About Me

My photo

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!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vintage Gifts - Navigating Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Don't forget when out shopping this weekend that many vintage and antique shops will also be having sales and when you buy vintage, you're always supporting local business. There's a lot going on in my world for sales around this big shopping weekend. Here's where to find my items, the sales you can get and the fun experiences waiting for you!

Wallach House - Eureka, MO - Each year the Wallach House holds "Candlelight Casino" on the weekend of Black Friday. The shop will have extended hours on Friday, November 25th and Saturday, November 26th. Come in and spin the big casino wheel and see what your prize or discount is! Every customer gets to spin and you can win up to 50% off everything in the store. My case is #10 on the bottom level of the shop - be sure to check it out!

Just Around the Corner - Marysville, OH - Small Business Saturday is the 26th. Come out to Just Around the Corner and see the new Christmas items and check out all the sales. The shop recently put a lot of beautiful items on the clearance rack. I have several pieces of beautiful costume jewelry on consignment here - so be sure to visit and support them! 

Etsy - Vintage Baubles & Bits Online - All weekend, starting November 23rd through November 27th I'll be having a Holiday sale on everything in the shop. Use coupon code HOLIDAY20 during checkout to get 20% off your entire purchase. There are more than 130 items up in the shop for your browsing pleasure!



Help support small businesses this holiday season and get yourself and your loved ones some pretty pieces in the process! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Loyalty Programs - Good for Business?

I've now been a seller on Etsy for just over two months and I've felt like I'm getting rather consistent sales, but I'm definitely not ready to give up a day job yet! But I've been selling long enough to start having repeat customers - which is awesome! Now I'm working on a plan for what I can do to keep those customers, but not face the seller's dilemma of only getting them when you have a sale.

I've been doing a lot of research on pricing points, good selling interactions and how to market yourself/your brand. Everything I'm reading says you don't want to set yourself up to only get purchases when you're having a sale, so offering too many discounts or discounts too often can actually hurt your bottom line. I equate it to not becoming a Kohl's even though I love Kohl's. I admit, I fall into this category - when I'm looking for clothing and shoes I shop most of the time at Kohl's, but I go only when I have coupons, bonus bucks, there's a huge sale or all three. I've never purchased a full-price item at Kohl's. Not in years.

While it's less of a concern for Kohl's because my volume of purchases over the year makes up for my only buying with coupons/sales, the same can't be said for small businesses. I'm never going to have the volume of sales as a chain department store with a huge, very broad spectrum inventory. I sell unique, often rare or one of a kind, vintage items. So how does someone like myself go about building customer trust and repeat business without hurting profitability - especially when I have relatively thin margins?

After research - here's the tact I'm planning on taking and would love to hear feedback on from both buyers and other sellers!

Part One - First Time Buyers

If you purchase from my shop for the first time you'll fall into one of two categories - Buyer under $10 and Buyer over $10.

If you spend under $10 in my shop I send you a thank you note and I write a coupon code for 10% off your next purchase on it as a token of my thanks. I figure this way if you're on a budget, or if you're likely to make repeat small purchases I can still offer you a sale/coupon, but not lose $1.25 on on $5 item, which is likely to be more than half of my profit on the piece.

If you spend over $10 in my shop you get the thank you note and a coupon code for 25% off. Same thought process - if you were willing to invest in your first piece without a coupon then you'll be likely to spend over $10 again and even more likely to purchase at a higher amount if you get 25% off your entire purchase.

The only exception to this rule of thumb is if your first purchase from my shop was made with a coupon. I run promotional sales for fans of my Facebook page and Twitter followers and I'll put sales up in my shop banner on Etsy, if during your first purchase from me you used a coupon code, even if you spent over $10 I give the 10% discount code in your thank you note. This way you still get a reward, but hopefully you don't come to expect to receive a discount for every purchase.

So far this system has worked well, but just this week I had a return buyer who'd already used a coupon on her second purchase and I wanted to be able to still reward her, but not issue another coupon - which sparked all this research!

Based on what I found I had a couple of options - give an additional "free" item in the shipment of this mailing, give a sample of another product, offer a service, or start a loyalty program. Since I don't have a bunch of vintage items lying around to just toss in when someone makes a purchase and I don't actually have samples of other projects/products, I automatically ruled those out. This has left me with both the idea of developing a loyalty program and offering a service - both of which I will put into implementation.


Part Two - Loyalty Program

Here's the program I'm thinking of putting into effect - I'd love to know if you think it's appropriate, if the rewards are something you'd be interested in or even if you think it's too generous!

