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Taming the Chaos – Organizing Online Store Inventory

Organizing Online Store Inventory

Organizing Online Store Inventory

It’s that time of year again. We want to get organized. We love to start the year off with a clean slate, don’t we? I thought I’d do a post on Taming the Chaos that is online inventory. This room is my warehouse/shipping/photography room. 

Whether you sell on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, your own web site, or other venue, we all have the same problem. Where do we keep all that stuff?! I’m fortunate to have a large, (mostly) dedicated room just for this. It wasn’t always so. This area started off life as a back extension of our carport. I always thought it should be taken in for just this purpose, but that didn’t happen. Then one day, Ricky decided he needed it for his toy train hobby. So, he built the room. He never played in there and he’s sold most of his trains so now, the room is finally fulfilling its destiny. Other options, if you don’t have an area under the roof to wall in, would be to rent a storage unit or erect a storage building on your property. 

Warning:  There are no pretty pictures in this post. It’s an ugly, but fairly functional, room. It can use some a lot of improvement, but this is what it is at the moment. When it gets bad, it gets really, really bad.

This is what happened with the holidays. I did the toss and run. Or dump and run. No, dump and run sounds poopy. Drop and run. Yeah. Drop. These clothes out in the hallway waiting to be ironed? They can’t be visible during the holidays! Dump Drop. That box of stuff? The Christmas tree needs to go there!. Toss. You get the picture. The only things that keep it from being eligible for an episode of Hoarders is there were no fast food wrappers, no dead cats and there actually was a path.

Junky Inventory Room

Eek! The curtain backdrop even fell down! This mess was driving us nuts. Oh, and to make matters worse, we had a mini flood in there. Thank goodness, everything was in plastic tubs or off the floor.

After two days work, this is about as good as it’s gonna get for now:

Organizing Online Store Inventory

The long table on the left, the one that was piled with clothes, is the packing table. 
I was told the tool chests have to stay. Boo hiss.

Organizing Online Store Inventory

Items waiting for their photo shoot. Except the stools. The little wooden one was my grandfather’s and I’m a shorty and use both it and the red stool. And any other stool or ladder you see in the pictures.

Organizing Online Store Inventory

Clothes awaiting their photo shoot.

Organizing Online Store Inventory

And where the photo shoots happen. Hmmm…. I hadn’t thought of this before, but seeing the dress form in front of the railroad signs gives me the idea to maybe try using them in the clothing backdrop…..

I prefer natural light photos, but lighting kits are more convenient. The one I have is similar to this one on Amazon. The one I want is this one. No major expense or anything. Just haven’t done it.

And here’s how I store the inventory waiting for a buyer:

Organizing Online Store Inventory


Not very pretty, huh? But it works. Would work better with shelves. That’s on the list. Each box is numbered. I keep a Google Docs spreadsheet with a list of items in each box. When something comes out, it gets deleted from the sheet. As a box gets room, something new is added.

Organizing Online Store Inventory

I’m rather excited to get back to work now. Gots me a clean room to work in. So refreshing! But don’t ask me to show it to you two months from now. It shouldn’t look like the before pictures, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be quite this neat. 

We do have plans for a total redo, though. We need shelves. Functional shelves. Tear out the ones that are there and put in customized shelves. We also have a large, roll top desk that we love and want to keep, but that is too big for any room in our house. I’d like to work it into this area, keep a computer in there and get a label printer so that there’s not a lot of back and forth walking to the room with the computer and printer.

5 thoughts on “Taming the Chaos – Organizing Online Store Inventory

  1. Loved this…I feel normal : ) you are one step ahead of me…my Etsy Room looks like your “before” pictures, still. It is refreshing to know I’m normal and not a hoarder. No food wrappers or dead cats…and a “small” walking path : ) It’s on my to do list, as soon as I get back from this next Estate Sale.

  2. I love the idea of the manequin and railroad shots in your photos

  3. Magnificent job Wanda! I do have a metal rack for my tubs and it is so much easier than moving tubs, I’m sure you will love your shelves!

  4. It looks great Wanda. I have Etsy inventory spread out over 3 different rooms and an extra garage. I really need to focus and move it all into one room. It makes me crazy looking for a sold item. You have inspired me!! No sales or auctions for me until spring!

  5. Thank you Wanda, so much for sharing this “realness” about keeping all the stuff (“inventory”) organized. Like one of the commenters said, “I’m normal”!

    Over the past 11 years from when I began selling vintage clothing & collectibles through garage sales, apartment sales, flea markets, pop-up shops and in shared stalls, I’ve also struggled with every situation you and the commenters have mentioned (‘drop & run’, “lost” items, stuff in multiple rooms, etc.). About 6 years ago, I even so-called “got organized” by renting two storage units for several years-one for the clothing and one for everything else. Everything was packed in so tight it was a struggle to get items out. I didn’t act Ii very sell much. Yikes!

    Now, in 2022, I’ve finally, finally, finally rented an actual (small, 312sf) office in a building of other small businesses. Happily, it came with a wall of built-in shelving too! All non-clothing, shoes or handbag inventory except the books, jewelry and jewelry supplies, can be stored on those shelves. The books 1000-1200) & jewelry/jewelry supplies(unknown amount!) are still at home but manageable. Most importantly, everything can be seen!
    I’ve added 4 double rod rolling garment racks, 2 single rods and 3 portable closets, 2 shoe racks, 2 handbag racks,a packing table packing materials and “extra” clothing go underneath), a small desk-chair set, and two dress forms (one is plus-size). It’s still a bit overwhelming and packed full, but there is a path and two windows. I have ‘restructured’ my biz as an online-only venture and will be re-launching it on Etsy, eBay, Facebook PoshMark and a few specific item sites. It’s such a relief to be getting truly organized. I have about 2000 clothing items and about 200 non-clothing.

    Choosing a workable, simple inventory listing system has been a challenge. Finally, I’ve found just listed clothing by item type (tops, pants, dresses, flats, boots, sandals, tote bags, wallets, shoulder bags, etc. and by size, then maybe by color. Your tips/writings are a great help.

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