D is for Decorated Tumblers ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

Welcome back to the fourth installment of our Selling Vintage A to Z series. To see previous posts in the series, click on the page at the top (or dropdown on mobile) where all the A to Z posts are handily gathered together! Today’s letter is the letter D and we’re discussing Decorated Tumblers.
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DisforDecoratedTumblersLet’s face it. Vintage kitchenware is hot. It’s a fun category but can also be a fairly broad one so many collectors and resellers niche down. Vintage glassware is one way to go…specifically the decorated tumblers that started coming on the scene in the 1920s and 30s.
These are some of the decorated tumblers I spotted in a recent trip to an antique mall.

DecoratedTumblersSome of the companies that produced these fun and colorful pieces were:
Anchor Hocking, Bartlett Collins, Federal, Hazel Atlas, Jeannette, Libbey, West Virginia and more. In the early days, decorations were done by hand but during the 1930s, various automated methods were developed. The silkscreening method was perfected and is still the main way of decorating tumblers today. The stage was set for the production of the decorated tumbler to take off!

DecoratedTumbler2Green and white leaf tumblers by Federal Glass offered by Nanosdollectibles on Etsy (a great shop to see more examples of decorated glassware)

And the demand was there to meet it. The decorated tumblers were now more affordable because they were mass produced and they were colorful!! Such fun. People were eating them up.

Bartlett-Collins Rhythm Tumblers by AmbassadorGrooviness on Etsy

Kraft Foods had the inspiration in 1933 to offer their cheese spread with a “premium”: reusable 5 oz. glass “party glasses” in a variety of colors and designs. We know them as Swankyswigs. They continued being produced until 1958, first by Hazel Atlas, then by Bartlett-Collins. People loved having them to collect.

SwankySwig1Swankyswigs Kiddie Kup Set by Sidetracked Vintage on Etsy


SwankySwig2

Swankyswigs Tulip Set by RobertaGrove on Etsy

And people still do. Scouring thrift stores, antique shops and the internet, they look for that last one to complete their set.

A while back in one of my thrifting adventures, I found this book, “The Decorated Tumbler“.

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What a bunch of eye candy!! And a very helpful reference book. The author, Hazel Marie Weatherman, has compiled full color reproductions of actual catalog pages from the different makers, so we can see pattern names as well as glassware names assigned by that maker. It includes not just tumblers, but other items produced with these designs, such as pitchers and canisters.
Here is an example from page 52.

DSC_0112My book landed in my reference library but you can check ebay and Amazon for your own copy.

Just a few researching/collecting tips: If you’re interested in this niche for collecting or reselling, I’d suggest doing your research. Develop your eye to spot the more popular themes or subjects…anything atomic is a yes right now. Browse the book I mention above. Browse Etsy  listings. Search “Swankyswigs” and “Swanky swigs”. Use “Decorated glassware”. Search by makers. Go check out an antique mall.
Condition will be fairly important. Super faded pieces should probably be given a pass.

Let me know! Do you collect decorated tumblers? Have you sold any? Are you going to be on the lookout for them now? Leave a comment below.

Vintage Seller Success Story – An Interview with A La Modern

This is the third interview in this series. You can see the other two interviews here.  Today we are exploring the selling adventure of Bryan and Linda from the fabulous mid century shop, A La Modern. You may be surprised to also know that they are the geniuses behind the often referenced Pyrex collecting site, Pyrex Love.

VIntage Seller SuccessStories

One of the things that keeps me going in my vintage and Etsy selling venture is seeking (and receiving!) inspiration from other successful vintage sellers. I devour their shops and stalk their sales. Not to copy. No. That would never work. Vintage selling is often a OOAK business…what I find and what you find will be completely different. Niches may be the same but the whole experience is unique.

I will say that Bryan and Linda’s offerings on their website A La Modern as well their Etsy and Ebay shops are ones that I stalked big time, especially early on in my own vintage selling adventure. I learned a TON, especially about mid century design and pottery.

AlaModernEtsyLet’s ask them a few questions.

How long have you been selling online? How did you get into the biz?