Return Buyer - After your second purchase in the shop I will send in your package a loyalty card/voucher. I'll add up all your previous purchases and stamp your card with your current balance. Reward points will be earned at $10 increments. For every $10 spent on merchandise (not including shipping) you'll earn 1pt. At the 5pt mark ($50 spent) you'll earn free shipping on your next order. At the 10pt mark ($100 spent) you'll earn a free item, up to $10, or $10 off your next order, whichever you prefer. If you select the free item you'll just pay the $.20 listing fee and shipping!

Once you've reached the 10 point mark I'll send you a new card with your next order and the process starts over again - at 15pts you'll earn free shipping, at 20pts a free item and so forth.

Part Three - Service

I realized when doing this research that there is a service I can provide and why people buy vintage from me - because I make it easier for them. The best service I can offer is to do custom "picking" or tracking down of a specific item or style of item they would like. It's like when Mike and Frank from American Pickers take on a client and go find items specifically for them. So once you've purchased from me a few times and you're an established customer that I can depend on to actually buy an item if I track it down for you, I will make this offer available to you.

What do you think of my three-prong business retention approach? Thoughts on how to make the program better? Other loyalty program/service items you like from vendors you deal with? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Whiting & Davis - A Brand History

I absolutely adore Whiting & Davis. A.D.O.R.E. it! I first learned about this brand when I started my vintage purse collection. Whiting & Davis is very well known for creating metal and mesh purses. Of which I now have several. So much to my pleasant surprise I found out that they made really high-end costume jewelry too. The pieces I've seen that I love the most tend to be their cameos. I've had several pairs of Whiting and Davis clip cameo earrings come through my shop and just this past week I was lucky enough to be top bidder on a table of jewelry at an auction. I had combed through the boxes of lot jewelry and noticed that one of the boxes of miscellaneous jewelry actually had several vintage compacts and a nice box, which, just so happened to contain a gorgeous Whiting & Davis Cameo set! Pendant and clip earrings were both so pretty! They were worth the price of the whole box!

Whiting & Davis was based in Plainville, MA and started producing mesh chain purses in the late 1800s. They're also one of the oldest costume jewelers in the country as well. Research I've done (www.vintagecostumejewels.com) indicates that the company was started as a chain making firm owned by William Wade and Edward Davis. Then in 1907 C.W. Whiting became a partner and the company created a machine that allowed them to produce what they became most popular for, mesh purses or bags.

In addition to the bags they're most well known in the costume jewelry world for their cameos, both glass and hand painted porcelain. What makes some of their cameos so beautiful is the use of iridescent glass. Cutting the cameo heads out of this material gives them a shimmer and glow that is irresistible! They hit a real popularity in the 1950s when the introduced a reproduction line that created cameos and other jewelry sets that looked like museum pieces.

They're also know for being more inventive in the coloring of the glass and cameo settings. They created a line of "Topaz Glass" where they put a cream colored iridescent glass over a black glass background to create a brown, topaz-like color.They also created cameos that look red, pink or purple depending on the lighting by using frosted glass against a black glass background.

Whiting & Davis is still in business today - but only in their purse line. They stopped production of their costume jewelry in 1991. By the general rule of thumb, to be "vintage" an item must be at least 20 years old - so all pieces of Whiting & Davis Jewelry are now officially vintage, as of this year.

This brand is one I personally would spend money on. I trust the quality of the materials that Whiting & Davis used and I love the craftsmanship. Depending on the age of the piece is where you'll see different price points. For sets that are from the 1950s-1960s I'd easily price those, depending on quality at $50-150, with the high-end pricing for a set that included a bracelet or earrings, necklace and brooch, or for pieces that date in the 1920s-40s. If you find these at an estate sale, auction, flea market or antique shop add them to your shopping list!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gerry's - A Brand History

Gerry's

 The Gerry's Jewelry Company or Gerry's Creations, Inc. brand created costume jewelry from the early 1950s through 1996 when they went out of business. One of the items they're most known for is Christmas brooches/pins. In fact, depending on the brooch I've seen these posted online at over $100. Not sure if they're selling at that amount, but that's what they are listed as.

For the most part though, unless a rare, valuable Christmas brooch, Gerry's is considered a lower-rated costume jewelry brand and isn't usually priced too outrageously, so they're good for starting out vintage jewelry collectors, especially if you're young and don't have a lot of disposable income.

If you're a fan of brooches Gerry's created hundreds of styles, from the popular Christmas trees, to fun, funky animals and basic elegant flowers and leaf motifs.

My advice on purchasing items marked Gerry's - because it at least has a maker's mark it does have some more value than similar items that don't have makers markings, but typically the materials used to create Gerry's brooches were of average quality. If you're choosing between two similar brooches in materials and style and one is marked Gerry's and the other unmarked, I'd go with the Gerry's. But if you're choosing between a Gerry's brooch and a clear rhinestone brooch that's art deco in style and looks like it came from the 1920s I'd go with the rhinestones! 

