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!

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

This is how. (This post contains affiliate links..you 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 things..lol.



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! 

What Is My Vintage Item Worth?

How to Research Your Thrifted Vintage Finds!

Whether you inherited great-aunt Martha’s estate or you are an Ebay/Etsy seller and come across killer deals at the flea market…there comes a time when you want to know “what are my vintage items worth?”. For our purposes today we will be focusing mostly on the reseller angle. (This post contains affiliate links – see our full disclosure here)

The short answer is “they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay”.

While this is definitely true, by gathering information about our item we can possibly increase the amount someone is willing to pay. Understanding the rarity (or not) of our items plus their background and history can hopefully get us to a reasonable asking price and the item into the hands of a new owner.

The following are a few options that I use when I’m researching the vintage items I sell on Ebay or Etsy. In doing this, I’m trying to find out more about my item. I want to learn the history of the item, the age, the designer. I want to know how rare or common the item is…how does the condition of mine compare to the condition of others available?

Once I have that information, that can help me with pricing my items. I can see what other similar items have sold for and how recently. I can see how many are available at the current time.

Online Selling Sites

This is probably where I start most of the time. I search right on Ebay itself. Other sellers’ listings can be a gold mine of information. I do take a look at current listings to see what’s available but for pricing ideas, it’s absolutely important to search the “SOLDS”. To find the sold prices on Ebay: from your search results page look along the left side of the screen – you probably have to scroll down a bit until you see the “Sold Items” checkbox on the side. Click that.

Finding Sold Prices on Ebay

The prices will change to green. That’s how you know the item is sold. On a side note…if you just check the “Completed Items” box right above the “Sold Items” one, you’ll see all the items that have ended, sold and unsold. This may also give you an idea of how desirable the vintage item is – if many were listed and only few sold, that may tell you something.

If you have the Ebay app on your phone, the process is similar. Search results page, hit the “Filter” or “Sort” link at the top, scroll down and toggle the “Sold Items” tab.

You can also search Etsy and Ruby Lane for information and pricing ideas. Since both of these sites are focused on vintage and antique items you may be more successful finding your items there.

On Ruby Lane, you can see a limited number of solds since many sellers remove their sold items monthly. On your search results page, scroll down to the very end of the results. Recently sold items that fit your search terms will be at the end of the list.

Etsy does not have a sold items section…HOWEVER…if you come across a link to a specific sold item, either through a search engine or Pinterest, you can put that link into Flipper Tools. This will work for older Ruby Lane sold items as well as Best Offers accepted on Ebay.

Worthpoint

After searching Ebay and Etsy, my next stop is definitely Worthpoint. No, it’s not free. Yes, I pay for it and have done so for several years. Honestly, I don’t think there is a day that has gone by when I’m working and listing that I haven’t accessed it. I think it’s invaluable for vintage selling.
Ebay search only goes back 90 days but Worthpoint shows Ebay solds (and other sources) going back several years.

Sometimes as sellers of vintage and collectibles, we come across items that are a bit more rare. Here’s an example.

I’m still researching this vintage enameled egg shaped locket and really have no idea the exact age. I bought it online and it was described by the seller as a Russian egg locket. I can’t confirm or deny that. There are no marks. It’s not gold and the stones are rhinestones. I can understand the Russian reference since it’s reminiscent of Faberge eggs and the double headed eagle with the crown on top looks very Imperial.

But what surprised me was that I couldn’t find many others like it. Several egg shaped enamel lockets but none with the figural eagle on top. So I turned to Worthpoint and I found….ONE. Well, at least the closest to it I could find.

Worthpoint Results

Holy schnikes. Okay, so mine is not guilloche enamel, it’s just black enamel. And I don’t have the stand that this one does. But it definitely sold for a lot more than I expected. I just discovered a missing tiny stone so that will affect my price as well.

This has happened countless times over the years, where research on Worthpoint has helped me get more information on my vintage items and caused me to price higher than I might have first been inclined.

If you’d like to try it out, Worthpoint has a free trial. Click here to get 7 free days or 7 free lookups. You will get billed if you continue to use the service after the free trial, so keep that in mind. There are a couple levels of subscription. I’ve always just used the Price Guide, so I can’t comment on the Marks Library value.

Search Engines

We all know Google. Google is actually pretty invaluable. But don’t forget different aspects of this search engine that may help you. When I type in some keywords or search terms, I not only read through the initial text page, but I also click on the Images tab. I can scan pictures pretty quickly to see if I can find a match to my item. Either to another similar item for sale or to a website that discusses the item.

You can also upload a photo of your item to Google and conduct an image search that way. Google will scan images all over the web to find a match to your item. The results can be pretty comical but sometimes you hit a match. This can work well for logos. Take nice clear, up close photos with clean backgrounds.

Your phone may also have a similar capability. Google used to have Goggles, but now I think they have Google Lens. My husband’s Samsung phone has Bixby Vision.

Don’t stop with Google. Many people I’ve spoken to have good success with Bing and Yahoo. It just may give you some results that Google doesn’t.

Facebook Groups

Don’t laugh! There is a wealth of information out there among the people!! On Facebook, collectors have gathered into (sometimes very specific) groups in order to discuss their favorite subject, share their collections and show off their knowledge. Take advantage of it!

I recently got this pair of salt and pepper shakers identified. It was in the Mid Century Modern Dinnerware group and the commenter identified them as Laurel pottery. She was a Laurel historian and I trusted her experience. Knowing the maker helped me realize that with the damage mine have – they probably weren’t worth listing. Still deciding.

Here are a sampling of groups I use to get answers. Also, I sometimes just read through the posts to learn.

Vintage Pottery and Chinaware Identification

I love VINTAGE TIES (pre-1960)

Sarah Coventry and Emmons Identification and History

West German Pottery

Mid Century Italian Ceramic & Bitossi

Mid Century Modern Dinnerware

What is this? Antique, vintage and unusual item identification

Like I said, that is just a sampling. There are SO many groups on Facebook for every category imaginable. Do a search for the category of your item and see what comes up. These are ones I’ve used repeatedly over the years and so I stay in the groups. And as mentioned, I love scrolling through them occasionally – it’s an education in itself.

A couple tips about Facebook groups: Be patient. You’ll have to ask to join the group and it may take awhile to get approved. Read the group description carefully. If the group is about pre-1960s ties, don’t post your wide 70s polyester beauties and ask for help. See if other people have asked for help and gotten a response. You may have to try more than one group. And lastly, don’t be thin-skinned, lol. This is a general social media rule but some of the groups can be a little intimidating if you take them too seriously.

A few thoughts on research in general

So, these are the main sources of information I use when researching my vintage items for reselling. Ebay or Etsy themselves, Worthpoint, search engines and Facebook groups. At times, though, there just isn’t information to be found. Comps just aren’t there. You have to know when to walk away and just list your item the best you can. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.

What about you? What are some other sources of information you’ve used to research your vintage items? Leave a comment below!