Meet the Vintage Seller ~ An Interview with Atty’s Vintage

It’s like I keep saying, a main source of inspiration for me in my vintage and reselling adventure is learning from other successful sellers. I love scouring their shops and checking out what has sold. As we know, selling vintage is often a very OOAK type business…so there is no way to completely imitate another seller. Which is great! Running a unique-to-you shop is what will spell success in the long run. (Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links)

This is the 4th interview in this series: Meet the Vintage Seller and today we will pick the brain of Atty from Atty’s Vintage and Atty’s Sprout Vintage (kids stuff!). Atty’s shop first came to my attention on Instagram! Her clean and professional photos plus her fun variety of items totally caught my eye. We’ll talk to her a bit about using Instagram later on. Note too how the story behind the vintage plays a large role in her online selling.

VIntage Seller SuccessStoriesAtty’s Vintage was opened on Etsy in 2009 and as of right now, it’s had 5519 sales. Her kids’ vintage shop, Atty’s Sprout Vintage has been open the same amount of time and has 5823 sales. Impressive stats!

Fullscreen capture 6212018 35251 PM


Fullscreen capture 6212018 53940 PM

Let’s get started.

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

I have been selling online since 2009.  About ten years ago, I went through a phase of constantly rearranging furniture and switching out vintage accent pieces in my home.  The pieces that were out of rotation, I decided to sell on Craigslist.  I had so much fun buying and selling and quickly got the vintage selling bug, hard!  The inventory was growing and I needed a bigger audience for all my finds.  That’s when I discovered Etsy.

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

 I was in the salon business for twenty five years and selling vintage on the side for the last five years of that.  I was getting burnt out of salon life so I decided to take a “break” and sell vintage full-time for a while.  It’s been three years now.

 

AttysVintageBlog3

Where do you source most of your items? 

Most of my items are from estate sales and a small portion from thrift shops. Part of why I love selling vintage is that I get to preserve and pass on someone’s history. With estate sales, you can get to know a bit about the owners whose items are for sale.  That connection makes the vintage so much more meaningful to me and my clients really appreciate the information.  You can’t get that at thrift shops.
That’s a fabulous aspect of estate sales that I hadn’t thought much about. 

Tell us a little bit about your process. (ex. Do you shop weekly and list daily? Do you process your items quickly? Or do you fight a backlog like so many of us?


Scouting for inventory is a weekly occurrence.  My poor car- so many miles driving all over town, and then some, for the sake of vintage!  Listing happens almost every day… and not fast enough by the sight of all the storage bins around my house.  Backlog is the story of my life- gahh!

AttysVintageBlog4

1960s Netting Veil Hat

Do you do this on your own? Any helpers?

I am a one woman operation …and wishing there were three of me.  Hence the backlog!

 You are on Etsy now with the 2 shops. One for kiddos and one for everything else. Have you thought about separating another niche out into another shop?

The thought of opening another shop gives me heart palpitations. Two Etsy shops is plenty for now. Handling my social media pages feels like running a third shop!

AttysVintageBlog5Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack Toddler Toy

Ha! I believe it!.. and we’ll talk more about the social media in a minute. But how about one of my favorite questions first. What are your top 2 favorite sales of all time from your shop?

This is a hard one.  There have many favorites that have sold.  For me, it’s the story of who owned the item that makes me love it. There are two estate sales that have stuck with me.  The first was the estate sale of Mrs. Dorff.  She was a school teacher for over thirty years here in the Twin Cities.  Her home had so many sweet memories of her teaching days.  You can view photos from her estate sale and items listed/sold on my Instagram page by searching #avdorffestate.  The other is the estate of Mrs.Offerdahl, who worked for Sears for nearly forty years.  Her and her husband’s entire life belongings was kept in that tiny house. They liked to travel, she had a thing for rooster figurines and he a thing for postcards. As cluttered and tight as that house was, there was a something so magical and comforting about it too.  Photos of her estate sale thus far are also on my IG page, search #avofferdahlestate.

Such fun! I love seeing the photos you take INSIDE estate sales on Instagram. And a great use of hashtags to collect all the photos from the estates together. Okay, so what would you say are your top 2 favorite items listed in your shops right now?

