Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Honest Reseller/Indie Biz Talk: What's Selling, What's Not, and How to Sell ANYTHING

The frustrating thing about being a indie business owner/reseller is being unable to predict what the hell is going to sell! Looking back at sales is so very random no matter how much demographics research you do. Donating and marking down what won't sell is part of the process. Let's help each other out and start a discussion on what sells and what doesn't in your area and medium (eBay, Etsy, Antique Mall, vintage markets, brick and mortar store, etc.) I'm sharing from an antique mall booth/Etsy perspective.



Things That Sit Forever: Ceramic knick-knacks, non-atomic style retro kitchenware, ceramic mugs, ceramic non-1960s Mad-Men-Looking barware, non-valuable books. I do sell these things from time-to-time and they can sell for a lot, but they're slower sales.

Universal Recommendations: Very interesting novelty vintage/antique items, unique antique/vintage storage items, unique metal signs, items with interesting history, high quality 1960s mid century modern items, practical utilitarian vintage items with a use, vintage/antique electronics, and of course, things of collector/monetary value.

To Clearance or Not? My clearance experiments are done, my last one went up yesterday. It took almost all of my Sunday to re-shoot the items and mark them down without much payback, and it literally hurts me when an item I worked so hard to find/clean/list sells for less than my hard work and time. I'm basically giving the items away and I won't do it anymore. I want to establish myself as an artist/curator, not a bargain bin. I'm excited to return to selling my quality, carefully-selected wares at the wage I need to earn.

Anything Can Sell: I come from a marketing background and firmly believe with good branding/marketing you can sell anything. Branding will be my new focus. Let's take the polarizing expensive designer purse phenomenon as an example.

I have friends who love them, when I question their loyalty they site the "high quality and expense of the materials used". I can guarantee this $6,900 price tag does not reflect the sum of it's parts. Hell no. (Although I love that it's snake skin. Snake oil. Get it?! Sorry...) These brands sell you an experience and a lifestyle and people will pay out-the-ass to feel like a million bucks in a $6,900 purse. If your branding is done right, you can you sell your wares at whatever price point you want with hard work and determination.

(Everyone will find the money they "don't have" to buy something if they really want it, too. More lessons on that later. I was taught well by sales coaches/telemarketing peeps/bill collectors/marketing specialists/school of hard knocks. Oh, the yarns I shall weave...)

Choosing Your Mission: Do you want your brand to be Gucci or The Dollar Store? Trendy or artsy? Anti-establishment new agey or modern and trendy? There is no problem with being either, but is it just me when it seems like you have to choose one and choose well? And of course, if you're a knowledgable seller who cherry picks the valuable stuff and works hard you will be successful either way.

I reviewed sales from the past three years and my own art sold really well especially locally so I'm excited to spend more time making again and adding that to the line. Be you, have fun, make it unique and really communicate the value and why your customer needs the item and I honestly believe we can sell anything we want. But it's nice to make it as easy as possible and pick the items that have a better chance of selling!

What's selling for you locally, on eBay and Etsy, and beyond? Can you predict any trends for 2014?
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84 comments:

  1. Since my shop opened last March....I have only 2 tried and true items that have sold over and over again...but with that said...I have had one of each of those items on my site for quite some time now. So confused, but still learning. Thank you for your info!

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    1. What items were they, do share? :D For me it really is pretty random even if you look at my year's sales: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThriftCore/sold?ref=shopinfo_sales_leftnav

      But from talking with others, analyzing my sales with my boyfriend (he's a mathematics major/does inventory for north florida's biggest flower company. Wish I could hire him to work for me!) and looking at trends I came up with the universal buys. Anyone can feel free to challenge me on those though, I'm eager to learn.

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  2. Like you, I've had great luck with anything MCM. Whatever I put in my booth sells quickly, no matter if it's priced high or low (which means I price it a little high, LOL). The only problem is finding things that are not huge, like furniture. German ceramics tend to sell well, but it's hard for me to not keep all them for myself!

