About Me

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I'm a communications specialist with a passion for vintage and I run an online vintage business called Vintage Baubles & Bits.

I consider myself a saver of beautiful items from the past and a repurposer of treasures!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finally - A Few Sales

I stopped by the South County Antique Mall today to take a few things out of my case (619) to either put on Ebay or take to the Belleville Flea Market next month. A brief view of the case let me know that at least people had been looking. The vintage monkeys were moved around, the 10-piece manicure set had been moved and several of the purses were in different spots, but I could really only spot one or two things that weren't in the case, so I knew at the very least I had sold one item. The item I knew was gone was this gorgeous pearl and cameo choker. Ironically I was planning on taking that one out of the case to give to one of my sisters for Christmas because I thought she'd love it. So apparently I'll be figuring out something else instead!

When I got to the front to pay for my second full month of rent the manager let me know that September is almost always the slowest month at the antique mall. He thinks it has something to do with the starting of school and all the money parents send getting their kids ready for the new school year. He pulled my report and I'd actually sold two items, the choker and this really neat brush and mirror set with intricate handles, turquoise backing and pink roses - they were just a beautiful set. I almost wish I'd asked more than $10 for them!

So after a month and a half and $90 I've banked $19.80, not exactly breaking even on the cost of the case like I had hoped. I've told myself that I'll stick it out through the end of the year at least. The manager mentioned that if I had any Halloween or Christmas items that I should get them in ASAP. I hadn't planned on buying any holiday specific items, but apparently they sell really well, so maybe I'll keep my eyes peeled for some unique and vintage holiday items to add to my booth...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My First Auction

After setting up at the Belleville Flea Market I picked the brains of some of my fellow vendors to see how they were able to keep their prices low and still make money at the market. Most of my items had come from estate sales and yard sales, so I thought I was doing well in finding items that were cheap and still easy to sell and make money off of. Apparently I was wrong, even at half off days at estate sales you can't always get the bargains you can get at auctions.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous - I hadn't ever been to an auction, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was tipped off to the site www.auctionzip.com and I have to say - it's really good. It allowed me to look up auctions within 30 miles of my zip code and I was able to discover that several auction companies have auctions every week at the same location (usually a VFW hall) and they have estate items as well as consignment items, where people will bring in things they want to sell and the auction company will take a percentage of their profits for auctioning off the items.

The evening started with selling "choice" bids on tables with miscellaneous bulk items. For instance, there could be one table with all the linens for sale and you bid against each other for the chance to take your choice of an item from the table. So if you bid $5 and were the top bidder you would pay $5 for each item you took off the table. This allows you to pick up a lot of things pretty cheaply. Normally they put random things in boxes on these tables too, so sometimes you don't know what you're getting.

Political satire magazine
I purchased two misc. boxes for $1 each and a set of six magazines at a dollar as well. Turns out one of the magazines is an issue of Successful Farming Magazine's tip book published in 1934!! Through my job I still do business today with Successful Farming. The tip book is called "How to Save Time, Save Money and Make Profits in Farming and Homemaking" and are tips sent in by readers over three years and then published in their own booklet. Totally awesome find!

Also in my random boxes was a tea cup and saucer set of Noritake China (a good brand), several glass cups and about a dozen white glass vases. Pretty cool for only $2!!

Green glass footed bowl with grapes
After they go through these tables they bid on furniture items. I was interested in a few pieces, but apparently so was everyone else! They ended up going for much more than I had on me and wanted to spend in a night. Oh well...

Pressed glass square bowl
Finally they go through each remaining item that's a bit more high-end. I think I impressed folks who were obviously regulars to this event because I wasn't afraid to bid and I helped drive up some prices. I spent $61 including the 10% buyer's premium the auction charges - so actual costs were more like $56.

Here's a rundown of a few things I picked up:

1970's Sake set in the original box (this was my gift to Chad for sitting through the auction with me)
20 qt stock pot for my canning projects
Amber sun burst bowl
A set of four multi-colored candy dishes
An entire box of jewelry
An American made gold mirror
Three glass bowls
All the amber colored glass being sold (two ashtrays, two small bowls and two large bowls and two goblets) for $2

There's a bit more, but it's hard to keep track of all of the items - especially the random things in the boxes!

Hofbauer German Crystal Bowl

I think this is a great way for me to go, it was cheaper than other options, took less time (I can spend a whole weekend going from estate sale to estate sale) and I got many really nice things!

Mother of pearl etched pins

Blue swan candy dish

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Does Ebay Really Work?

So I started the third prong of my selling tactics - posting items on Ebay. It took a bit to get started, I had to set up my Paypal account to be able to accept payments, set up an account for them to charge each month for the fees associated with your postings and then you have to upload all the photos you need and fill out the forms to actually post items.

I think I've done well in getting set up, but everything took longer than I thought it would. Plus the only way to do have free/cheap postings is to only use one photo and start the bidding at 99 cents. If you do anything other than that there are all sorts of fees associated with the process. Extra for each photo, extra to do a Buy It Now option, extra for postage options and the list just goes on! I was surprised at how they quite literally nickel and dime you. My cheapest posting was 10 cents, so hopefully that pays off. I just have a fear that when I start things out at 99 cents I'm going to end up losing money on the process.

Any tips from frequent Ebay sellers? Is it worth it to pay the upfront costs to set prices? Do things really sell better if they're marked at 99 cents to start like the site claims? I'm open to suggestions!!

