Oh February! ~ Catching Up ~ And My Love/Hate Relationship with Vintage Fabric


Oh February! – Catching Up
What a doozy this year. The PNW has seen more snow this year than usual. Early in February, we got dumped on with 15 inches all at once!! (Picture on left). We usually get maybe 1 snow event per winter, usually just a couple inches. We’ve had several…including earlier this week. My FIL has lived on this property for over 40 years and cannot recall getting this much snow all at once…ever.
The picture on the right is exactly 7 days later. It was in the 50s and most of the snow had gone.
This up and down with the weather totally matched how I felt. I had some doctor visits and so was a little preoccupied with that. I also had some family/home/community responsibilities that took the rest of my attention.
My online vintage selling business definitely took a back seat. I still thrifted…(of course I did) and I still listed some things and I still sold some things. So the business went on…but it was not my focus.
And honestly, that’s kind of how I see the next few years.
Since I wasn’t so focused on vintage or on the whole business…I hesitated to come here and blog…I felt like I didn’t really have anything helpful to say.
I’m afraid I’m at one of *those* points again…wondering whether the blog should remain part of my TO-DO list..or not. I know, I know, you’re tired of reading about my blogging crises..so I won’t natter on. I’m planning on continuing at this point- I just have to see where it fits in with my new online selling plan. More about that another day.

DSC_0013My Love/Hate Relationship with Vintage Fabric

So one of the things I can’t resist looking at in the thrift stores is the fabric/material aisle. It’s kind of like sewing patterns. I can’t sew a stitch to save my life but I’m fascinated by all of it. Of course, part of it is the thrill of the hunt..I do know what people like and what sells, so I’m always hoping to find some fabulous piece of atomic barkcloth or some Vera Neumann signed fabric.
But when it comes to the actual listing of the fabric, I slow down. I have no idea why. Some kind of mental block. Maybe it’s my lack of good set up for photos or something…kind of like my selling clothing aversion.
Recently I was at Value Village when they were putting out bags of fabric. Usually these bags are just scraps..but I could tell that these had larger pieces. I looked at one bag and discovered the theme of the whole bag was cowboy/western fabric. Definitely sell-able. I ended up buying 3 bags…mostly western fabric and some fly-fishing/outdoors type fabric.
DSC_0027This was one of my favorites..although it was more Fox Hunt than Western. It has a great color. Most of the pieces I got were from the early to mid 1990s and at least 2 yards. The smaller pieces I lotted up into one listing. I made myself measure the pile right away. Half the battle. And then so far I’ve listed the Western fabric.  I decided to list on Ebay although these are perfectly eligible for Etsy.

And I’ve sold 2 listings already! The piece up at the top was a totally random piece mixed in with the Western pieces called “Bow Wow Chow Mein”. I had exactly one yard and it sold overnight. I also sold this one:

DSC_0036Most of the brands in the packs were VIP by Cranston and Alexander Henry. Now, I don’t want you to run out and buy any and every piece by those makers that you see. You will find a lot of it. It’s not all created equal. Theme will also be important. I can get fairly good money even on just 2 yards because the cowboy/western theme is a popular one. Other themes might only be worth it if you can get it cheap and there is a lot of yardage.
So see the Love / Hate part? Lol. Love looking for it. Love finding it. Hate listing it. Love selling it. Love making money on it.
Actually “Hate” is kind of a strong word. Listing and selling is work. Plain and simple. Once I got going..it wasn’t any harder than any other item I sell and the photos weren’t that difficult. So…yes..it’s time to break out those other 2 bins of fabric I’ve been hoarding and just get to work!


LISTING CHALLENGE ~ Week Three ~ Turn that Stash Into Cash!


Well, well. That was quite a week! I accomplished close to NOTHING with my goals. Oh well.

Shake it off.

I did get one listing done that I had been putting off because it was clothing and I didn’t want to figure out how and where to take the picture. I just put on my big girl panties and got ‘er done!

dsc_0001I’m not thrilled with photos, but they are done and this his and hers set is listed!

I can’t even remember what else I listed last week but I don’t think it was much. I never got around to the item I was thinking of last week that I’ve been putting off…besides the clothing item up above. No motivation and my health wasn’t cooperating. Plus it was a short week as we went out of town on Friday.

Hope you all made out better than I did!

So moving forward! Let’s talk about goals this week! I’m already a bit behind as you can see by the fact this is coming out on Tuesday!

Your CHALLENGE for this week:

LOT THINGS UP! Okay, so as you’re going through your older stash items you may come across things that were not so exciting to list on their own and so they got set aside. Or they were not really as valuable as you thought they’d be. Or maybe your minimum list price has gone up since you started thrifting and reselling. Or some items have damage that you didn’t see originally.
If you can find logical ways to lot them up, do it!
For example, damaged silverplate flatware can be gathered up in a “craft” lot. Ditto for broken jewelry.

