Revealing what I know about selling and decorating with vintage goods and offering vintage items for sale.
Hi! I'm Wanda, the owner of Just Vintage and this is my blog where I talk about buying, selling, and decorating with all things vintage. I want to help you learn what to buy for resale and maybe give you inspiration in decorating, even if it's what NOT to do.
How often do we wonder just when our vintage item was made? If you’re a reseller, especially if you have an Etsy shop, eBay too, these days, it pays to know an approximate age. So, I worked up a little chart that gives approximate time frames. I mean, I’m constantly having to double check, so I needed it, too. This does not include all possible countries of origin, but has the primary ones that imported to the United States in the last 100 years or so.
It’s not meant to be definitive and is not all inclusive. There’s some give and take and overlapping years, but this is what I’ve learned from my research and I wanted to share it with you. I did not delve into mid century modern items and mid century styles, many from Denmark, nor did I get into the Italian Florentine and other items from Italy. There are, of course, a myriad of countries that we could drill down to. I’ll say again that this is just a basic guide to the more common items we see most often. Click on the photo below for a free PDF printable.
In a nutshell:
Occupied Japan: 1945-1952
Hong Kong: 1950s-early 1970s
Korea and Taiwan: 1970s
Taiwan, East European countries and some made in China: 1980s
China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia: 1990S-Present
Let’s talk about glass a bit. Glass has never been my superpower, but I’m trying to learn. Maybe you are, too. I’ll wager you know more than I do, though. But in case you’re researching something that looks like this, here’s what I’ve learned.
I recently found this glass…. thing. I had absolutely no idea what it was or who made it. Research – and asking questions in glass groups – taught me several things:
It’s a candle holder …. vase thingy. Ha! How’s that? I think I added the vase part.
It’s made by Viking
It’s swung glass and those things sticking up are called fingers
The color is called “smoke”
It was probably made in the 1960s
I’m not keeping this one, I don’t think. Depends on how long it hangs around, I suppose. But it’s currently for sale here in the blog shop as well as my Etsy shop.
Spring is here! And with that, most of the US is gearing up for yard sale season. Most warmer climates never stopped. Let’s cover some do’s and don’ts to help you have a successful yard sale.
Let me preface this post by saying I’ve been going to yard/garage/estate sales since 1974. I’d even go as far as to say I’ve probably gone an average of 40 weekends out of every one of those years. I say I’ve seen a thing or two because….. ahem…. I have seen a thing or two – to quote, sort of, the recent insurance commercials. I feel I’m speaking for yard sale shoppers everywhere when I talk about the things that annoy us, things that will turn us off from your sale and things that make us try really hard to find something to buy.
DO call it what it is, or at least close. If you’re doing some closet clean-out or decluttering, you can call it “yard sale” or “garage sale” or “carport sale”, whatever floats yer boat as long as it’s one of those or something similar. I’d avoid “hoarder sale” unless it truly looks like a hoarder TV show. That’s really extreme (And gets the potential shoppers’ adrenaline going and once that’s let down, they become disgruntled). I’ve seen very few “yard sales” that come close. If you’re moving, call it a moving sale. It’s all in the basement? “Basement sale” works fine and actually helps people know to walk around to the basement.
DON’T call it an estate sale unless it’s what’s left after someone has passed away and family has taken what they want. I once went to an “estate sale” that had mostly toys and clothes their child had outgrown. Uh…. no. Did your child die? I hope not!
DO advertise. Facebook Marketplace is frustrating, but absolutely advertise it there and be sure that you do not choose that you’ll ship – unless you will, of course. But people don’t want to have to see yard sales in Timbuktu before their own community, then remember they have to go back up and filter out those. If possible, advertise a day or two before the actual sale.
Perhaps your area has a community classifieds print “magazine” or paper where you can advertise for free. Just do your research, ask around if you don’t already know, and find out where everybody advertises their sale. Put as many details as possible. Date – including days, address, TIME(!) and maybe some of the things you have. If on Facebook, show pictures if you can.
