Can You Find Vintage to Flip at an Antique Mall?

The short answer is…yes. Is it the easiest place to source vintage items to resell on Ebay or Etsy? No. Not compared to yard sales, estate sales or thrift stores. But I did some antique mall browsing this past weekend and I gleaned some tips. (This post contains affiliate links. See our full disclosure here)

Tips for shopping an antique mall for your vintage resale business.

  • Be patient. Antique malls can sometimes be very large and very packed with vintage, collectibles and antiques. Be prepared to spend a lot of time or to break the search up into several visits. The antique mall I visited this weekend was 70,000 square feet and has about 200 vendors! I actually went to it twice. Once on Friday and again on Sunday.
  • Don’t expect to buy a ton! Obviously, prices are higher at an antique mall and may be close to (or higher) than what you can sell it for on Ebay and Etsy. You may shake your head at the prices…try not to let it bother you.
  • Be thorough! Some booths are packed FULL of stuff. Love those kind of vendors! You may have to move things around or peek down onto bottom shelves.
  • Shop what you know. It can easily get very overwhelming at an antique mall. If you stopped to look up every vintage item there…you won’t make much progress. I decided to shop my niches: flatware, sewing patterns and costume jewelry. Take advantage of your knowledge and experience to see if an item still has some “meat on the bone”.
  • Pay special attention to the booths that DON’T deal in the niches you’re searching. They are more likely to not know exactly the value of those types of items and may price the items to move. That’s how I found my stainless flatware finds (more about that in a minute). Many of the booths either had NO flatware or only focused on sterling and silverplate. I found 2 bundles of stainless flatware. Well, actually 3…but the third was overpriced and I have an even bigger bag of that pattern in my profit pile at home, lol.
  • Be prepared for smaller profit margins. You may get good at ferreting out the profitable items, but you may still pay more than you would at at a thrift or yard sale. (Although…if you’ve seen the prices at my Value Village and Goodwills lately…I don’t know, not far off.)

Items I found in an antique mall to resell on Ebay or Etsy.

Above is a picture of the items I found in the two trips this weekend. We were on family trip (not just our little family, in-laws too) and we got to the destination (about 3 hours away) before everyone else. I headed straight to the antique mall since I knew it would take me longer. My patient family indulged me. Fortunately there is an attached 50s diner and my boys were happy to be rewarded with milkshakes.

The antique mall was a bit overwhelming at first and my finds were slow to start with. I was fine with it…I don’t really go into big places like this with huge expectations…I just enjoy being surrounded by vintage.

I found the little baby spoon in the 1/2 off room. It’s has an atomic looking star on it…so cute! Soon after, I spotted a mannequin in a booth with several pieces of jewelry on it. Like I mentioned already, I noticed that the booth didn’t specialize in jewelry but just had a few pieces. I picked out the figural bell pendant necklace, signed ART (Arthur Pepper’s company). The price was doable so I just went for it..I may only double my money…but again, I’m mentally prepared that my profit margins are lower.

Bell necklace signed ART

Then I found the atomic potato masher. This booth did specialize in vintage kitchen stuff…but they had it reasonably priced at $3. I’ve sold a utensil in that same pattern before.

Atomic Potato Masher on Etsy

In another booth, I found my first piece of Emmons jewelry. It was a sweater guard or clip and I’ve learned that the name is Multiplicity. Emmons Jewelry Inc. was founded in 1948 by Charles H Stuart who went on to start Sarah Coventry a year later. Like Sarah Coventry jewelry, it was only sold at home parties. The white bracelet and earrings are also Emmons and are marked with the early “EmJ” mark…probably from around 1959 or 1960. A great resource for information about Sarah Coventry and Emmons jewelry is the Facebook group: Sarah Coventry & Emmons Jewelry Identification and History

I found the bracelet and earrings on the bottom shelf, kind of shoved back in a booth that didn’t specialize in jewelry. Not in this one, that dazzled me completely. It was just totally fun to look through.

vintage jewelry for days……

Let’s get to the flatware. Hands down, my favorite finds. The orange plastic ones I found first…it was in a booth that had some other mod and mid century items.