Personally, unless you were purchasing one of the more coveted Christmas Tree brooches, I'd never spend more than $20 on a piece from Gerry's and that'd only be for something like the cameo necklace featured in this blog.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

West Germany Costume Jewelry - A History


 As a collector of vintage jewelry and other pretty girlie things, the 1950s are the era I most connect with. I just love the gloves, the formality, the pumps and the sparkles. Which, for people who know me personally, you'd probably never guess, as I hate wearing heels, pantyhose and makeup... But when it comes to vintage fashions I concede and go all out! There are two specific types of jewelry that I always associate with the 1950s - those marked West Germany, Western Germany, W. Germany and those marked as Hong Kong or Japan. Today's post will focus on Germany and I'll cover off on the Japan items at a later date!

When you see a pair of round, 1in in diameter, beaded clip earring, odds are it's from one of these two regions. And you know it's vintage as Western Germany no longer exists and Hong Kong is no longer a city-state!

After World War II Germany split into two countries, which lasted from 1949 until the Communist East Germany was dissolved in 1990 - with the very broadly publicized tearing down of the Berlin wall. After the devastation from World War II Western Germany set out to rebuild the economy of Germany and experienced what is known as the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) of the 1950s and became the world's third largest economy. A large part of this success came from an increase in the production and manufacturing of goods, like costume jewelry.

Relations between Western Germany and the US also improved during this period of time, which led to better international trade, including items like costume jewelry. Besides the popular plastic bead sets, Western Germany also became know for hand-painted porcelain and enamel pieces, mostly of floral settings and cabbage roses. Even when not marked you can often tell a Western Germany piece by the style of the painting and the color palates. 

            Many German women went to work after the war manufacturing and painting the jewelry and certain artists became very popular, such as the artist M.Goyer that's featured in one of my brooches. She did porcelain earrings and brooches, as well as glass and china sets during her career.


What the markings of W. German, West Germany and Western Germany tell you is just the country of origin, this doesn't indicate an actual manufacturer or brand at all. So it's a bit hard to tell exactly where the piece came from, but unless signed by the artist it's generally assumed that the pieces were part of a surge of mass production.

Despite some of the information I've seen online that says things were only marked West Germany after 1970s through the 1990s, I know this to be false. While they may have been required to mark things during that time frame you can tell by the style and materials the time periods that these pieces came from and they were definitely before the 1970s. By the 70s the trend had turned to post or "pierced" earrings and the size of the earrings themselves had changed drastically. The heavy use of beads had also changed by the 70s, or at least the colors and styles had. So had the desire for the hand-painted pieces, manufacturing had grown drastically by the 70s and you would see more mass produced pieces that were stamped (which you can usually tell if it's a stamp or sticker applied as those materials don't hold up to wear as well as the paint).


Throughout the post I've tried to include photos of pieces for you to watch for. While there's not a lot of money in pieces marked West Germany (again, unless signed by a well known artist) they are considered by vintage collectors to be more valuable than pieces that are unmarked and have no country of origin. Plus you'll have collectors that will specifically collect pieces from specific regions - so there is some innate value there.

My recommendation - buy the styles and colors you like!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coro - A Brand History

Part II of my series on top vintage costume jewelry brands, featuring Coro.

Coro

Coro Jewelry has been around since 1900. It was founded in New York as part of the Cohn & Rosenberger company which was started by Emanuel Cohn and his partner Carl Rosenberger. The brand made costume jewelry for 79 years, closing their doors in 1979. The name Coro wasn't actually adopted by the company until 1943, when the blend of Cohn & Rosenberger's names was officially made the corporate name.

Cohn had died in 1910, but the Rosenberger family still gave tribute to his contributions to the brand. Carl continued to manage the company until his death in 1957, when the brand was taken over by Gerald Rosenberger, Carl's son, who managed the company until his death 10 years later.

The family sold 51% of the company to Richton, Intl., who bought out the whole company in 1970. In 1979 Coro went bankrupt and closed it's doors for good.
So you know when you're out shopping vintage and run across a Coro brand, it's at least 32 years old! Which for me is exciting news, as I found a couple of pieces of what we refer to as "dead stock" Coro several months ago. Dead stock means that the jewelry is actually "new" or at least never sold or worn. Normally this comes from businesses cleaning out old inventory or going out of business themselves and cleaning out warehouses of old inventory. I love finding dead stock and seeing the original packaging and branding on products!
To find out more about Coro marks visit this great reference site: http://www.illusionjewels.com/costumejewelrymarkscoro.html

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Givenchy - A Brand History

Recently I've been asked by a few followers about specific brands and I thought, oh, that'd make a good blog series! So here's the first entry!