We’ve been selling vintage on different online platforms for about 8 years now. A lot of people start out the same way we did, more as collectors. In our case it was originally with Pyrex, and then California pottery and mid century modern housewares. Eventually, you get to the point where you just have wayyy too much stuff – and then you decide to give selling a shot!

What venues do you sell on? What made you choose them?

In the beginning, we focused on our standalone e-commerce shop that Linda and I designed and coded from scratch. Shortly after, we also decided to try selling on Etsy. Over time it became clear that while it was nice to have our own online shop space, we struggled with drawing in viewers and customers. On selling platforms like Etsy and Ebay, there’s a built in base of potential customers. While you need to deal with competition from many other shops that may be selling the same items, the convenience and amount of people who visit more than makes up for it. So now we’ve scaled back the listings on our main shop, and are using it more as a gateway to Etsy and Ebay for higher ticket items.

We also tried our hand at an antique booth for about a year, but in the end we weren’t able to sell enough to justify the rental fee. That was a fun experience, but definitely an eye-opener in terms of the challenges and overhead that a physical shop has to deal with. It’d make me think twice before trying a physical shop again.

Is this your full-time job? If so, did it start out that way?

Selling vintage is full-time for me, although it didn’t start that way. Linda has always had a full-time day job, so she helps out whenever time allows. My background is as a website programmer, and Linda is a graphic designer. Because of this, we’d already built informational websites for fun that had to do with collectibles, like Pyrex Love and Potteries of California. So when we decided to try and sell vintage items, we already had the skills between us to build our own online store. Since contract work for web design has really dried up over the past 5 years for me, I’ve just focused more time on selling vintage – it’s more enjoyable anyhow, so that’s worked out!

Tell us a little bit about your process. For example, do you shop weekly and list daily? Do you have a backlog of inventory or are you good about keeping up with the finds?

We visit a bunch of different thrift stores at least twice a week to look for inventory, and then estate sales and flea markets on the weekends. I used to go thrifting more often, like nearly every day – but realized that I wasn’t spending enough time on the other parts of the biz. The research, cleaning, preparation, photography, editing, listing, inventory control, packing, shipping – it all takes SO much time. People who haven’t sold vintage before might not realize how much work goes into it – they think it’s a fun job where you just go look for stuff and then sell it for a lot of money.

Yes, there’s a huge backlog of unlisted items! Usually, there are piles of stuff in the “office” on tables and the floor – I try and keep the other rooms clear of to-list stuff but sometimes it creeps out. Actually, inventory storage is almost a bigger problem because things can take awhile to sell. I’ve got an entire row of inventory shelves that take up one wall of the garage, and then boxes of items here and there. If you sell vintage, forget about storing a car in the garage!

Well, that makes me feel better about my backlog, lol. Now, one of my favorite questions. What are your top 2 favorite sales of all time from an online shop?

AlamodernCamark

(photo from Worthpoint)

Definitely one of my favorites was a Camark art pottery vase from the 1920s. I came across it at a Goodwill while thrifting with our friends from Bit of Butter back in 2013. Thought it might do well on Ebay, but was shocked when it went for $1300!

AlamodernLithoWe also really like sales that have some story behind it. We sold a lithograph of horses done by Millard Sheets – you might know him as the designer of all of those murals from the old Home Savings of America banks. By a coincidence, they had just done an exhibition in Claremont of his horse paintings and prints around the time I listed it. The lady who bought it had visited the exhibit and then went online to see if there were any of his prints available – and she found ours! It also turns out she was buying it as a gift for her daughter who was sick and loved horses, so that was a touching story.

Awesome stories. And the vase is gorgeous! It’s amazing what you can find at a thrift store sometimes! So what are your two favorite items listed right now? 

AlamodernEnamel
Ok, that’s tough to pick only two – I should be saying the two most expensive items in the shop, haha! But some of my favorites are the pieces that have a local connection to Southern California. I’ve always liked Annemarie Davidson’s enamels, especially the Grooveline pieces like this blue one we have up right now. She was an enamelist working out of Sierra Madre, CA which is fairly close by – so I end up finding a lot of her pieces because they were often sold through gift shops to locals in the area.