WMF Cromargan flatware from the 1970s feature an orange slotted handle.
WMF Cromargan Plastic Orange Handled Flatware on Etsy

It was priced fairly for plastic handled flatware I would guess, but I noticed that they were marked “WMF Cromargan Germany”. Definitely one of my BOLO brands. I am pretty sure I can use the larger audience that selling online provides and get a good price for these.

On Sunday, we went back again with the rest of the family. Hubby spent a little more time digging and he found these items.

Hubby’s finds

He has sold the curly type bookends before and we thought the pewter Sun Valley mug was interesting. He is a carpenter by trade and specializes in trim plus window and door installation. He knows his hardware. He was quite impressed with the door hardware set he found…and the fact that is was on sale. I’m glad he knows what he’s doing. 😉

The only thing I found on that day was the set of stainless flatware in the bag. It was even cheaper than the WMF set. It turned out to be Lauffer. YES! Another one of my favorite brands to buy and resell. The pattern is called Chevalier.

Lauffer Chevalier Teaspoons

At first glance on Ebay I was a bit disappointed. Not many listings and even less solds. I knew that wasn’t the whole story and these are REALLY nice flatware pieces. Solid and heavy. Turns out the salad forks and teaspoons are a bit harder to come by. I listed them all yesterday and sold the 2 teaspoons for TRIPLE what I paid for the whole bag. Yay!!

Benefits to Shopping an Antique Mall.

So yes, there is money to made finding things to flip at an antique mall. If you’re prepared to be patient and thorough. Search where other people don’t and shop what you know. This may not be your jam. And that’s totally okay. Yes, I’d much rather hit a nice estate sale priced by the family that just wants to clean house. But consider these benefits:

  1. At an antique mall….it’s all (okay mostly– there are collectibles allowed usually too) VINTAGE and ANTIQUES. You’re surrounded!! No sifting through decorative collectibles from TJMaxx. Hopefully.
  2. Think of the education! It’s free! One of my favorite parts about antique store shopping is seeing the goods IN PERSON. People can show me their Bakelite finds in a Facebook group or in a blog…but I don’t really understand the smell of it or the clunky sound it makes until I touch it myself.
  3. I buy less. Right? My profit piles are bad enough…a lower priced yard sale may make me go crazy on less than stellar stuff. In antique malls, I’m much more selective.
  4. It’s just plain fun.

So there you have it. What about you? Any great antique malls near you? Any great finds from one? Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!

June Update: Road Trip Picking and What’s Been Selling?

So I didn’t really want to just throw another thrifting haul post out here because the last time I was here…it was a haul post and we talked about the Profit Pile dilemma. But sometimes when I haven’t blogged for a bit, it’s the fastest way to ease back in.

But I’ll change it up a bit and share a bit of what’s been selling as well.

So in May, our little family went on a road trip to visit family and friends. We were gone for about 16 days. We traveled from Washington to Montana, down to Moab, UT and back home again through Idaho and Oregon. Of course we did some thrifting along the way. 😉

I did try to control myself a bit. lol. Some thrift stores I went in and didn’t buy anything. I went to Goodwills, a few smaller thrifts in Montana and Utah, a Savers (first time for me! I usually go to Value Village – I know, I know, same store) and a couple Idaho Youth Ranch thrifts. I also shopped in an antique mall and a private vintage dealer that my MIL is friends with.

It’s a fun side aspect of road trips. Hubby doesn’t mind and my boys are troopers. They get to hit different driving ranges (FORE!!) and I get to hit the thrift stores. It all works out.

I’d like to say I have all of the stuff above listed….but I don’t. Eh…profit piles?? What did I tell you? The awesome Branchell plastic handled flatware is listed on Etsy and so are the Oster beehive blender recipe books. The Taylor & Ng mug I think turned out to be current, not vintage so I popped it on Ebay. The whimsical wooden egg cups are listed but I haven’t gotten to the Irmi nursery switch plate covers or the Bakelite handled cake breakers.