DON’T advertise after your sale has started. Well, I don’t mean, don’t – it’s better than nothing – but if that’s the only time you’ve advertised, you might not get the crowd you’d hoped for. We’re all out shopping already and probably won’t even see the ad until it’s too late.
DO make LARGE signs. With readable addresses. And arrows! Arrows might be the most important. Good, readable signs are a must! Using a full size poster board for every sign is a plus. We’d love you for that! Lots of signs spaced every half mile to mile apart are really good if the first sign is more than a mile or three from the sale – unless, of course, it’s say, downtown or some other busy place just letting people know you’re having a sale at your address. …….Bonus Do – Use big, fat, black markers. White poster board is great. Bright pink or green work well to grab attention, but be consistent so we know we’re following the same sale signs.
DON’T use a sheet of paper with the address crammed on it. Almost every weekend, I see page size signs with tiny chicken scratch for the address, posted at a busy intersection. And every weekend, I swear I’m going to have to start bringing binoculars. There’s one on the road you turn on to go to our neighborhood along with several other neighborhoods. I’ve ridden by it several times and still don’t know where that yard sale was. Which brings us to………..
DO take your signs down after your sale is over. ALL your signs. There are few things more annoying to a yard saler than following a sign to a sale that doesn’t exist. Did they decide not to have it? That sign was tiny – was there a time on it? Did I ride past the sale and not see it? Should I keep looking? Was it last week and I didn’t know about it?
DO expect and be ready for early birds. Real early. Even if your ad says “no early birds.” Honestly, the only way you can prevent them is if you have a closed garage and say in your ads and signs that the time is firm.
DON’T wait until the stated start time (or 10 minutes before) to begin putting your items out. People will be there and will either be digging through your boxes, making a mess, or they’ll leave and probably not come back, even though they say they will. Yes, even if you start putting things out an hour early, they will still be there in your way. If possible, setting things out the night before and covering the tables with sheets is a good idea. Just be out and ready well before the stated start time.
DO try to price as much as you can. It’s been a trend the last few years to just put stuff out with absolutely no prices. I remember one lady who had two tables with some stuff on them saying something like it was just too much trouble to price “all this stuff.” Really? You have 40 items. How hard was that? Then maybe it’s too much trouble for me to ask. Now, I do not speak for everybody when I say this, but some of us don’t like to have to ask for prices unless there are at least a few things priced and we can see that those prices are reasonable, yard sale prices. Remember the old saying that if you have to ask the price you probably can’t afford it? For me, in yard sale terms, it would say that if I have to ask the price, then it’s probably more than I want to pay. If I ask and it is more than I want to pay, then there’s that awkward moment where I have to hem and haw and say thanks, I’ll pass. Or something. I’ve never found a comfortable, polite response to that.
DON’T print out pages from eBay with an item like yours and how much someone wants for it or that it sold for. Really. That’s rather offensive. You took the time to look it up on eBay? Then take the time to sell it there. Especially if you’re wanting 3/4 of that price.
DON’T Don’t say “make me an offer” unless you’re prepared to be insulted. You might not admit it or even realize it, but you have an amount in mind and you’re, maybe subconsciously, hoping the potential buyer will offer more than that. Okay, okay… maybe you really have no idea how much to ask, but much of the time, the amount I offer is waaayyyy less than what the seller will take. If I even make that offer. Often I’ll just walk away and tell them to let me know when they’re ready to name a price.
DO price things to sell. Meaning — really, really cheap. It sells for $150 new in the store? And you want $100 for your used widget? Oh, you never used it, but it has sat in your musty basement for 3 years? You’ll probably pack it up at the end of the day. Even $75 is pushing it. It sells for $24 new in the store? Then frankly, I don’t want to pay more than a dollar. I might but I sure don’t want to. A yard sale is not the place to try to get higher prices. You might try Marketplace or get a booth in an antique mall/flea market, or sell it yourself on eBay, but don’t expect your yard sale shoppers to shell out that much money unless that one person has been looking for that one particular item and can’t find it anywhere else and just happened to come to your yard sale that day. And the chances of that happening are slim.