AlamodernPelicanWe also have a number of Howard Pierce items up in the shop, like this brown pelican figurine. Howard Pierce focused on modern porcelain pieces, and produced out of Claremont and then later Joshua Tree. He was well known in the Joshua Tree area, and there are quite a few larger statues that he donated that you can see there and in the surrounding areas. We took a trip to Joshua tree about 10 years ago just to try and find them.

I love Howard Pierce! Where would you say you source most of your items?

At the start, it was almost entirely from thrift stores with the occasional flea market or garage sale thrown in. Later on, we started attending more estates sales and some auction houses. The availability of the really good vintage stuff at thrifts and estates has changed – there’s so much competition (at least in our area) that nowadays it’s common to come home empty handed from a 3 estate, 10 thrift store day.

It can take real dedication to keep finding the good stuff! You’re doing well! What goals do you have for your shop(s) in the future?

Investigating other online places to sell on is always in the back of our minds. Or better yet – just selling more things quicker! I think moving inventory more quickly is a constant concern for vintage sellers, if only because as mentioned the items take up a lot of space. I also want to work the social media angle more – instagram, twitter, facebook, etc. I know a lot of people have had more success selling directly on those channels.

Things are always changing in the online world, that’s for sure. Okay, last question…If you could travel back in time to when you started selling…what advice would you give your newbie self??

Oh yeah, the vintage time traveller question! This gets talked about among friends who sell vintage, but it’s usually you want to go back far enough in time and buy tons of vintage items that nobody thought would be valuable some day.

As for advice, I would tell my newbie self to be more aggresive in buying inventory, but also to be more selective in which items. Focus on spending a little more to make more, on fewer items. This balance is still something we’re working on, but I wish I’d started thinking about it more back then!


Thank you so much Bryan and Linda for sharing your experiences with us! Some good lessons in selling what you love and items that are native to your own area!

You can also keep up with A La Modern’s finds via social media.

A La Modern on Instagram
A La Modern on Facebook
A La Modern on Twitter
A La Modern on Pinterest 


Inspired to start your own vintage selling adventure on Etsy?
Click the link here to get to all our posts about selling on Etsy, how to open shop, how to get your items found and more!!

Some Exciting News!

recycleistaonjayandnay

So this is something new and fun for a change! On this Tuesday, at 5pm PST, I will be the Guest of the Week on Thrifty Business with Jay and Nay!
If you are not aware, Jason Smith (of Thrift Hunters on Spike) has his own fun YouTube show which he co-hosts with Nadene Shearstone, thrifter and eBay seller extraordinaire!

Every week, they discuss thrift store finds and flips, shipping tips, funny stories and MORE. They generally have a guest of the week who approaches this whole ReSelling life from their own unique angle…and this week it’s….yours truly.

So tune in on Tuesday, Nov 22 at 5pm PST / 8pm EST! If you can’t make it that night, never fear! The show will be archived.
You can see the show here:

LISTING CHALLENGE ~ Week Two ~ Turn That Stash into Cash!

listing-challengeweek2

Well, the first week of November’s listing challenge is over! How did we do?

Did you manage to list at least one older ‘stash’ item for every newer item you listed? Did any of them sell?

Here are my stats:
I am by no means a power lister. I usually work on my online selling for a few hours scattered throughout my week between other obligations. Some days I have more time than others. But then there is also a busy 4 year old bopping around, demanding my attention. 🙂
But I’m pretty satisfied with what I got done.

I listed 24 items total. 15 of them were from my stash. 9 were newer items, probably thrifted within the last couple weeks. Woot! AND…I only thrifted ONCE! And only brought home a handful of flatware pieces. Yay me!

Nothing from the ‘stash’ items sold. But 2 of the ‘newer’ items did. And…all that listing kick-started some other sales on both Ebay and Etsy. And that’s the point, right? Sell some stuff and clear it out! Selling items out of your inventory makes room for the stash items to be in holding until they sell.