In the grown-up vintage shop, it would be the Melamine dinnerware set. The colors and pattern are so retro fabulous.  I can picture the kitchen these came from!
AttysVintageBlog11950s Branchell Melamine SetIn the kids shop it would be these books purely for nostalgic reasons.  It takes me right back to my teen years in the 80s.  So many memories!AttysVintageBlog21980s Paula Danziger Books 

I read those books too! Over and over. The nostalgia is the best part of selling vintage. And the colors on that Branchell set! Wonderful!
So, any goals for your shop(s) in the future?

Focus on listing more a day.  Also creating business stationary.  I’ve had that on the back burner for way too long.
I’m right there with you on that. I need to list more every day too. So here’s another fun one to think about. If you could travel back in time to when you started selling…what advice would you give your newbie self??

Don’t be afraid to spend more money on higher priced items for the shop.

That is so true! It’s a process a lot of sellers I’ve talked to have to work through.

Okay now let’s go back to the social media aspect of your vintage selling. We know you’re on Instagram, because that’s where I found you. Any other platforms?

 Facebook.

Do you ever sell directly on them?
On occasion I will sell vintage kids stuff directly on IG. As I gain more followers, I plan on selling more frequently.

How do you feel that Social Media has helped your sales?
 Sales from social media has been a slow and steady incline.  It just goes back to gaining followers- the more followers, the more sales from social media. I’m trying to find the balance of posting regularly without it consuming too much of my time.  Something I never expected when I started promoting my businesses on IG/FB is how much support my followers have given me.  Their enthusiasm and encouragement motivates me to find and list more great vintage everyday – which equals more sales! 

That is a very important aspect of social media, I think. It’s that “social” part that can influence us in a good way.  Finally, any tips for using social media?
Great photos are key!  Experiment with angles, lighting and take time to edit. 

True, true, true!
Thanks so much Atty for spending a few minutes with us!

Please take some time to browse her shops and follow her on social media!

attysvintage on Instagram

attyssproutvintage on Instagram

Atty’s Vintage on Facebook

E is for Ephemera ~ Selling Vintage A to Z

After a bit of a hiatus…here we are finally on letter E! Thanks so much for sticking with me. Selling Vintage A to Z is really one of my favorite series and you can see the collection of former posts (A to D) by clicking here.
This post contains affiliate links.

EisforEphemeraSo yes, today we are discussing EPHEMERA. I do think I had a bit of a mental block on doing this post because it is such a HUGE topic. I think I was at a loss on how to approach this topic and still provide value so I kept putting it off!
But…how do you eat an elephant?? One bite at a time.
So let’s take this big topic and break it down a bit.

What is Ephemera and Why Should I be Interested?

The overall idea of ephemera is something that doesn’t last a long time. Ephemeral beauty anyone? If we give ol’ Merriam Webster a quick look we see a bit more specific meaning given:

“2. paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles”

Ah-ha! We see why we are interested! “Paper items that were meant to be discarded after use” — and in most cases probably were. What does that mean? It means the pieces that did survive are more rare! And in some instances rarity will affect value.

Which brings us to the second half of that sentence…”but have since become collectibles“. This is not going to be true of every piece of paper that has ever been saved by anyone. There still has to be a certain amount of common interest. Items connected to famous people, famous places, places that are still in existence but have changed, and places or attractions that are still part of people’s collective memory will hold the most value.
ephemera7Vintage Cat Photo from Papers of the Past on Etsy (a great ephemera shop!)

Also, think of paper items that possibly give a glimpse into life in the past. Old photos probably come to mind. Fashion, jewelry, decor and old cars are a few of the things that collectors love to examine old photos for. Now it’s true, old photos were not technically meant to be discarded after use, but we can add in paper items like this to our overall theme. Just the nature of their makeup..paper, cardboard, etc….makes them fragile and vulnerable. Again…scarcity can affect value.

Examples of Ephemera Categories

There are many different ways a seller of vintage could go in sourcing and selling ephemera. Here are some I’ve come across (and have had a little experience with).

Book plates (from damaged and falling apart books).
I have actually had an entire Etsy store based on this and I still have a lot of the inventory. Old books that have seen better days are fairly easy to come by and many of them have color plates or illustrations that people want for framing and decor. We did best with juvenile books and very specific subject books…such as in the mechanical or technical fields. That shop is on vacation right now (only so much time in a day) but you can see the types of items we sold if you click here.