DON’T be afraid to price things at a quarter. You don’t want to have to handle change? Then I’m not going to buy your dollar item that should have been a dime. Because……. see the next DO……
DO remember that your shoppers are either resellers or someone looking for a really good bargain. Well, okay. Everybody is looking for a really good bargain whether they’re going to resell your item or need the low, low prices because of life circumstances or just because they like to buy cheaply. Yard sale people are a whole subculture. You have people from all walks of life. Wealthy to barely getting by. Smartly dressed women who like to buy furniture to paint and resell, artists who use castoffs in their collage art, people trying to clothe their families and can’t afford even thrift store prices, people on a budget trying to furnish their home, people who just enjoy the treasure hunt, college students to senior citizens.
DON’T be offended if you find out someone is going to resell your item. Remember, you could have done the same. They either do this for a living or maybe they supplement their income with what they sell. Perhaps they really need that supplementation just to get by in life. It’s doggone hard work, too! There are times when I think it’d be easier to have occasional yard sales and sell for pennies on the dollar, rather than all the work I have to do to sell online and in the booth. I had an aunt who bought from yard sales then doubled the price at her own sales. She did quite well, too. Had a good eye. (I believe that’s her on the right with her back turned to us in the picture below.)
DO be ready to haggle. Although, if you price it cheaply enough, there won’t be much of that. I personally don’t like to haggle. Maybe if it’s a case where I had to ask the price I’ll offer less, but I’d rather pay what’s on the sticker and move on. Or pass and move on. Other people think of haggling as an art. They love it. So you can expect some of it.
DON’T Please don’t say, “I’d rather throw it away than take that little for it.” Really? You’d rather take nothing over something and have someone haul it out of your sight? And you don’t have to deal with it anymore? I remember an auctioneer getting all red in the face and throwing down and breaking a Roseville vase because the bidding wasn’t going where he thought it should. What did that accomplish?
DO Try to have your things on a table. I realize that’s not always possible and I personally don’t have a problem with things on the ground, but I remember at a sale once, another shopper saying she was not going to bend down to the ground to shop. And she left the sale. It’s physically difficult or even impossible for some people to reach to the ground. Even things sitting on tall-ish, overturned boxes are better than on the ground. My mother once stepped into a blanket full of glassware, in spite of my father saying, “Don’t do it, Mildred!” and ended up breaking several things because she didn’t pick her feet up high enough.
DO make it clear what’s for sale and what isn’t. If it’s in your garage, rope off the things not for sale or put sheets over those areas. If it’s in your yard near some of your yard ornaments or planters, somehow make it clear those things are not for sale. Those are the things that people will invariably want. Save yourself the trouble of having to say, “I could have sold that 50 times today.”
DO keep an eye on your pets. I absolutely love to see a sweet dog run up to me for some petting, but I might get a little uneasy if she runs up snarling and growling. For many of us, getting to pet your dogs and cats is a treat, but some people are very afraid. I had a yard sale once and my sweet cat was in my lap. A lady, when she was coming up to pay, saw him, started backing up, and said, “Get ‘that animal’ away from me!” She was terrified. Just remember that not everyone is an animal lover.
DO always be courteous and friendly. Eye contact is good at least once. When someone is walking up, simply say “Hi, how are ya?” There’s no need to ask if they’re looking for anything in particular. If they are, they’ll ask. And honestly, for me at least, it’s a little awkward, especially if nothing they have out is even remotely my taste. Small talk is usually fine, but take a cue from the shopper. Some people just don’t do small talk.