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    1. This amazing MCM furniture store opened up around the corner from my antique mall. We had a long chat (results here: ) and she agrees that sticking to smalls is where it's at because furniture can take so long to move, such a slow mover. I have three pieces in my house that will not move no matter what, I've decided to actually keep one it's been here so long ;) Maybe two, ha!

      For MCM it has to have that very trendy clean-line and shape look too, with the skinny legs. Especially here where MCM furniture is not so popular city-wide, only in certain areas.

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  3. Great post-- I will be interested to see what other sellers have to say. For me and my Etsy shop, it's kind of all over the place. I might say items that were quality when first produced stand a good chance selling. Well known authors are somewhat popular too like Poe. Usually the atomic 50s type kitchenware and dishes do okay. I've had lots of cute plates never sell-- old, pre-50s. I know what you mean about marking down prices to practically give stuff away. I've done that too, but I figured if it's taking up space for months and months, I'd rather get rid of it.

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    1. For me 1970s kitchenware especially is out of vogue, just not old enough perhaps? Too many popping up in thrift stores now? Thanks for sharing the info, I've had some plates sell, some not, helps to know what era is working for you.

      Your post sparked three more ways I can blame myself for things not selling: 1) -I- am too random so of course my sales will be. 2) I don't research a lot/put enough keywords 3) I don't establish value.

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    2. I find on Ebay that research is one of the most important parts of listing. Finding out what others have sold for. Whether it is a uncommon item that doesn't even show up in completeds.

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  4. Van I agree with your post 100%. In fact, I highly recommend reading a book called Worth Every Penny. It's all about branding and creating a business where you sell an experience and that gives you the ability to charge what you want.

    I think we also have to discuss psychographics here. I come from a marketing background too and have an article in the works very similar to what you are discussing here. I will have to reference you!

    Vintage clothing and jewelry seems to be suffering right now and honestly I think Etsy has flooded the market so it is driving prices down. But just as with MCM, the really wonderful rare dresses sell for a pretty penny.

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    1. Oh do share the article, would love to read it! I feel that locally there aren't many places selling vintage clothing/jewelry and it seems to do well but I can see how it would be hard online. I've sold vintage shirts to locals but haven't sold one via Etsy yet.

      I think with vintage selling outside of just selling the obvious valuable stuff we need to remember people buy it for the history and solidarity, unique items with a story for their life. Yet things they can use/display practically. I'm excited to keep that in mind while hunting/making into 2014.

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    2. Oh, playing catch-up on your blog, looks excellent and wonderful articles as always :)

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    3. I've been in quite a hiatus :\

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    4. At least there's quality stuff up the browse in the meantime!

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  5. Before I moved south, I sold really cool stuff because it was readily available at flea markets up north. I focused mainly on things that were small, old and metal, i.e., skeleton keys, lamp finials, old door, window and furniture hardware, lamp parts, religious medals, crucifixes, and anything unusual made out of metal. I did really well. Now that I'm in the south, everybody and his uncle is an antique dealer and antique shops are every 5 feet. I've been resigned to selling toys lately because that's all I can find that's reasonably priced at GW and yard sales. I recently had some good sales with dolls. Occasionally I'll get lucky and score a good collectible. Things that don't sell...well I tried baby hats like Gymboree. Nothing. Mugs are not very good sellers for me and neither are books. I try to avoid glass and breakables if I can.

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I need to move away from glassware. I personally love it and buy lots of it because there's so much of it here but that's the problem locally, people can get it anywhere so it's harder to sell for more. And it's a pain to ship and store. I -have- broken stuff. Boo! Love your focus on the "unusual". I gotta move back to that. That's where anyone can do well I feel.

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    2. Oh and yep, in the South there are so many antique malls! I sell most of my things online to the west, midwest, and northern US areas. For overseas sales most seem to go to Australia.