 Posters

ephemera6Photo cred: PBS Antiques Roadshow

You may immediately think of movie posters or band posters and those can definitely be profitable. But there are a few other types that may not immediately spring to mind. School posters, work safety posters, travel posters (Antiques Roadshow anyone?), motivational posters and advertising posters.
One of my bucket list BOLOs (Be On the LookOut) items in this category is a vintage Apple Computers poster.

Mitzi Swisher, an experienced vintage reseller, sells posters and prints in her Etsy shop Vintage Goodness and on Ebay at Vintage Goodness Flea Market. Let’s do a quick mini-interview, shall we?


Me: What is your favorite type of ephemera to sell?
Mitzi: I’ve sold all types but posters and prints are what I tend to deal with the most… They can be good sellers, and I just really like them – especially illustrated ones, I enjoy the retro illustrations a lot.
ephemera4
Me: What was your favorite/best selling score/sale?
Mitzi: I found a box of posters that I originally thought were like promotional posters for the different departments of a school, they were really unique. After a bit of research I discovered they were actually the 1967 yearbook for the Pratt Institute, a college in New York. I actually was able to chat with one of the artists who worked on the project, and my blog post about them went a little bit viral – which of course led to the posters basically flying off my virtual shelves. 

Me: Why do you like selling ephemera?
Mitzi: Well it can be super interesting, which is always fun, but it is also very easy to handle – easy to photo, easy to store, and easy to ship. It doesn’t take up much room either which is a big plus.
ephemera5Me: Where do you find it ephemera to sell?
Mitzi: Estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, online auctions, and sometimes I can find a set or lot of something on eBay or Etsy that I can break up and sell individually.

Thanks so much for the insights! You can find Mitzi’s current blog here:
Vintage Goodness – A Blog for all the Vintage Geeks


Postcards
Think about it. You get a postcard in the mail. You read it. You stick it on the fridge. After a bit it gets thrown in the junk drawer. Eventually, when you’re in spring cleaning beast mode…it gets tossed. Or you’re on vacation…you enthusiastically gather up postcards to send to friends and family or to save in a scrapbook. They get thrown in your vacation tote….and that’s as far as it goes. Later they meet the same fate as the ones in your junk drawer. Classic ephemera definition.

I’ve seen boxes of them at vintage shows and flea markets…but didn’t really know what to look for.
So I was intrigued when I came across a fellow member of one of the Facebook groups I’m in (The Thrifting Board), who makes a great income selling postcards and sells about 6000 cards a year. Check out his shop: Popeye’s Postcards where he currently has about 18,000 postcards listed.

Here’s the lowdown from John himself:
“In all reality, postcards are mostly a high volume low price item. My average selling price is about $7 per postcard But, I sell about 600 postcards a month and my average cost per card is around $.25. So, it’s a great profit margin. They are easy to pack and ship. I can pull/pack/ship about 40 cards in an hour. Also easy to list as I can get about 50 new listings ready in about an hour using a 3rd party listing tool.”
And of course, the chance of hitting it out of the park is always out there, such as this NYC postcard that John sold for over $500.

Fullscreen capture 6122018 20027 PMGreenwich Village Postcard

It’s those stories that keep us resellers going!!
Want to learn more? John Miller was a recent guest on the YouTube show Thrifty Business with Jason T Smith. (yes, same show I was a guest on about a year and a half ago). You can click here to see his episode! Such great info!

Maps
We’ve had success selling maps of states and countries…individual pages from old atlases. I sold some directly on Instagram back in the day. These are great sellers!
But other maps to keep an eye out for are vintage gas station maps. Back in the day when traveling the country in your car was a popular pastime…you could pick up colorful maps for free at a gas station. Other businesses also gave away highway maps. People collect these as well.