My Ebay Items:

German Crystal Bowl

Green Glass Footed Bowl

Square Pressed Glass Bowl

Monocle Poltical Satire Magazines

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Collection of Pins

I'm fascinated by the number of ladies pins I see at flea markets, estate sales and auctions. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and designs and I always seem to be drawn to them, even though I usually only wear them to close up shirts that show a little "too much" or to off set the waist line of a dress. I can't help myself when I find them! I have a few I'm particularly proud of, including what I'm calling a paste flower that is in excellent condition and absolutely unflawed. Here are some of my favorites. 
Metal and black jewel flower
Paste flower pin
Gold flower pin with a past red crystal
Gold roses

Gold flowers with crystals

Rhinestone flower

Copper flower

Gold and pearl flower

Victorian cameo

Mother of pearl pins

Mother of pearl rose

Gold and white flower

Gold metal flower

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vintage Monkey

So the other day I went to an estate sale and I feel like I made out like a bandit! Sitting on a tiny chair was this vintage stuffed monkey, the kind with the rubber face, hands, ears and feet from around the 1950s or so. I was so excited and even more so when the lady said she'd let me have him for $1! Oh and then she went and threw in a second monkey (not nearly as pretty, in fact rather creepy) even older than the first one and not charge me for it. I also picked up a set of Noritake china that has a rare pattern, a sweet old hat and a purse - all for $10!! Talk about awesomeness!

Now these guys each needed some work and I spent a lot of time attempting to clean them up. The monkey with the rubber parts had years of dirt accumulated on him. I used toothpaste and a baking soda paste to scrub all the rubber parts and bring them back to their natural color. Check out my picture with the before and after shoes!

In addition to needing the rubber cleaned, both needed the fabric/fur cleaned up and to help eliminate some odors. I searched forever to find ways to clean these guys and the best solution I found outside of taking them to a professional shop is to rub a baking soda paste all over them or shake them in a bag of baking soda and then to rub that off and it'll help deodorize them and take off some surface dirt. I still think these are both worth taking to a professional cleaner and doll repair place to have some of their joints repaired, a better cleaning and a few stitches where parts are lose, but I'm not sure I want to invest in that if I'm going to sell them. If they don't sell and I choose to keep them I think I'll look into getting them fixed up and then displaying them somewhere that the dogs can't reach!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Case 619

So the second leg of my antiquing and vintage selling plan is Case 619 at the South County Antique Mall (see link). I have a lot of what the industry calls "smalls" or in other words not a lot of furniture or other large, bulky items and much of what I am selling does better being in a glass case. I started my case mid-way through August and was really proud of how well it looked. I checked out the cases around me and I felt I really stood out, but I sold nothing the month of August and I'm not doing so hot in September either.

I chatted with folks about cases and they recommend switching things up, adding new stuff, moving items around and making sure pricing is easy to see. So I went back and put place cards with descriptions and prices on key items I wanted to call out and I double checked my prices with similar items in the mall and felt mine were fairly reasonable and usually better, so I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing wrong.

I am open to any tips folks involved in this industry may have on ways to improve. I've told myself I'm willing to make the investment through the end of the year and if I lose the $270 I pay for the space for the four and a half months hopefully I'll learn from the lesson...

Friday, September 24, 2010

My First Flea Market - As a Vendor That Is

So I've been quite on my blog lately as I've really started to gear up for creating a small antiquing and vintage side business. Now I don't have a fancy name or anything special in terms of marketing, but I'm trying several different legs of a plan to hopefully at least break even on this little endeavor of mine. I realize I should have been posting photos along the way and sharing my finds, so pardon the order, but when I have time I think I'll go back so some of my cooler finds/great deals and share those as well.

Last weekend was the first time I've officially set myself up as a vendor at a flea market. I spent some time researching the markets within about a 30 mile radius of St. Louis and really, none of them compared to the quality of the Belleville Flea Market.Since I was new and a late-comer I ended up in the annex, or in fairground terms - "the Barn."

Overall the space wasn't terrible for $36 for a weekend I get a 10x20 space, which I was afraid I wouldn't fill up, but I did! My first day I was pretty bummed. We had beautiful weather, hundreds of people were at the market, but no one was buying. I sold four items and basically made just enough to cover the cost of the space for the weekend. So I told myself to be happy, at least I didn't lose money right? The big ticket item I sold on Saturday was a little nightstand table that had a secret spin open drawer where you could place your sewing supplies, complete with little spool holders and cut outs to hold buttons. It was very cute and I think a steal at $30.

The next day we dealt with a torrential downpour for the morning, which on Sundays I learned is ok, things don't usually pick up until around 11:30 to 12 once people get out of church. I doubled my sold number on Sunday for a grand total of 12 items - but managed to get rid of a couple of heavier/bulky items that lightened my pack up for home.

The grand total of my weekend adventure was $132, netting me just shy of $100 after paying for the booth, but when you figure what I had paid for the items my profits were much lower, lol.

The best thing about this first experience was the willingness of the other vendors to help each other out, like watching each others booths when bathroom breaks were needed and giving tips on pricing and bartering. I've learned I'm keeping my prices as is, but I'm willing to "negotiate" so the other person feels like they're getting more of a deal, I think this will be helpful the next time I participate.

If you're in the St. Louis area I'll be at the market again next month - In spot 12 in the Barn for the weekend of Oct. 16th and 17th. Come see me, I've found some pretty cool items since last time and will have many new things in the booth!