Revealing what I know about selling and decorating with vintage goods and offering vintage items for sale.
Here, under the “Learn” umbrella, I share the knowledge I’ve gained through the years and things I’m still learning, because there’s always something more to learn, about finding and selling vintage goods. I share items that sold each month, things I buy to sell, pictures of the booth, online selling tips and anything else I find that will help you succeed in your vintage reselling journey, whatever your goals in that journey are.
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.
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.
Does it seem that people are not reading your item descriptions on eBay and/or Etsy? Are they asking questions that are clearly answered in the description if they just “bothered” to look? I see this complaint all the time and I’ve had it happen to me as well. And you know what? It might not be entirely their fault! Especially with Etsy and especially on mobile devices.
I can’t speak much about eBay, since I do very little selling there, but I can speak a lot about Etsy! They, as of this writing, oddly enough, make it, ummm, let’s just say, not very intuitive to find the actual description on mobile devices. Here’s a screenshot of how some books I currently have for sale appear on my phone:
………………..Oh, and before you say anything, I learned long ago, that no matter how easy it is to ship outside the US, something will happen ~for ME~ that either costs me money ($50 one time!!) or there’s a problem that costs me a whole day trying to sort out. That’s why I sell to the US only. It’s not them, it’s me. I might use the global shipping thing, and will usually ship outside the US if asked, but I try to keep my life simple. Now back to the problem at hand.………………..
So, okay. That “Item Overview” is not helpful at all. And the “Item Details”, (I drew the red box around it.) that you have to click a down arrow to see, first, should it be named Item Description instead of Details? And second, maybe we shouldn’t have to click on an arrow to read it? Here’s another:
There’s more information in the “Overview” – and those are pretty much the only choices we have to fill out except for things like “Holiday” and other unnecessary details – but thinking like a buyer here, “Hey, what’s that dark area in the middle of the wood that I can see in the picture? Where do I find out about that?” It just seems to me that if they’re going to show all the “Overview” stuff, maybe there should be a place for more of the important details and the condition. eBay at least has the condition where it can be seen. Sort of. (Not that I like the way eBay does things either, but at least “condition” is there amid the myriad of other things we might not care about.) And then there’s the whole, “Why should I buy this item” that we can talk about in the description….
Note that on the computer, the description on Etsy is actually called “Description” and they at least show about 5 lines before it is grayed out and you have to click to “learn more.” So it’s pretty important to state what could be a deal-breaker right upfront. Not an ideal selling tactic.
So, what can we do? We’re all busy people. We get in a hurry, see something we like and click on that “Buy” button, get the item and wonder why those vintage shoes don’t fit when they were my size or, “I thought it was larger than that” or “Hey! There is only one lid here!” (I once sold 2 bowls with one lid. The title stated it, the first line of the description stated it and all the pictures clearly showed it. But she somehow missed that pertinent information.) But again, we’re human. We get in a hurry. So, we can blame the buyers for not reading or we can blame the selling venues for not making it easy to see, we can complain on social media and complain to the venues, or we can do whatever we can to help the buyer see all they need to see.
Here’s my solution. I’ve only just now started doing this and who knows if I’m still doing it this time next year? And of course, there are quite a few similar solutions other people use. But mine, at the moment, is to make a graphic of the description, either in bullet point or even the whole description, but I believe the bullet point is probably better, and put it as the last picture. Similar to this:
In that particular listing, I ran out of picture spaces and combined the photo of the imperfection with the other condition notes.
Now, of course, not everybody will scroll through all the pictures, and not everyone will bother to read the graphic but in that case, I simply do not know of anything else to do.
What about when a vintage item has a ding/flaw/chip/nick/discoloration/whatever imperfection that vintage things tend to have? I’ve heard that some people use the “Personalization” area in Etsy to ask the buyer to say that they saw there was an imperfection. I tried that once and it confused the buyer. She didn’t want it personalized. Ha! I’ve also tried messaging and emailing the buyer prior to shipping. The last time I did that, she did not see either the message or the email. She was surprised when she got her item and must have gone in to message me, saw that I tried to reach out to her and decided not to complain but to apologize and say it was okay. However, that has saved me more than once when the buyer, in fact, did not see that there was some damage and wanted a more perfect item. It’s more work and aggravation for us sellers and really should be avoided by the selling venue doing a better job, but the venues don’t seem to see there’s a problem. So we do what we can. (Sometimes, it seems like Etsy doesn’t want vintage sellers, but that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms I won’t open here or I’d be writing for days! And that’s really not true. I don’t think. Of course they want us and our money. I think they just don’t understand vintage.)
Tell me in the comments what you do to try to prevent this from happening.
(You know who does a pretty good job of this? WooCommerce. It looks similar to most of the big online stores we visit. It’s free and I use it on this site. But dang, it’s a lot of work to try to sell on your own website! And I’ll admit to not adding things very often. I should do a better job of the blog all the way around.)