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  6. When I first started, I had one store. My store was mostly vintage home goods, vintage anything. I had a few books and games and they sold right away. I had many other books, but I didn't want to list too many and make my home store flooded with books and games. And then it dawned on me to open another esty store. I opened it up just 2 months after opening my first store. And my books and games continue to sell really well. I sell 4 times as much as in my home store. And the price point isn't necessarily lower. I have sold many books in the $50-$150 price range. I love having both of my stores, but my books will always be more successful for me. Yes, just like home goods, there are types of books that don't sell, and ones that sell immediately after I list them, but after a year, I think I have mastered that (hopefully). As far as the home store, MCM sells well, canister/mushroom stuff doesn't. Groovy stuff sells well (psychedelic stuff), Anything unique and whimsical does well. Ashtrays, no matter how cool, do not sell. Its a good sign, because it means people aren't smoking, I suppose. Serving platters, especially atomic inspired ones, sell, Of course anything atomic/boomerang/amoeba style sells! Wall hangings are hit or miss, but I seem to do okay with them. Its a continuous learning process. You win some, you lose some. After one year, I am just that much wiser. I remember telling my husband when I opened up these shops, that I didn't know what to expect, but I do expect lots of mistakes and mishaps, so bear with me this first year. (my first year did go well, and I made about what I imagined I would, a little bit more) This year, I want to double and I am, so far on track to do so!

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    1. I feel grateful I've actually sold some ash trays to justify my previous inability to leave them behind. I've sold 14 and have ideas for staging them/photographing them that will help me get rid of the rest. My atomic platters didn't sell locally all year, put them online for Christmas and they were GONE! Thanks for sharing your honest ups-and-down.

      I've seen other resellers do the same thing you did with opening a separate themed shop to great success. I may open a separate ephemera/book shop eventually, a good way to get items languishing in a busy homewares shop "seen".

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    2. Would like to hear more from folks that have more than one Etsy shop. I have been toying with that idea. Have also heard some people say the extra work wasn't worth it, but it does seem to make sense in my case; separating handmade items from vintage.

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    3. For me, it was soooo worth it. Also it keeps my shops more cohesive. I didn't want to make my shop look like I was just trying to sell anything to make a buck...just a random mish mash of vintage items, I didn't think would fare well. They appear more "specialty" now. I have even toyed with adding a third...but if I have to remember one more password and open up one more email account, my head will explode!

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    4. It has been completely worth it for me too. If you have a lot of one or two types of items, they can overwhelm a shop. I opened an ephemera shop. I used to have just as many ephemera items in my Vintage mish mash shop and only sold a few items here and there. Taking those items out and opening a separate shop for them has made a huge difference in my sales of those items. I also used to sell one or on occasion two pieces at a time and now most of my sales are multiple item orders. I realize a lot of that has to do with my items being ephemera, but the overall increase in sales I do attribute to having another shop.

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    5. Was gonna site you as a successful example Adrienne, thanks for sharing your feedback. Having a specialized shot can be really good so I love the idea and opening multiple shops. I too have heard the extra work isn't worth it but it can clearly pay off if you have enough items. I think it would help to move my books to a separate shop especially since I have so many and it doesn't fit the rest of merchandise which is almost entirely housewares.

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    6. Thanks everyone! Food for thought!

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    7. Love all the earnest feedback, thanks! Very encouraging.

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  7. I do really well on Ebay with vintage cross stitch and needlepoint kits, they can sell for over $100 dollars! Ties can be hit or miss, but I've done really well with designer ones. Also, right now "canadiana" is pretty big. not just beavers and maple leaves but anything with retro geese, wolves or moose... so I guess "nature" stuff. It's always worth stopping into an urban outfitters to see what they are selling in home goods, because it's usually repro of what we have in our shops!

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    1. I need to move my vintage cross stitch/needlepoint kits and much more over to eBay! Good idea on checking Urban Outfitters too, I was going to make a trip to our shopping mecca to analyze Anthro/Urban Outfitters and now I have more reason too. I always sell my lodgey hunting decanters.

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  8. What moves? Anything unusual priced right, period. What does not move: glassware, hollywood regency, brass,

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    1. Unusual is the word of the day, sticking to that into the future.

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  9. It is so varied from shop to shop! It is such a learning process for each individual person. What sells well for me might not sell well for you. I do have some things I will not buy anymore because I didn't sell any/much of it. Etsy=wall decor, pictures, casserole dishes (some exceptions), and ceramic mold type items. eBay= mugs.