DON’T stare or hover. That makes people so uncomfortable. I want to run away when people do that. Also, don’t try to sell something. If they want it, they’ll buy it.
DO let us know if you’re negotiable on prices. We like to hear, “Ignore the prices. I’ll take a lot less than that.” Then be true to your word.
As far as actual display, DO put like items together, but that’s not entirely necessary. Just don’t put toys in the middle of the kitchenware. You know, that kind of thing.
These are the best tips that I can think of at the moment. I hope it helps you have the most successful yard sale in history! Please feel free to add more tips in the comments!
February was great in my booth and fairly decent on Etsy and eBay. I didn’t get any pictures of booth items, so those sales won’t be shared.
I’ve only, in the past year, started putting things on eBay again. I pretty much abandoned it years ago in favor of Etsy, but I’m easing back into selling there as well again. I think I had got up to about 45-50 items or thereabouts on eBay, so selling 10 was pretty good, I guess. I was determined to get up to 200 listings on Etsy in February. In the 11 years I’ve been selling there, I think I’ve reached that amount once. Guess I’m not dedicated enough. So, I almost made it! Got to 198, then had a flurry of sales while I was busy with life and haven’t had a chance to list more and at this point, I’m back down to 182 items.
If you’ve read the blog much, you know I’m not a prolific seller. I’m soooo not full time. Still, it’s more than a hobby for me. I sell to supplement our income. But many hobbyists are speeding past me, leaving me in the dust. Anyway, I’m saying that to point out that I’m not here trying to show you how to make a living reselling and certainly not to brag! I’ve got nothing to brag about! My hope is that you might see something I’ve sold that you never thought to buy for resell or that you’ll see something I’ve sold for pennies and can make note not to bother with that. Anything I can do that might help you reach your reselling goals is my hope.
This post will be kinda long and I apologize for that. I thought about doing separate posts for eBay and Etsy sales, but ultimately decided to combine them because there really aren’t that many. So here goes. Let’s start with eBay, shall we? ( I believe buyer paid shipping on all these.)
I took these patches off a couple of my husband’s decaying caps several years ago and just this year put them for sale. They sold to the same buyer.
Cost: Free to me Total sale: $18.98 Net after fees: $14.58
I got this 2013 Ancestry DNA kit at Goodwill. $5.99 plus tax. That tax just gripes my behind. Don’t get me started. Genealogy being one of my hobbies, I debated on getting my husband or granddaughter to spit in the vial – I’ve already done mine – but ultimately decided to sell it.
Cost: $6.53 Total Sale: $33.99 Net After Fees and Cost: $22.15
Do you watch Yvon Thrifty Rich – on YouTube? I learned about John Perry sculptures from her, so when I saw this one at an estate sale, I grabbed it. And only now did I see the title was messed up! Egads!
Cost: 8.00 Total Sale: 31.00 Net After Fees and Cost: $17.10
This Vintage Champion Spark Plug bag belonged to my mother who always worked as bookkeeper in an auto parts store. I originally priced it as $47.99 but after going back and forth with offers, settled on $35.00
Cost: Free to me Total Sale: $35.00 Net After Fees: $28.43
These are a DON’T bother. They were brand new and, since they were Victoria’s Secret and only a dollar, I thought I’d give them a shot. But, what you can’t see in this picture is that they have “Think Pink” written on the outside of one arm. It was a little bit of profit and a little is better than none, so I won’t complain. And although I said don’t bother with these, I’d probably do it again. Sigh. (Also, the title is messed up again! I’ll have to remember not to use punctuation.
Cost: $1.00 Total Sale: 9.99 Net After Cost and Fees: $6.59
Oh, wow! This is the first Furby I’ve ever found in the wild. No, that’s not true. I found – and left there – a grody one in an outbuilding once. It was really scary. And dirty. Got this one at Goodwill.
Cost: $3.26 Total Sale: $24.99 Fees: $4.92 Net After Cost and Fees: $16.82
This was from my personal collection. I’m guessing I paid 25¢ years ago.
