be a very run of the mill sale - if there had been anything interesting there, it must have sold at the beginning. Yet there was a huge crowd - and the other sale had a ton of great stuff and no one there to buy it!

So, Dear Estate Sale Organizers:

Price is everything.
Price is everything.
Price is everything.

You can have the best stuff, the most organized and well run sale, and if your prices are too high you aren't going to sell anything. I think what you need to realize, if you haven't already (which you probably haven't if you are pricing too high) is that a good chunk of your customers are dealers. Another good chunk are folks who are looking for a deal. If you cut those people out of shopping with pricing that is way beyond reach - well, your half off day is going to be empty. And that is a sad, sad thing to behold.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Member Spotlight - The Vintage Nest

Name:  Lynn Wheeler


How long have you been in the business?

I've had my own website for three years, but I've been selling vintage and antiques through another online site and a brick and mortar site for 11 years.

What made you decide to start selling online?

I thought selling through my own website was the best of both worlds. "Decorating" the site like a real brick and mortar store, and reaching a world wide audience, plus having total control of how I wanted things to look and work.

What are your favorite ways to find items for your shop?

I have many... estates sales, yard sales, auctions, other antique shops, and word of mouth. I have a number of people that call me with items they want to sell having heard about what I do through my best advertising... friends.

What types of items can usually be found in your shop?

Whatever you see in the popular decorating magazines such as Romantic Homes, Romantic Country and Country Living is what I look for on my "treasure hunts". What's hot today is not hot tomorrow, and vice versa. So it's important for me to stay up on the trends. I also love to make little girl's dresses from vintage pillowcases, and altered art, repurposing items that are no longer useful or have served their time.

What are your goals and plans for the future?

I love what I do, and hope to continue to do it for a long time. When I am not on the road searching, where else can you go to work in your PJ's?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Member Spotlight - Mitzi's Collectibles

Name:  Mitzi Curi

Shop: Mitzi's Collectibles on Etsy
Blog: Mitzi's Collectibles Blog

I also sell antiques at The Antiques Market of Williamston and The Livingston Antique Outlet, both in central Michigan.

How long have you been in the business?

11 Years

What made you decide to start selling online?

About nine years ago, I decided to sell some of my more unusual antiques and vintage collectibles on eBay, especially those things that didn't have local appeal. I live in central Michigan, and the customers in my antique mall booth are used to a certain "look". I don't try to sell anything-and-everything in the antique mall, but on eBay, anything goes! Then, when I started creating my own jewelry from vintage bits and pieces, I decided to start an Etsy shop, Mitzi's Collectibles.

What are your favorite ways to find items for your shop?

I get most of my vintage goodies from live auctions. I just love the excitement of an auction! I also regularly shop estate sales in our area. There are good deals to be had here in Michigan, let me tell you!

What types of items can usually be found in your shop?

I always have a selection of pendants that I've created using vintage bits such as pressed wood puzzle pieces, furniture hardware, and poker chips that I've covered in vintage wallpaper using decoupage. I also sell unusual vintage finds, such as marquee letters or "Wet Paint" signs from an old hardware store.

What are your goals and plans for the future?

I'm really enjoying my blog, and would like to eventually sell things directly to blog readers. I have truckloads of vintage paper ephemera that I'm scanning into my computer and would like to sell sheets of the pictures, my collages, and other such things.

My other passion right now is making my own little flapper girl figures. I've created these from custom molds cast from chalkware carnival prizes. I pour plaster into my molds and hand paint each figure, including aging them so they look vintage. I've sold two of them on Etsy so far, and have several more I'm working on right now. They are very time consuming but something original that I'm confident isn't being sold by any other artist. 

If you could give one piece of advice to a seller who is just starting out, what would it be?

Do your research! You really need to know what you are buying, and selling. You owe it to your customers to have knowledge about what you are putting out there. Knowledge about value is very important for you as you go about purchasing things to re-sell so you can make better decisions, and spend your money more wisely.