    I do well with glassware on Etsy. I was just looking through my bins and realized that I don't have much left and need to start looking for more. There are lots of folks who are no longer going to sell glassware because of low/no sales.

    I firmly believe that almost anything can sell if you are willing to wait for the right person. I am willing to wait on some things, not so much on others.

    Rereading this I realize this isn't any help at all! LOL! :)

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    1. Nah, it's very helpful! You're right, all depends on what you as an individual seller are willing to wait on and for how long.

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    2. On the mug thing I'm packing up a set of mod mugs now I sold for $30, I've seen people sell individual ones for more on eBay. I think a lot of us find them hard to resist because we can buy them for so cheap and shipping/storage isn't too bad.

      Also, with some cool items that were harder sales it paid off t be patient, they eventually sold for the "higher" price I wanted. Easier to do with smaller items.

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  10. My experiences mirror yours. You have an excellent list there.

    In my brick-and-mortar shop as well as on eBay, what sells: vintage radios (particularly the more attractive, interesting looking bakelite ones, never wood consoles) even when they don't work - even when they are EMPTY. Vintage cameras, designer-marked vintage jewelry (surprisingly, even Avon), bakelite jewelry (or bakelite anything, really), art pottery, art glass, Pyrex, postcards, vintage photos (esp. tintypes/ambrotypes and CDVs) vintage quilts, vintage chenille, and skeleton keys sell like crazy.

    What doesn't sell well: planters, glassware, depression glass, utilitarian pottery, kitchenware especially aluminum, china or other dishware, wall art (except for paint-by-numbers), framed photos, most books, records, and vintage accessories (hats, purses, etc. - sometimes purses do well).

    This is a very general list. It would take forever for me to list everything! Also sometimes things inexplicably start selling like crazy or stop selling. For example I suddenly had people coming in and asking for books. So I stocked some and they started doing well. Or suddenly I'll have someone come and clean out my entire stock of 78 records. It's so weird. I've got a store full of gorgeous things and people pick the strangest items to actually buy. It's so random.

    Keep up the good work, Vanessa!

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    1. Vintage radio are so gorgeous, too bad I never see them here! Will keep an eye out for the beautiful bakelite ones. Planters sit for me locally but I've sold a lot of them for a lot of money via Etsy and eBay would probably do even better. Still yes, in general not a fast slow. Random is right! Thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes with your brick and mortar! I'm inspired to schedule more estate sales and distant hunting to find the best stuff and move away from glassware.

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  11. I just did a post about what sold well for us in 2013! Find it here.
    The list included danish modern flatware, cathrineholm and dansk enamelware, phone stands, rotary phones, and some other random things.
    The things that don't sell well for us: boring Pyrex (as opposed to more rare and interesting Pyrex, which sells well), fondue sets, mugs and glasses (except for silver band glasses--those are usually good), cheap ice buckets, any dishes or glasses that aren't a full or at least large enough set, and most globes (except for particularly cool or old ones).

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    1. Very good list of what sits, that all sits for me too. I sold one of my three fondue sets. Three ice buckets taking up lots of space. Boo! Thanks for sharing what's sold for you, I've noticed rotary phone do well and I keep an eye out for them but they're usually in shabby shape when I find them.

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    2. Great list Julia! I love your blog. Found it recently. I totally agree on the rotary phones and phone stands. I had both in my antique mall booth and they flew!

      Those Pyrex casseroles are beautiful! I see them and never pick them up because I thought they were so common. Will have to snatch them up now.

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    3. I need to research popular pyrex, I see it often here but usually avoid because it can be such a slow sale. Gonna keep an eye out for rotary phones and stands, nice sculptural pieces that are fun to photograph and display anyway.

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    4. In my Etsy shop I like having some Pyrex. Usually slow to sell, but I find it brings traffic to my shop so to me having a couple of pieces listed is a must have.