This list could go on all day. Keep an eye out for vintage restaurant or cruise ship menus and placemats; matchbooks; receipts; invoices; military related paperwork; tickets – (concert, airline, railroad, movies); playbills and travel brochures (check out Disney ephemera!).

ephemera3Continental Airlines ephemera from Head 2 Toes Clothes & Keepers on Ebay

Also: vintage flashcards; handwritten recipe cards; greeting cards; labels – (cigar, medicine bottle, grocery); old letterhead stationery (especially hotels); vintage stickers (scratch and sniff!); advertising giveaway booklets; catalogs; public service booklets and vintage business cards.

ephemera2Mid Century public service booklet from Cherry Valley Vintage on Ebay

Even if an item doesn’t seem worth listing individually, sometimes several items in the same theme can be lotted up. Also, “lots” of paper ephemera are often sold to crafters and scrapbookers on Etsy and Ebay.

So seriously, don’t ignore the paper! At estate sales, check out the junk drawers, the desk drawers, the office. And don’t forget your own house and attics! You never know what paper treasure you might unearth.

Friday Finds ~ To the Vintage Hunter Goes the Spoil

Just a quick pop in to share a couple finds. I’ve actually not bought that much since the last time I shared. Had another out of town trip and found some really good flatware…I guess I didn’t share that with you except in my newsletter. (sign up is over there on the right….or maybe on the bottom if you’re on mobile).
Other than that, I didn’t get much in my local thrifts the last couple weeks except a couple really fun, educational vintage items.
This post contains affiliate links.

neapolitanLet me start off by sharing the flatware score. It’s by WMF Cromargan. It was in a bag at Goodwill all nicely bundled up together for one price. Love it!

DSC_0074So far I’ve sold 5 out of the 25 pieces for $120. Here’s what the pattern looks like.
DSC_0086Two Salad Forks by WMF Cromargan in the Nortica pattern.

The next fun find was this small trinket box or dresser valet box in this fabulous red color. The color is really what caught my eye.

DSC_0014 (2)With that sticker on the front – Ming Dragon Blood – I thought I was dealing with an Asian made item. I am woefully ignorant of the value of items from China (vintage that is) and so I almost didn’t bother.
But curiosity made me at least Google those words and I was surprised that they were attached to a mid century Californian potter named Brad Keeler.

One of Brad Keeler’s grand-daughters runs a website/blog that you can access here to read more about his history. I learned from that site that the “true red” glaze shown on this piece was formulated by Mr Keeler and named Ming Dragon Blood by him.

You can also click here to see more examples of his work.

My last find was also a fairly unique item from around the same time period, or perhaps a bit earlier.

DSC_0002 (2)Can you guess what it is?

DSC_0007It’s a hand carved perfume vial holder! The perfume is called “Tropic Kiss” and the label says “Remembrance of Pikake” (a flower used to make leis).
The older style label is what caught my eye as I scanned the bag wall at Value Village.
I can’t resist taking a closer look when I see something with obvious age.

I did a quick search on my phone of “pikake perfume”….everything was new perfumes…so then I added “wood” and found some comps. Nothing exact but solds were in the $40 range so I thought I’d go for it.

DSC_0008
Once I got home and did more research, I discovered the carver was John A Oya and that his items were quite collectible. (Yes, it does say his name on the label, but I’m afeered I’m nearing reading glasses age….yikes!)
The label also gives the location as Honolulu, H.T. which means Hawaiian Territory…putting the label at pre 1959 when Hawaii became a US State.

These hand carved perfume bottle holders were marketed as gifts for American military serviceman to send back home during WWII.

This one I found is in the shape of torch ginger and is probably made from Milo Wood. It’s in fabulous shape for it’s age and has a smidge of thick sludgy perfume left, lol. It seems to be a bit rarer of a design, so comps that I found for this exact item are a bit higher than what I originally researched in the store.
Hoping to get both of these items listed this afternoon.

I know what you’re thinking. These last two items do NOT fit my niches.
True.
But researching vintage items is SO MUCH FUN. And at least they’re small. 🙂
—————————
So…for next time. I bought a nifty little testing kit for my jewelry selling that I haven’t tried out yet. It’s a really affordable gold testing kit I got on Amazon. I will give it a whirl and report what I find!!

Flippin’ Flatware ~ Recent Thrift Store Finds ~ A Video!

I made a video again y’all. Ugh….SO not my comfort zone..but I’m willing to learn. I have no storage on my phone right now and so I used my old iPad mini which is super awkward.
I’m just technologically challenged with making videos…so I have to do some research! People make such cute ones with graphics and writing and such…no clue how to do stuff…I’m sure there’s an app for that though. 🙂

So here ya go!