I’ll give you another example. Years back I was into vintage buttons. I bought big lots and would sift through them. Very therapeutic. I sold smaller groups of them or sometimes single ones! It was fun. I still sell buttons here and there but not like I used to. Lost interest in the niche I guess. I may just go ahead and make lots again. Just to clear some space.
Here’s hoping I don’t get all into the niche again when I’m looking through those buttons!! lol

Here’s another example: Junk drawer lots! Yes, it’s a thing! All those little odds and ends and bits and bobs that you haven’t brought yourself to throw out….lot ’em up! Sell ’em!

So that’s your CHALLENGE for the week. Of course…keep up that ratio of 1 old stash item for every 1 new item…or 2 to 1 would be even better.

Pull out another item you’ve been PROCRASTINATING on!

And keep a handle on that thrifting! You’ll see progress…I promise!

Share your progress in the comments below and / or on Facebook!

LISTING CHALLENGE ~ Turn That Stash Into Cash!

Okay, so last post I mentioned the fact that I *may* have a problem with a bit of a backlog of inventory. The thrifting is just too much fun and I can acquire much faster than I can list and sell.

And I know I am not alone. Several of you mentioned in the comments that you’d be up for a listing challenge to help attack those backlogs!

In that last post I showed the items I dug out of a bin. So far I have sold the tartlet tins! That’s $24 (before fees) that is now in my bank account, not in a bin in my storage!

How much more CASH can I make from my STASH?? How much cash do YOU have hidden in those Rubbermaid bins and boxes? That’s the challenge for November! Let’s turn that stash into cash!

Join the Stash into Cash Listing Challenge! Got a backlog of inventory? Do you thrift faster than you can list and sell? We understand!

It can’t sell if it’s not listed…so that’s the first step.

For this first week of the challenge, I want you all to keep listing. By all means keep up with newer items that have come in. But for every ‘new’ item you list I want you to take one ‘old’ item from your stash and list it as well. I am going to do the same thing.

This is November 1st and already Tuesday so we will run this assignment until Sunday. Next Monday we will have another specific assignment for that week…and so on. By the end of the month we will see how much cash we’ve generated from our stash!!

Comment below if you are up for the challenge! Feel free to comment all week about your progress. I will also be running this challenge on my Facebook page so come join me over there! Over on Facebook you can share pictures of items you’ve uncovered and feel free to share the listing links there with us too! If you’re not a Facebook person, no worries…just share here!

Selling On Etsy ~ Getting Your Items Found ~ My Number ONE Top Tip

Make Money Etsy Top Tip

(This post has affiliate links.)

Welcome to Part 3 of my Selling On Etsy series! You may be here because you’re already a reader of my blog or maybe this is your first time here. If the former is true, you may want to skip the next few paragraphs (yawn, old news…). If the latter is true, let me introduce myself.

My name is Shannon and I have been an Etsy seller for almost 10 years. Currently we have 5 shops on Etsy, but one of those is only open off and on…we just don’t have the time to dedicate to it. (more about that below)
We sell mostly vintage on Etsy and some supplies. We don’t currently sell handmade…but a lot of the principles I cover in this series I *think* should be good for both.
My Hubby runs 2 of the shops for the most part and I work on the other two. Plus we both sell on Ebay.
Let me just give you an idea about our sales so you can judge whether my advice will work for you or not. You may be looking for bigger numbers but all I can do is just share our experience. Your mileage may vary.

  • (as of 03/2016) My main shop The Recycleista’s Retro Shop has been open from 2008 until now. I’ve had approx 1400 orders containing 1571 items. The revenue on that was $26,009. That number does not include tax or shipping costs.
  • (as of 03/2016) Hubby’s main shop, Metal and Tweed, has only been open since 2013 and has had 431 orders containing 448 items. His revenue so far is $11,554.  (08/2016 update: M&T is on a short break while we decide what to do with our shops)

A couple notes on that. First of all, Hubby is kicking my butt!! I do believe his price points are a bit higher. So that helps. Plus, the early days of my shop I didn’t work it as hard as I started to in about 2012-2013.

So that brings me to today’s topic. If you’re here and new to Etsy or thinking about selling on Etsy you may want to check out Part One.
Selling on Etsy ~ Part One ~ Why Sell on Etsy ~ My Top 5 Reasons

If you have an Etsy shop and are struggling with it or just want to work it a bit harder, you may want to check out Part Two ~ Getting Your Items Found ~ Photography . And then be sure to follow my blog as I plan on continuing this series!

So from my time on Etsy, I have consistently found that there’s one thing that will affect my views and sales. It never fails. And Hubby has noticed the same thing.
How to Get Your Etsy Items Found. My #1 Top Tip that always works for me.Here it is.

Just keep listing.

I know!!! Simple, right?? But it’s true. You need to list consistently on Etsy to have views and (hopefully) sales on Etsy. Whenever I neglect my store, views and sales go down. Same is true with Hubby.
Adding new items is great. Tweaking older listings is fine too. Re-doing a photo or two and fiddling with prices. All good. Just BE there. Sign into your account daily and play around. Do something.

