Buying gifts for friends and family can be tricky. Buying gifts for friends and family who thrift, yard sale or stalk antique malls can be double-y tricky. You hand them a mall store gift card and they just stare at you blankly. Gift them the latest gadget and you may get a mumbled thanks.
What else is there to do besides cash? You may be surprised to know that a lot of thrift stores have gift cards! Goodwill, Value Village/Savers have gift cards…can’t hurt to ask at the ones in your area. And believe you me, a thrifter can make that $20 thrift store card go a LOT further than one from a mall 😉
And trust me, when we’re not thrifting or antiquing…we want to read about thrifting and antiquing. (I recommend this series…and I’m excited to see new volumes have come out that I haven’t caught up on yet!)
So there you go, 15 gift ideas for thrifters to get you started! Or maybe you see something for yourself? 😉
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.
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!
((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?
But first….the finds…
Well first, let’s talk about what I found…cuz that’s more fun! lol.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!