Not shown are the many, many sewing patterns I seemed to have come across in every thrift store I went into. lol. Just what I needed…but some were hard to resist. Like this one:

I have been making a concerted effort to load up my shops with my niches. I have loads and loads of patterns and I seem to come across good ones fairly regularly. But they can’t sell if they’re not listed. So I’m trying something kind of new for me…it’s called “working hard”. ROFL. I crack myself up.

What I’m doing is actually thinking ahead about what I want to list. I normally give in to my short attention span and just grab some random items that either I just bought or that are in plain sight. I love research and so that part can slow me down.

So yesterday I grabbed about 20 patterns that were all the same brand, the same type and generally the same sizes. So I listed all Vogues, all dresses and then grouped them by size and photographed them in that order. I took all my photos, edited the photos all at once and then sat down and pounded out half the patterns last night and the other half this morning before the kids got up.

This has been recommended for YEARS by seasoned resellers but I always found excuses. I do 5 coffee mugs and I’m like….*yawn*. But I have to stop thinking and just start listing! Otherwise I will never make a dent in my pattern/flatware/jewelry backlogs. Today I pulled out some flatware and when my kiddos are done with their school work, I’ll take a bunch of pictures.

And I did sell one of the patterns I listed already! It was this one:

I may have been able to squeeze a few more bucks out of that one but I was still balancing research time vs listing time. And I ended up selling another pattern today for $25 so that was good.

Flatware sales have been doing pretty well also. Once I opened my shops back up after vacation, it seems I sold a ton of flatware! I realized my shops’ inventory was getting low. The slower selling soup spoons and knives are what I mostly have left. So I was happy on our trip to come across a set of Oneida Mansion Hall flatware that I could piece out. I paid up for it…paid about $54 for the set but I’ve sold $135 worth so far.

I also scored some dinner forks and teaspoons by Oneida in the Clarette pattern and I’ve sold about half already.

I also wanted to update you on a couple sales from the anniversary trip thrift haul in my last post. I ended up taking an offer for $40 for the Paragon cup and saucer. It was after our trip and I wanted sales! Had to fill up the coffers!

Also, the Totem serving spoon from that last haul sold pretty quickly for $24.99.

To wrap this up, I just want to mention a couple other things I found on my road trip. These weren’t vintage or even in my niches but they are something I keep an eye out for. Blank media. You might even say, blank obsolete media. There is still a demand for it. These microcassettes (for voice recorders and answering machines) and Sony MiniDiscs sold within 24 hours of listing them, for $28.99 and 49.99. Always worth double checking!

Well, I’d better get back to work! How has your Spring been going for reselling? Staying busy? Lots of yard sales to hit? Feel free to comment below!

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Profit Pile Grow?

This is how. (This post contains affiliate can see our full disclosure here.)

My thrift haul of (mostly vintage) items from thrift stores and an antique store. Flatware, costume jewelry, sewing patterns and some decorative collectibles!
A’thrifting we will go…..

((Stay tuned down below for more info on my finds from this picture…this is also a thrift haul post…I promise))

So my 20th anniversary is this week and we are such procrastinators that we didn’t really plan much for it. We’re not the lay on a sunny beach type people so we didn’t have some tropical getaway plan from way back to mark our 20th. We’ve got some other trips planned this year and so that’s what we’re saving our money for.
We did have in mind to get away this past weekend and we did. Brought the kiddos and visited some friends. And thrifted!

You may be wondering from my title what a profit pile is. You, as an Ebay or Etsy reseller, may know it as a death pile. It’s the backlog of inventory that grows faster than you can list it. A “death pile” will slowly grow and suffocate you…but that’s too stifling. If we look at it in a more positive way….as a “profit pile” – that focuses on the potential. It’s just MONEY sitting around your house. It’s motivating!!

Now we don’t all start out thrifting and reselling with the goal of having a profit pile…but honestly, as we’ve said before, thrifting and shopping is MUCH more fun than listing and shipping. At least for me.