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    5. Thanks for the tip, will have to try that and scoop some up if I see good ones at a low price. I see lots of it around but tend to avoid, it's heavy, hard to store, easy to break (I'm a clutz) but hey, worth a try.

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  12. One more comment. Media can have a huge influence on what sells. For example, I keep track of what's featured in Country Living magazine. If they suddenly do a spread on, say, carnival glass, you can be sure I'll have a run on it. Period movies like Gatsby (20s), shows like Mad Men (50s-60s), Call the Midwife (40s-50s) and Downton Abbey (20s-30s) get people interested in items from that era.

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    1. Thanks for the awesome reminder. I've been listening to Etsy help videos and they also recommended you quickly login to Etsy and renew items like crazy if "etsy" is ever mentioned on TV ;) Unusual but funny/good tip.

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  13. I have never met a piece of vintage lingerie I couldn't sell. Prices range from $20.00 to $200.00. Lately I've found even new stuff does well especially gowns and robes in silk. Handkerchiefs, wedding style (White on white the lacier the better) lots of scalloped handkerchiefs. Madeira anything. I niche in Boho hippie style which is really a whole lot of nineties stuff. If you keep up with the new trends you can find the vintage that will correspond. Look at Free People right now its like Portlandia, the nineties are alive and well. Blue jeans died this year. People just decided to stop buying them. I have no idea why either. For the most part clothing.....if you put it up they will come. But you do learn the right brands to buy. THAT could take all day though.

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    1. Interesting on the vintage lingerie, this includes nightgowns/robes too or just bras and panties? These are awesome light things to store until they sell, too. I've noticed the 90s sells so well on eBay/themed Etsy shops.

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  14. I sell exclusively vintage and retro baby and children's clothing, toys, books, knick knacks, nursery items and decor. What sells?

    In my real life shop display at a local florist all sales are baby vintage clothing items from newborn to one year old, rompers, booties, shoes, bonnets, christening dresses.

    In my Etsy store I have had success with all my stock range, but it is still early days in the overall scheme of things so it'll be interesting to see what becomes the front runner in time.

    At markets it's clothing and vintage toys that sell.

    I try to only source and sell things I love and would consider buying myself or giving as a gift. I figure if I sell what I love it helps my store have focus and cohesion.

    Regarding selling items and sale techniques I read an article a while back that mentioned how The J. Petermann Company has such good sales through the way they disrobe their items. It's about the story you create and people are playing out in their mind when reading it, pulling at their desires and emotions and making them part with their money. I've been trying to adopt their technique in a way that is suitable to me and you know what it works. Check out the Petermann company online and see what they do.

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    1. I love the J. Peterman catalogs too! I study them as well and tried to incorporate story telling and scene description in my items when I was actively selling.

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    2. Gosh, about 6 months or so ago, I spent HOURS writing quirky little stories about my vintage table linens for my Etsy shop, and I don't think it made any difference at all! Very frustrating. So I've gone the other direction with a pretty standardized, but VERY complete, description in bullet-ed form: size, motif, problem areas, fabric, maker, etc.

      In vintage linens, it's slowed down a lot, and average printed tablecloths aren't going anywhere. Unused cloths with original paper tags always go well, and Wilendur/Wilendure will sell no matter what. I've seen a upswing in fine damask tablecloths and napkins... maybe for vintage-theme weddings or showers.

      In fabric, a year ago, vintage feedsack was crazy, with folks from Korea paying over $100 for a yard of fabric, but that seems to be over now, and it sells, but not for crazy prices. MCM fabric, especially atomic barkcloth, goes very quickly.

      I'm hit-or-miss on vintage baby clothes. I have a couple of mint-condition Christening outfits that are just sitting and sitting.

      I'm in Central Pennsylvania and a LOT of my stuff goes to the West Coast.

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    3. I'll have to check out their catalogs. So true, branding is all about the story you tell. I'm trying to make mine for concrete but I think my "wares for the modernist creative spirit" may nail it a bit.

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  15. I sell exclusively vintage and retro baby and children's clothing, toys, books, knick knacks, nursery items and decor. What sells?