Cost: .25 Total Sale: 29.99 Fees: 5.07 Net After Cost and Fees: $24.67
This Brighton bracelet had belonged, I believe, to my step mother. I’m saying it was free to me, but we probably gave it to her for Christmas, so not technically free.
Cost: Free to me Total Sale: $14.99 Fees: $3.04 Net After Fees: $11.95
Ahhhh,…. Now this is more like it. My kind of profit. I’ve had 3 1980s Vogue counter catalogs for years and years and years, shuffling them around because, who is going to pay the shipping for something as big and heavy as that? Well, I’ve sold 2 of them now. I don’t remember how much I paid for this, but I’d bet it was a dollar.
Cost: $1.00 Total Sale: $47.99 Fees: $8.49 Net After Cost and Fees: $38.50
Last and least – hehe – this antique newspaper insert from my death pile. I’ll guess it cost 25¢ but really, I’ve had it so long, I have no idea. It wasn’t on my inventory list, either.
Cost: .25 Total Sale: $6.99 Fees: $2.30 Net After Cost and Fees: $4.44
That’s all for eBay. Are you still with me? Let’s do Etsy.
A note about the Etsy links here. Did you know you can use a Chrome extension that shows what an item sold for on Etsy? It’s called “Etsy Sold!” Of course, you have to find the sold item first and that’s not easy with Etsy, but if you go to a seller’s main page, you’ll see the number of sales they’ve had in the upper left corner under the shop name. Hover over that number and if it shows as a link, you can click and see a grid of everything they’ve sold and with the extension, how much it sold for is in red! Isn’t that cool? Then, if you want to see more about the item, you can click on the link. That’s what you’ll see here. The pictures from the grid. But I’ll also place a link to the listing if you click on the picture. That link, my link, will be an affiliate link. Of course, you can’t buy the sold item, but unless you have cookies or something disabled, if you buy anything from anyone on Etsy within a day or so, I’ll get a few pennies from that sale. It costs you nothing, nor does it cost the seller anything. And neither of us know you used that link. But those few cents add up in the long run and help me out because these posts take a loooonnnnng time to do! I would be ever so grateful.
Brass easels are a big seller on Etsy. I sold two of these, identical, for $17.00 each.
Cost: $1.00 (for two) Total Sale: $34.00 (for two) Fees: $4.47 (for two) Net After Cost and Fees: $28.63
Another somewhat surprising item is vintage, wicker, paper plate holders. My friend Florence, whose Etsy shop is Vintage Southern Picks, has taught me that the older ones have a larger braid around the edges. These were my first attempt at selling them. They were stained so badly, too! I was scared the buyer wouldn’t have seen the pictures and emailed her first. She had and understood and was fine with them. Whew!
Mid century modern, Danish modern, Scandanavian, etc. are among my favorite things to sell. I found this Dansk cheese cutting board with built in knife (It slides in to form the handle) at ReStore for $2.00. It wasn’t a huge sale, but I’ll sure take it.
This was a fun sale, both the buying and the selling. These vintage cocktail napkins came from a family run estate sale and they priced everything to get it gone. I bought so much there! And no, I had no idea about selling prices as I was buying.
Okay. So I found a bunch of these at the antique mall where I have a booth. I walked past them at first, then backstepped. They are so vintage 60s! So retro! So cool! I’m just going to picture a couple of examples. Most sold to one buyer and one sold to another buyer.
Five Vintage Lucite Switchplates Cost: $7.71 Total Sale: $95.00 Free shipping was offered in the sale of four together, but I’m not going to try to figure that out. Fees: $8.87 (I think. It was pretty convoluted.) Net After Cost and Fees: $78.42
I started going through all the hankies that were in my death pile. Took most to the booth where I sold them for $3.50 each. This one was rather special and I knew no one would pay more than $3.50 at the booth, so I put it on Etsy.