And this weekend, I kind of had an epiphany about WHY the profit piles grow, even if you are consistently listing. Yes, I know I just said I shop too much, lol. But there’s another component. I’ve tried really hard lately when I have a shopping weekend or splurge…(see my latest YouTube videos) to get all of it photographed and listed right away. And I’ve done pretty well with it.

However, and it’s a big however…there are always a few random items that DON’T get listed right away. Maybe I hit a wall in my research. Maybe it needs an extra bit of TLC or cleaning. For example, I have 2 utensils sitting next to my sink that have been there for a month or so. They have sticky residue that didn’t come off with the price tag in the warm water bath. I need to use Goo Gone or Goof Off or something. Just haven’t done it. So there they sit.

So every time I thrift…80% or so gets listed right away and the other 20% (hopefully usually less) gets added to the profit pile. Sigh. So what can be done about it?

Banner image with title for blog article. 5 Tips for conquering your reselling inventory backlog.

But first….the finds…

Well first, let’s talk about what I found…cuz that’s more fun! lol.

Thrifted costume jewelry. Mostly clip earrings. Some by Marjorie Baer, Trifari. Some modernist copper. Enamel on copper cuff links.
The jewelry haul…

Some fun jewelry finds. The bracelet is unsigned. The bunny brooch is Sarah Coventry. I’m loving that pewter looking brooch. It’s made in Sweden (swoon) and the artist I discovered is Borje Tennung. You can see more of his work here on Etsy. Some other faves are the enamel on copper cuff links as well as the modernist copper earrings. They are unsigned too. The plain gold colored ones are St John. Nice! (Not St John’s Bay…the expensive St John). And two favorites are the Marjorie Baer earrings. They are the chunky dangly ones top right and the wire wrap distressed copper ones. I’ve sold her designs before. She is still designing in the San Francisco area and has been for 30 years. Her items are often just signed MB SF.

The MB SF mark on Marjorie Baer's jewelry.

I also found some flatware. Mostly odds and ends of things. Here are a couple stand outs. This serving spoon (actually Hubby grabbed this one) is by Towle.

Supreme collection by Towle stainless flatware. Totem pole design on the handle.

Plus these salad servers.

Carved wood phoenix salad serving utensils. Lebanese in origin.

Thanks to some folks in the Facebook group “Got Vintage Dealer Support Group” (see, like I said in my how to research vintage post, these groups can be invaluable), I learned that these are Lebanese. Made by Said and Alfred Haddad. You can see more on Etsy here.

Okay, here’s another favorite. This skunk family by deLee Art. Gotta love some good California Pottery.

Ceramic skunk family figurines.

Mr and Mrs Skunk and their kids, Stinkie and Phew. Love that their labels are on them still with their names. And check out the fun maker label:

Original sticker for deLee Art. California. Hand decorated.

deLee Art made some other cute stuff. Check out some of it on Etsy.

Can’t beat a good anthropomorphic find! Remember that word? (Selling Vintage A to Z….A is for Anthropomorphic). Along those lines I also found these giraffe salt and pepper shakers.

Tall ceramic giraffe salt and pepper shakers, wearing hats and polka dotted bow ties. Imported by Tilso Japan.

Aren’t they cute? They are imported by Tilso Japan. Not a name I was familiar with but the giraffes were too cute to pass up.

Now in to a completely different direction. This light fits on a Polaroid SX-70 camera. The white one with the rainbow that is always a fan favorite. And amazingly enough, I HAVE one right now in my profit pile. 😉 Gotta love it when that works out.

Q light for a polaroid instant camera.

I have sold this set before for a nice chunk of change so I’ll find out if the market has changed greatly or not. I just realized that I sold it almost exactly 7 years ago to the day…time flies when you’re having fun!

Both pieces need a bit of clean up (hence the profit pile) so hopefully I’ll get these listed before the week is out. The nice thing is that the sale was on Etsy where the listings last forever. So it’ll be a quick “copy” of the listing to get this one going.