If there’s something else you’d like to see in video..or different information about flatware…let me know! I’m open to ideas! I’m not sure I’m ready to face the camera, lol…but I’ve got some thoughts for things in the future that I just have to learn how to do.

How to Break A Thrifting Slump

If there’s one thing that’s true about this thrifting game, is that there’s not a whole lot of consistency. This can be good for some of us (me! me!) that get bored quickly and don’t do well with routines.
The finds are either feast or famine and the sales seem to go that way too.

IMG_6402I’ve told you about my future plans and my (half-hearted) attempt at slowing down the acquisition end of this business. But I’ve come to a very important conclusion.

I *NEED* to thrift!!

Thrift store

News flash! lol. No, I’m serious. I’ve determined that it’s the thrifting that keeps me going. It’s a reward system if you will. The excitement of the hunt and the find (yay!) carries over to the listing process. That excitement makes me want to get my finds out there and shared!! And hopefully sold!

Without that treasure hunt…I slow down in every other aspect of this business. I lose my mojo.

What I’ve found is also important…is finding GOOD stuff.

In the last few months I haven’t strayed much from my regular thrifting routine. There’s a Goodwill next to my grocery store…so that gets hit at least once a week. Also once a week, I run down a few towns over to my closest Value Village…which also has a Goodwill across the street. That’s generally what I have time for each week. And I love me my Value Village.
There’s one more Goodwill that’s about 1/2 hour away in another direction. It used to be my favorite, but it’s been pretty disappointing lately so I generally only go out there every 2 weeks…or sometimes just once a month.

But I’ve been SO BORED!

Believe me, I manage to find some things. But nothing super exciting. Nothing to get your heart pounding as you approach the shelf or bag wall. I know I can’t have home runs every week…but I was getting tired of seeing the same stuff every week.

I knew I needed to thrift out of my ZONE and see some fresh merchandise. I was plotting and planning and trying to figure out how to get out of town….lol…when the perfect opportunity came up!

We went up north about 3 hours to the area we’d like to move to and spent the afternoon house hunting. But in the MORNING…while the boys were running errands with Hubby…I got to hit another Value Village. I spent about 2 hours there and it was so satisfying. One more Goodwill in the evening and I was flying high. I called it research for moving. Ahem, yes, research.
Just to know that everything in the store was stuff you hadn’t seen before…and had potential…was so much fun.

I can’t say I had any huge home runs…but I managed to find a few things in my main niches.

Jewelry
This Value Village had TONS of jewelry. And most of it was out and available…not locked in the case.
DSC_0102Here’s what I found. A few of the names: Monet, Samuel Huang (the totem looking earrings…not the best buy…my memory failed me on that one…but you win some you lose some) Mizpah, Jorgen Jensen (the cuff links!), Bergere, Deauville, some 80s wonders. The bow shaped earrings inside the red Monet necklace are marked KJL: Kenneth Jay Lane. And the heart earrings just below that are Givenchy believe it or not.

Sewing Patterns

DSC_0024
Again, nothing super exciting. Some bread and butters. This was the thrift store that I found the Simplicity Jedi costume pattern that sold for $145.

Sigh. The moments we live for.

So. Nothing so exciting this time but we live ON these types of finds and sales.

Flatware

DSC_0025
Yay! I found flatware. My thrifts have been fairly dry in this department…not that I NEED more flatware to list…but again…I need the thrill to get me listing flatware again! I found one nice biggish bag that has some Oneida Twin Star flatware pieces and some good Ikea pieces. (Not all Ikea is great to sell…but there’s one pattern I keep my eyes out for and this bag has a few).
What I’m planning on doing in my next post is unbagging these flatware finds and letting you see exactly what’s there and how I’ll probably list them. Sound like a plan?

So as you can see, I did stay in my niches for the most part…Here are 2 of the outside-the-niche items…but the fabric can nicely get added to the bins of fabric I procrastinate on listing and the cheeky Starbucks mug is a super easy list.

DSC_0107

Oh and I almost forgot! I found this necktie. It’s from the late 1930s and it’s practically already sold through a Facebook group. Isn’t it lovely?

DSC_0030So how about you? How is the thrifting in your area? Do you hit slumps?
How do you handle them? Ever do a thrifting road trip? Comment below!