One thing I learned is that most of my items in my stash are vintage and will most likely go on Etsy. Here’s a sampling of the items I pulled out and listed:

Listing Challenge Stash Items

I just saw how the flatware is in that collage twice! Silly collage program! And obviously too late at night for me to write blog posts!

As you can see, I ended up focusing on smaller stash items. It was easier to pull out boxes of costume jewelry (yes I said ‘boxes’ !!!) and have a bunch of items available all at once that didn’t really need cleaning or sticker removal or whatever.

But I want to change things up this week and really dig deep. The point of this exercise is to make space too, right!?

So here is the CHALLENGE for WEEK TWO:

  • Keep up with your listing momentum. Try to keep up with the 1 to 1 ration. If you can bump it to listing 2 ‘stash’ items for every 1 newer item..go for it! And if you’ve caught up…YOU ROCK!!
  • Limit your thrifting. (*bites knuckle*). I know, I know. But seriously. I realized that is really the ONLY way to make any kind of headway. As I delve into the stash it makes me slightly overwhelmed (I tried not to think about it) and it really does become a slight deterrent to bringing more home. UNLESS….there’s too good of a deal to pass up. (I’m an enabler) OR….Thrifting is the therapy you need to get you motivated to keep listing. It totally works for me. Hence…a listing challenge. LOL.
    For example, this weekend I’ll be out of town and will no doubt hit some out of town thrift stores. But that’s too good of an opportunity to pass up. (Plus think of the mileage!!)
  • Okay now for the main CHALLENGE of the week:
    Pick one item that you have been procrastinating on for months, years, whatever! Whether it’s the research that’s held you back or figuring out how to ship it…there’s some reason you keep skipping over that item. Get over it!! Just get it listed! Bonus if you can list 2 or more of those items.

Okay so there you go! Please continue to comment below! I loved reading the comments! Let us know how you did last week and what you’re planning for this week.

And of course there will be a Facebook thread for you to share photos and comments. I’ll be posting my CHALLENGE item there when I finally get it pulled out. I definitely have one in mind!

 

Hello August. And Other Random Musings from the Month of July.

hello

Aaaannnd….we’re back. Hello August. July…what can I say? You went by just about as fast as I thought you would.
Like I mentioned, July was crazy busy…and then it wasn’t. But I was exhausted!
We had family (my parents and brother with his family) come across the country to visit us. So there was the  prep for that. Nothing like company coming to get your honey-do list DONE! Poor hubby. He was burning the candle at both ends.
We all went together out to the coast and rented a house. It was so fun. And worked out great since my little place could not hold 10 people for that many days in a row.

Fullscreen capture 7312016 81224 PMWith a few other obligations and some other summer fun activities, there went July.

Online Reselling Biz

I had put all my shops on vacation mode with no items visible…just because I didn’t want to deal with it. I normally have a different approach to vacations but this time I just wanted to focus on the fam. It was nice. But selling things is nice too.
Right before we came back I opened everything back up and then as soon as the family left I tried to get active in the shops and renewing or listing new items. It seemed to work since I got some sales right away.
Here was a fun sale:
Fullscreen capture 7312016 83314 PMThese sealed Tiffany & Co playing cards had someone’s monogram on them but we figured there was a buyer out there for them. And we were right!
This was one of 19 sales for the month in my main shop on Etsy, (even with being closed for a week!) making July my 2nd best month so far this year. So surprising!
I was glad to see it though, after a couple slow months. It’s hard to write about selling on Etsy when you’re not seeing the results yourself!

I didn’t thrift as much this month…but you know I managed to squeeze in a few trips. 😉
This was probably my favorite find:
Jonathan Adler Utopia King & Queen vaseThis find is not vintage but has a quirky, Scandinavian modern look that I love. It’s by Jonathan Adler and I believe this design is discontinued. The vase is part of the Utopia line and this is the King & Queen vase, from what I can tell. King on one side, Queen on the other. There is one on Ebay that is running at auction. It ends tomorrow and so I’m waiting to see where it ends up so I can price accordingly.

So that was my month in a nutshell. Looking forward to some new projects and ideas for selling and for the blog. Plus, summer is not over! We have some more summer fun to enjoy before it’s back to school!

How has your summer been?