No time for a new listing? Tweet or pin a few of your items. Find an item about to expire and redo the title, move the pictures around and tweak the tags. Probably in the four months since you listed that item you’ll have learned something new about SEO or photography and can do a few updates. Or, you’ll see some error or omission that completely escaped you before.

Yes. What you’re selling is important. Photography is important. Titles, tags and description of your item are all important. (And yes we will cover all those in future posts 🙂 )
You could have the most perfect listings in the world, but if your store is stagnate, the chance of your items moving goes down.

I hear from a lot of sellers who loaded up their Etsy stores all at once with maybe 10-20 items and then sit back and wait.
Nothing happens, so they say, “Nope, Etsy doesn’t work. I’ll go back to Ebay or Amazon or wherever”.
First of all, 10-20 items is not enough. Second, you have to work it!

Here’s another reason I say this. Hubby and I have different stores. We have completely different styles of listing. Hubby is way more patient and thorough. His titles are complete..his descriptions go on forever…he gives so much thought to each item and how a buyer might find it. I’m more of a slam-bam, here are the main points, do-you-want-it-or-not type seller. Every year (for the past few years) our sales in each store are about even. 
But when we ignore our stores? When we can’t list anything new? When we get caught up in our Ebay listing or working on another Etsy shop? Because, believe me, that does happen to me a lot. Be it for a few days or a week or more, our views and sales suffer.

**So HOW we do our listings is not as important as HOW OFTEN we list.**

Another example is our 5th store. Vintage Paperology. Neither Hubby nor I have had much time for it lately so I ended up just putting it on vacation.

Why did I just put it on vacation? Because I knew that if we didn’t have time for it….listings would just sit. I wouldn’t have time to add new items or promote or anything. All the items would just slowly fall off and expire. Which is what happened. No views, no favorites and definitely no sales.
It was NOT what I wanted any random visitor/customer who found their way there to see. So I felt better (and less guilty) by putting the store on hold for awhile.

So that’s my #1 Top Tip for getting your items found (and hopefully sold) on Etsy. Like they say, “If it ain’t listed, it can’t sell” or “if you list it, they will come”.

Oh okay…I do have one more bonus tip for you. Say you have a bunch of great new items you want to add to your Etsy shop. You only have the weekend to do it. 
Go ahead, make the listings. Launch a few. But then…save the rest as drafts. Then as your week goes on, take a few minutes every day or every other day to sign into your shop, and move  1-2 items over to Active. 

So how about you? Are you an Etsy seller? Have you had this same experience? Please share your stories below!

How To Tuesday ~ How To Remove Smoke Odor from Paper

How To Remove Smoke Odors from Paper ~ A fast and easy trick to solve this dilemma! With an item you already have in your home!

I’ve told you about my new obsession with vintage sewing patterns, right? Okay, well I may have mentioned it in passing…but seriously! They are so much fun!
Look at this!

Or even this:

How stinking cute!!
So anyway, even though I couldn’t sew a stitch to save my life…sewing patterns fit in the Recycleista’s philosophy of matching up quality vintage items that have lots of life left in them to the right buyers. Be Green! Buy Vintage!
Not long ago, I bought a box full of sewing patterns on Ebay. SO much fun to browse through. But as soon as I got the package in the mail, I knew there was a problem. I was opening the box and this overwhelming cigarette smoke odor hit my face.
Uh oh.
(my dealings with the seller and the whole resolution of that issue is another story…not to worry…it worked out fine.)
BUT, I ended up with a box of patterns. Honestly, the condition of the patterns was worse than described as well (damage, mold)…so many of them just ended up being fire starters in our wood stove.
However, there was a handful of nice, uncut vintage patterns that were fine….except for the smoke smell. I needed a solution for removing smoke odor from paper.
So I turned to the internet. And amidst the suggestions of the freezer, a bin full of charcoal or kitty litter or baking soda…one idea surfaced repeatedly.

Okay. Small problem.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. At least 75% of the year looks like this.

Maybe an exaggeration. But in the fall and winter…I’m not going to be able to count on nice strong sunshine to remove smoke odor from paper.
Hmm…so it was time to turn to some artificial sunshine.

Yes! A hair dryer.
I’ve tested this method to remove smoke odor on sewing patterns, but the principles should apply to most paper goods.

First thing I do is shoot the hair dryer full on into the pattern, contents and all. Some patterns are more brittle and fragile than others, so handle carefully.

Then I take the pattern and instructions out and aim the heat at them one at a time. I didn’t totally unfold the pattern tissue, just did the best I could. I also aimed the dryer into the empty envelope.
It takes a bit of time so be patient…maybe close to a minute or so on each section.

And be careful not to burn your fingers!.

The first time I tried this I was shocked! It really, really helped! At least 90% of the smell was gone. I could use the dryer longer and probably completely remove it…or in this case, I just added a disclaimer to those listings on Etsy. If a buyer is allergic or super sensitive…I still want to make sure they won’t be bothered.

Have you tried the sunshine method before to remove smoke odor from books or paper? What’s your go-to method for removing those odors? Leave a comment below!