    In my real life shop display at a local florist all sales are baby vintage clothing items from newborn to one year old, rompers, booties, shoes, bonnets, christening dresses.

    In my Etsy store I have had success with all my stock range, but it is still early days in the overall scheme of things so it'll be interesting to see what becomes the front runner in time.

    At markets it's clothing and vintage toys that sell.

    I try to only source and sell things I love and would consider buying myself or giving as a gift. I figure if I sell what I love it helps my store have focus and cohesion.

    Regarding selling items and sale techniques I read an article a while back that mentioned how The J. Petermann Company has such good sales through the way they disrobe their items. It's about the story you create and people are playing out in their mind when reading it, pulling at their desires and emotions and making them part with their money. I've been trying to adopt their technique in a way that is suitable to me and you know what it works. Check out the Petermann company online and see what they do.

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    1. Checking out the Peterman company, nice! I need to get into the higher price range ;)

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  16. The staging and descriptions may help sales for some people. I think on Etsy it matters more than eBay - there, people seem to just prefer a list of facts and a lone object on a black or white background. I'm a marketing copywriter, actually, in my other life, so you'd think this would help me with those descriptions. It does, but nobody seems to care when I play games with my descriptions. They just want to know what it is, age, dimensions, condition, and if the provenance matters or is available, that too. Of course I can make it all properly spelled and grammatically correct. :)

    Good displays are important in real-life, physical shops, though -- I can't say I'm all that good at designing them, or just don't want to be bothered. Mostly I just make sure it's all clean and well-lit, and most of my similar stuff is grouped together so they don't have to wander all over the store to compare cream-and-sugar sets. I've seen both kinds of antiques/vintage shops -- shops where the design was amazing but there wasn't much to actually buy (and you felt like you'd be ruining the vendor's painstakingly designed vignette if you did) and shops where it's all just stacked and piled and it takes forever to see it all, and you just know there's something great hidden at the bottom of the bin. Mine is somewhere in the middle, I think.

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    1. Definitely going to re-do everything in my Etsy shop with more research, better descriptors, photos that give better idea of scale, etc. I really do often rush through my listings so I don't procrastinate on listing things and so I can get to the other day's tasks.

      There's a place for pedantically well curated shops, ones in the middle, and messy ones. The middle ground seems good, keeps people interested and digging. This year my booth's getting a branded make-over, working on displays for prints and taking photos so people can see items in use and displaying that in the booth. Excited to really play with it and see how branded I can get it creatively and how the customers respond.

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  17. Thanks for this post. You've more than answered my question of a few days ago. :)

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  18. I'm loving this post and all the helpful comments!

    As for me, I'm still a newbie in the reselling business, so I haven't noticed any real trends quite yet.

    I have noticed that nothing sells locally unless it's super cheap. As in so cheap that I barely turn a profit. Apparently people around my antique mall just want a good deal, not a cool find.

    On Etsy though, I'm frequently surprised by what sells. I went through a time where I felt like I would never sell a mug (which is bad, as I can't stop buying them!), but they've started selling lately. Yay!

    I really need to work on photography and staging though. I have a heck of a time getting my photos to look good, so I've been relying on the dreaded freakishly white fotofuze background. Ugh. There's another yearly goal!

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    1. My antique mall makes it challenging to not want to mark things down to compete do, I fall into the trap, especially when I don't find the time to hunt and get really unique items and sales are slowing down. My mall has items so cheap it can seem hard to compete but I've noticed making sure to get in very unique fresh items helps you mark things up pretty universally. I can't wait to get to work re-doing my photo to to make my brand more cohesive and fix my manic scale issues ;) !

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  19. This was an awesome post. You're amazing!

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  20. I have fairly good success with mugs/ coffee cups. It is the mugs that are a but different or represent a place line a college or restaurant. Some starbucks mugs sell for a good amount and then there are some you can't give away.

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    1. I remember your posts where you sold Starbucks mugs for a lot of money, that was awesome! I need to move a lot of my slow moving merch like artwork/mugs/etc. to eBay, I bet it'll move faster there.