Okay one more item before we get back to our main topic. I went a bit out of my comfort zone on this although I have bought cups and saucers before. Just not too many. I have heard that Paragon is a good brand so I took a chance on this one.

Paragon Hortensia cup and saucer in light teal blue.

The pattern is called Hortensia. I can find it more often in white. I did find a sold for a pink one that sold well…but now I can’t find the listing again. I learned from that listing that the shape is called “corset”. See? So much to the teacup trade I have no idea. I don’t even see any other blue ones anywhere online. Could be good, could be not. I’ll let you know.

Okay, I guess we’d better get back to our topic. If there’s anything in the top picture that you’re curious about, feel free to reply below.

Let’s discuss how to handle your reseller profit pile:

  1. Okay, we’ll start off by addressing the elephant in the room. Stop thrifting. Choose a set amount of time and just work out of your already purchased inventory. Don’t add to it. I’ll be honest, this is the hardest option.
  2. Strictly limit your thrifting. Okay, so just because something IS sellable, doesn’t mean you have to be the one to flip it. There will ALWAYS be more things out there. So either become SUPER discerning as you thrift or go out to the thrift stores less often each week/month. List what you thrift immediately, which should be doable because you’re buying less. Then also take 5 or 10 items from your profit pile and list those as well.
  3. Along with number 2, set yourself some challenges to keep it interesting. Don’t go thrifting again until your 5 or 10 items are listed. Make thrifting a reward not a daily habit.
  4. Find an accountability buddy or group. If you’re part of a Facebook reselling group or the Instagram reselling community search out some accountability threads. Or connect with another reseller with similar goals and hold yourself accountable. I’ve done listing challenges on the blog before…would you like me to do another?
  5. Make sure your profit pile is easily accessible. Sometimes stuff gets “binned” and it’s true…out of sight, out of mind. Pull the 5-10 items you need to work on and get them in your workspace. Little chunks at a time will seem not so overwhelming.

Do you have any other ideas that have worked for you? Have you ever done a thrifting fast and been successful at whittling away at your profit pile? Share your ideas and experiences below!

Personally, I know I need to do something. I think I’m going to work on a combination of numbers 2 and 3. Starting today! Because it’s my anniversary and I know I will be thrifting before the day is out!

It’s March 21st Already??

I don’t know why, but this month is flying by. Maybe because I haven’t done my taxes yet and April 15th is LOOMING. It has been pretty busy.

My kids were sick…twice!! I fortunately escaped both times but Hubby succumbed.

It got up to 80 degrees this week! Isn’t that insane for the PNW in March? Oh well. So lots of outside time too.

Then with the remaining time we’ve been focusing on homeschooling. So I’ve been trying to list and work but I had no leftover brain cells for blogging. And I’m sorry…not much exciting today…except another thrift haul.

Click here to see my latest haul video on YouTube. (I have it as a link to click because it seems when I embed the video here…it slows my blog down. Not sure.)

I do have a few blog posts in the works and hopefully will get to them before too long. Thanks for hanging out with me!

But wait!!!! ….I just went to town and hit up our little town’s only vintage slash antique store. I used to have a booth there. Look at my goodies!!!

Those World’s Fair Seattle glasses are for me…I’ve always wanted to put a set together but after being in WA for about 15 years…it hasn’t happened yet so I struck while the iron was hot! The booth owner is a friend and she gave me a bit of a discount too.
Fun patterns, vintage postcards (some more various World’s Fair ones) and a couple jewelry pieces….check out that enamel and silver planet brooch!! Oh my! Oh…and that mug? FINEL baby!! (FINland ENamel…as in Arabia of Finland.

Okay…that’s all…just wanted to share a couple more

Cabin Fever Thrifting Trip – A Story in Moving Pictures

I may just get addicted to this YouTube thing. Did another haul video. 🙂

My family was sick all last week…finally got out of the house on Saturday and had a glorious time. Here’s the stuff I found.

Happy thrifting!