Givenchy

I'm relatively new to finding this vintage brand myself, but lately it's popped up at several estate sales I've been to. I purchased two items with the Givenchy brand in the last month and they couldn't be more different! The first was a brooch the other - a pair of pantyhose! So I was curious about a brand who could create such different items for distribution and here's what I discovered.

Givenchy is a French brand and it's still in existence today. It was started in the 1950s by Hubert de Givenchy, just as the couture scene in Paris was really taking off. Givenchy was a clothing designer who studied under famous designers like Jacques Fath and Lucian Lelong. He's given credit as the first designer to come up with a luxury ready to wear line in 1954 and is most famously known for his 40-year long relationship in fashion with Audrey Hepburn, who was his muse. He also designed for Lauren Bacall and Jackie Kennedy. In the late 1960s and early 70s he realized that his brand had value and he began to apply it to other products like jewelry, linens and shoes. It's likely that the brooch I picked up is from the late 1960s to early 70s when this branding rush was happening.

In 1988 he joined in with the Louis Vuitton company, but still producing under his own brand. The pair of pantyhose I picked up are from the early 90s, right before Hubert's retirement in 1995. The company is still run today under the guidance of designer Riccardo Tisci.

I think it's amazing to see the gamut of more than 40 years in the fashion industry from a singular brand perspective!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Little Something for the Guys

I don't often pick up too many items specifically for the guys - but I was asked by a friend if I could keep a look out for a few items and my cute boy was willing to model a couple of the hats that actually fit his rather large noggin (grins).

Here's what I found:

The Fedora:

A little history lesson - The term fedora was in use as early as 1891, but it wasn't a men's hat, but a women's fashion statement!

The 20th century version that we all know and love came into use in about 1919 as a men's middle-class clothing accessory. Its popularity soared, and eventually it eclipsed the similar-looking Homburg by the 1920s and really hit a peak in the 1950s when gangster movies became popular and movie stars brought the fashion new life.

The 1960s saw an end to the trend of men wearing fedoras when the style became more long hair, free-movement and casual.

It wasn't until the 1980s when pop stars like Michael Jackson came along that the fedora was made popular again.

Now fedoras are hip again, especially vintage throwbacks like the one C is sporting!

The next men's hat style I focused on was the flat cap.

The Flat Cap:

 This particular hat style can be traced back to the 14th century in Northern England, parts of Southern Italy, and in Scotland and Ireland. When Irish and English immigrants came to the United States, they brought the flat cap with them. This style of cap is also referred to in some parts of the UK as a cheesecutter cap because of its wedge shape, not too unlike our cheeseheads up north!

Flat caps tend to be made of wool, which started as an Act of Parliament in 1571 to stimulate domestic wool consumption and general trade. The act decreed that on Sundays and holidays, all males over 6 years of age, except for the nobility and persons of degree, were to wear caps of wool. The Bill was not repealed until 1597, though by this time, the flat cap had become firmly entrenched in English psyche as a recognized mark of a non-noble subject.

 Flat caps were almost universally worn in the 19th century by working class men throughout Britain and Ireland, and versions in finer cloth were also considered to be suitable casual countryside wear for upper-class English men (hence the contemporary alternative name golf cap). Flat caps were worn by fashionable young men in the 1920s.
Oddly enough the hat style has stayed popular due to Irish and Scottish decedents in cities like Boston and New York, bringing the style a whole new life!

I'll be posting these hats to my Etsy shop soon - wouldn't your guy look fine in one of these!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where to Find Me Next - Wallach House Holiday Open House

This weekend is hot for holiday open houses! You'll find me in person at the Wallach House in Eureka, MO on Saturday for a few hours and again on Sunday from 10-5pm. This Friday and Saturday the Wallach House is hosting their annual Holiday Open House - there will be snacks, wine (every day but Sunday!) and sales as well as new merchandise!! Be sure to come out and visit!

Friday and Saturday are special in Ohio too! Just this past week I've started consigning with cousin's shop in Marysville, Ohio. You'll find Just Around the Corner to be a great shop filled with vintage items, homemade treats, children's clothes and lots of fun winter holiday gifts! They'll also be hosting an open house Friday and Saturday, featuring some of the costume jewelry that I just shipped last week!

Finally, in  honor of all the holiday open houses I'm hosting a sale in my Etsy shop too! Everything in the shop will be 25% off with coupon code STL25. Please wait until Friday and Saturday to use the code! I've posted tons of new items since my last blog, so be sure to check it out!

Happy Holidays all!

If you aren't a fan on FB yet please consider liking my page to get updates and notifications about sales early! As well as links to handy resources, good blogs and other vintage FB pages - www.facebook.com/vintagebaublesnbits

I'm also on Twitter! Follow along with VntgBaublesnBit