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  21. There's no telling. It's always changing, so I'm always adjusting. MCM, for sure, but good quality original art, vintage home decor, sterling flatware, sterling jewelry, high quality leather shoes, trendy clothing in good condition, vintage designer stuff (e.g. Hermes ties), vintage rare expensive perfume (and vintage rare weird perfume), things that get broken and need to be replaced, and on and on.

    Good post Van. A discussion that could surely continue.

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    1. Thanks for all the tips, I've thought of getting into sterling jewelry/flatware more, can be cheap to buy, easy to photograph store/fast sell. I'll keep challenging what I sell this year for faster/easier profit so I can focus on other projects while keeping money flow going strong.

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  22. It is so random. I'm from outside of D.C., it is a trendy area which drives the prices up at all the hunting grounds. I went to a good estate sale a found a lott of high quality luggage with original boxes! In the sky blues, bright orange, and bright red. Very cool! I have them priced so low with no movement. Vintage sports or good albums I can't keep! I can't find the stuff fast enough.

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    1. Those luggage pieces sound amazing, they'd sell like crazy here locally and likely on Etsy, too. Records never sell here, but then again I do keep the "good" ones to myself. ;)

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  23. In the antique mall I am in what sells is mad men silver band glassware, vintage instant polaroid cameras, manual typewriters, anything of cobalt blue glassware, tupperware, and retro pop culture items. I have also done well selling toys and not vintage mostly post 1980s and as long as they are in good/clean condition they will sell.

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    1. Sometimes I sell my mad man silver band glassware in the mall for what I want but often I move it to Etsy for a higher price. Vintage polaroids always sell pretty quickly on Etsy so I scoop them up whenever I see them and they work. Typewriters sell for good money but glassware, tupperware and a lot of pop culture items will sit, hit or miss on pop culture items. Always so random to figure out the local buying scene but I'm up the challenge! Excited to get hunting again with all the tips in this post in mind.

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  24. In my Etsy shop I am always surprised what does and doesn't sell quickly. Most things sell if I am patient enough. I have had my shop for 2.5 years. Just random thoughts on what sells...Stetson cowboy hats and unique or colorful women's vintage hats always sell. Polaroid cameras usually sell well, but even when they take time, they always bring traffic to my shop. For the first year and a half vintage luggage or train cases as well as globes sold very quickly. They have slowed way down now. Coca Cola wood crates sell very quickly for me. 70s gold, magazine racks are consistent sellers. Industrial desk lamps also sell well. Fun glass sets sell quite well, but any other type of glassware doesn't sell.

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    1. There's definitely virtue in patience with Etsy, I was pleased to stick to my guns with prices and still get what I wanted with some items. I've noticed that camera's get eyes on my shop too, need to try and keep those in stock. One of my polaroid camera photos was treasured by a magazine. Thanks for the honest report on what sells. I have some industrial lamps that are just sitting, boo. I think my photo re-shoots will help move things a little better though.

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    2. Wow, congrats on being treasured for a magazine. Those little fuzzies can just make a person's day.

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  25. Another tip - if you have multiple similar items and they're not moving, take the nicest one and price it higher, or obtain a more expensive item and price it accordingly. Shoppers will see the expensive item's tag and say "whoa!" and then grab the lesser ones feeling like they're getting a deal. This works in person and also on eBay if I list similar things at the same time.

    It's also interesting to note that at times my sales have picked up when I priced things higher. My shop is in a fairly affluent area so bargains are generally not my niche. My prices are very reasonable and well-researched, though. I want things to sell so I can get more, but I don't want to give it away either. Quick turnover is important because changing inventory gets you repeat customers. Another way to get repeat customers is to always have the same kinds of items so you're their go-to for whatever they like to collect.

    But if you have a physical space, keep in mind you don't have to turn over / price to sell everything. If you have a few really amazing pieces, price them crazy high and hang onto them. You might have them for years, but eventually someone will pay that crazy price and in the meantime it gets your shop/stall remembered -- oh, that's the store with the [item]. We do that with a few things here - an awesome stained glass piece, a lovely brass blade fan, an interesting (huge) metal advertising sign. If people complain I just smile and say, "I guess we like it more than you do." :)

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    1. I've done that high-low tip before, need to get back to doing it, I often forget. It's nice to have a variety of prices ranges for different buyers and like you said, bring attention to your "smalls" as an option. It's worked on me for supporting artists I like!

      I'm going back to my raised prices, I've read a lot of the psychology of that and you establish value with your prices you can have a really good item and not have it sell at the lower price because it makes the item seem "cheap" even if it's a quality piece.

      Thanks for the great reminders, I need to put the "expensive" statement pieces in my booth too. I have seen people come back to comment about the "naughty art" and bring friends back to see it. Keeps your space memorable!

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  26. Son of a bitch...I'm going to do it. I'm marking down the crap that isn't moving tonight. Ugh...this is going to hurt.

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    1. Doesn't hurt to try selling the items on eBay or in another venue first? That's what I'm going to do, I'm tired of clearances, they hurt too much!

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  27. I don't buy to resell. I've got too much crap to get rid of first from my days as a flea market seller, so when something doesn't sell, or if I have to mark things down it's not so bad -It sucks because who doesn't wanna make money? but eh, it won't kill me.

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    1. When I was working full time not selling items for the best profit wasn't a concern and I might have pigeon-holed myself into a lower price range because of those days. Now it's my full time living so it's important to maximize profit to move up in life. Nothing wrong with it as a hobby, though.

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  28. It's definitly very random. Stuff I sold were mostly items I thought "Hmmm let's give a try but..." I'm pretty new selling in etsy so cannot say what sells best. Wanna thank you Van for this interesting discussion. Next one could be "Which countries we sell more" :) USA is number one for sure!

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    1. USA seems to be the biggest vintage buyer for sure followed by Canada and Australia. A few orders to the UK, France, and an odd couple to Japan.

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  29. Van, I don't know if you know about this tool called Terapeak, that a lot of eBay sellers use to research what the selling history is for any item on eBay. The data goes back to at least one year's time, and you can find the sell-through rate, the average selling price, the selling format (fixed price vs auction), etc, including specific listings. When you sign up for this service (cost is about $24.99 a month), they have an app you can use when you're out shopping. You can look brand names and items up and see how well they sell on eBay, so that you can make a better, more informed buying decision. They have a free trial period. You can learn more about it here: www.terapeak.com.

    As for what sells, some of the most successful eBay sellers I know specialize in: high end designer fashion, Disney items, yarn, fine jewelry, unsual antiques, dinnerware, needlework kits, etc. What sells runs the gamut. To be honest, I have yet to find my true niche - a niche that I can reliably sell consistently - so I sell all kinds of stuff. For awhile, needlework kits were selling well for me. Then jewelry sold pretty well. Now it's stuffed animals. Over the holidays, not surprisingly, ornaments sell really well. One of my ongoing goals is to consistently bring in items that sell and sell for a good price.

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  30. I think a Terapeak rep e-mailed me before for a write-up. I like the idea but since I focus on vintage things I personally enjoy and my own products/art to sell and not random stuff I find (nothing wrong with that, I'd be richer for it if I did!) it didn't seem like the right thing for me. I may have to look into it again though since I want to focus on profit more this year. Thanks for all the detailed tips.

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  31. I am so glad I stumbled upon your website! I have been here all morning reading and learning from all the replies. I am a new seller in an antique mall in the upper midwest area. The mall I am in is packed with glass. So your comments about stop buy glassware hits home. We do sell cameras, signs (RxR last night), very random categories and it is hard to plan. We sell less than $500 on a weekend in a shop of 45 dealers. Seems really low. I am also on ebay, pinterest, twitter and I have a website www.RefreshedForYou.com. I have a lot to learn about marketing but sites like your have me thinking in new light. Keep the blog going, I have my "mug" and the coffee is hot I am here to stay!!

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    1. Glad it helps! :D If you're anywhere near $500 for the weekend that's not damn bad at all, I'd applaud you for that! Do keep reading, more to come.

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