Monday, February 28, 2011

I've mentioned before that I've got a lot more stuff in my backstock than I should  Like the book says, "You can't sell it, if it's not on your floor."  How true. How true.  Plus there's the whole "where do I put this shit?" problem.  We've been dodging my tubs for weeks now.  I've been getting them whittled down and over to the booth, but when you have over a dozen and you take them in one or two at a time, it takes a while to get them all gone.

So where does the backlog come from?  Well, for one thing, when you buy a couple of items here and a couple of items there and a couple of items somewhere else, it adds up a lot more quickly than you realize.  So, when that faboo bulk deal comes along, and you pick it up, you realize you've got no place to put it.  When I make a super-large buy, I do try to get it to the booth ASAP, but it's not always possible.  Larger items tend to go in soon after they're purchased, as well.  That helps save on space, but also leaves me with tubs of smalls, and you can only have so many smalls in your space before they start overwhelming your customers and slowing sales.  I do sell a lot of smalls, for sure, but there is a limit to how many of them I can put in my booth.

The other factor that comes into play is the winter hiatus.  You have to be prepared and ready to stock when the weather is cold and there are no sales to go to.  Of course, you can hit other vendors, flea markets, and the thrifts during those months (and I do), but the prices are higher there, so you get less for your dollar, which means you still have to supplement.  The problem here is that it's hard to predict when the yard sale season will end.  Last year I was able to hit sales until December 16, before they started drying up.  There have been a few sales listed constantly since then, but they didn't really appeal to me.

Now, I planned for sales to dry up around early to mid-November, so already I'm overstocked and the year ain't even over yet.  I've been holding some things back all summer in anticipation of needing them in the late fall, and now I don't.  Plus, most of what went into the booth after Thanksgiving was Christmas stuff, something else I didn't take into consideration.  I didn't need as much of the other stuff because it wasn't what was selling, and you have to go with the flow.

So, I'm sitting here now.  I've forced myself to pick up very little "new" stuff since the first of the year. I'm putting thing out as fast as I can, but I'm still overrun.  Sigh.  I hope the log jam breaks by the time sales season really starts.  I'm not sure how long I can constrain myself once the call of the junker spreads throughout the land.

There is a bright side to this, however.  It has lifted my spirits enormously during the bleak days of winter to go through my overstock  It brings back memories of good sales and warm weather and fun days. It also reminds me that despite everything, there were happy moments last year.  I just can't seem to remember them without help.  Also, looking at good buys I made last year sometimes affirms to me that I may just a penny ante second hand dealer, but I am pretty darn good at it.  I may even (sometimes) know what I'm doing.

The situation with my job last years was really hard on me psychologically.  You can only work in a toxic environment for so long before it begins to wear and tear at you, and that place had been pretty toxic for the last three or so years.  Doing the booth has let me heal and get in touch with a lot of skills and things that I had blocked off simply because I wasn't allowed to use them.  It's worth stepping around a few tubs in the house to get back to me, I think.

If you're going to carry backstock, however, you should do it right.  Here's what I've learned:

1. Wrap and pack everything for serious long term storage.  You may think that you're only holding something back for a few weeks, but anything can happen.  Something can turn over.  Something can shift. Something can break.  You have to protect your investment, if you want to sell it eventually.

2. Clean, inventory, price and store everything at the same time.  As much as I do love going through my tubs and getting them ready, I also realize that I'm touching these items for the third or fourth time.  I really wish I had them ready, so that I could just grab a tub and go to the booth.

3.  If you store miscellaneous items together, put an inventory list in the top of the tub, so you'll know what you are taking when you grab it.  You might not need any more of a certain item in the tub, and the list will prevent you from carrying it all the way to your space before finding that out.

4. If you have items that are part of your "specialty" or "niche", then store them all together.  It will make restocking those items easier.

For some additional advice and more/different perspectives on overstock/backstock, check out the blog for the book.  If you haven't yet read Selling in an Antique Mall, you can see all the ordering options at the blog.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How about some humor?

It's the weekend. It's warmish. Used stuff is calling me.  No time to write, so how about some thrifting humor?

I think everyone who shops at the thrifts has at least one story that's both hilarious and too weird to be believed.  We should all get together and write a book.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Presenting for your entertainment and edification!

I'm very fond of Mystery Guitar Man's videos, so I've been wanting to put one here for a while.  I highly recommend his YouTube channel for lots of fun stuff that's musically oriented.  He'll probably pop up here from time to time when I need to build some writing space into my postings.  He's the one that's not the Go-Go's or Emmylou Harris.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Introducing the Five Guys!

Whenever I go out on the hunt for stuff for the booth, there are certain things I like to look for.  Among them are items featuring a group of characters which has been very good to me over the past year and a half.  I refer to them as "The Five Guys."  Sometimes, I even call them "my" five guys.

Items featuring the guys tend to sell really quickly for me.  In no certain order, they are:

Mickey Mouse

Winnie the Pooh


That would be any version of the Caped Crusader, not just Adam West.  I used this pic because the 60's TV show is my favorite Batman and, in my opinion, the best one ever.  (Except for the Brave and Bold cartoon.)



Got a bunch of new and vintage Snoopys (Snoopies?) in right now, in fact.

For a while there, I was adding to the list any time I hit a new character gold mine, but I had to stop because it was getting too long to remember.  I cut it back to the original five, but did leave room for what are now my unofficial sixth and seventh guys:

Scooby Doo

Bart Simpson

He's a cheeky boy, our Bart, but he sells well.

Then there are those whom I have a fondness for, but they just don't sell as well as the Main Guys do.  They are the Honorary Guys:


Bugs Bunny

And, finally, what about the ladies?  Let's hear it for Girl (Sales) Power!

Wonder Woman


Snow White

Sleeping Beauty

Actually, the Disney Princesses do really well, when I can find things that haven't been played to death.  The Amazon Princess?  Not so much.  But I include her out of my own admiration.  Sometimes, you gotta do that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Okay, when I said "tomorrow," I really meant "the day after tomorrow."

But of course you knew that, right?

Anyway, here is the new booth space in all its glory.  The day I expanded into the extra space, I meant to take my camera and do lots of "before", "after", and "process" shots, but I totally forgot it!  Sometimes it's pathetic that I'm such a lousy blogger.

Anyway, here's the "after" shot.  I'll try to talk you through the changes.

If you can see that tape line running through the middle of the booth, that used to be where the wall of my booth was.  Mine was the nearer space and the one I moved into was the farther space.  I love the way dropping the wall opened the space up so much.  That whole end of the mall feels different without it!  (Plus, it removed a hidey hole for would be shoplifters.  That's always a good thing.)
The booth ends at the big raccoon sitting on the cot.  Moving my white wall over and down where it is now made more of the peg board available and usable, since the wall isn't being used primarily as a border any more.

I love having those two card tables in the middle as an island.  I never had room before and it gives me a lot of space for smalls.  Some small items get lost on a shelf, but are more distinct and obvious on a table.

Finally, you actually have to imagine the picture without the green and white file cabinets or the cot, since they've sold already.

And here are some bonus shots.  First, my religion wall, which is right across from my booth.  There's a little bit too much on it at the moment, but I kind of dumped a lot of stuff that I needed to get out of my stockpile in there.  It's been selling pretty briskly, so it should be thinned out some in a few weeks.  I'm planning on bringing in some nails and a hammer and hanging the crucifixes on the wall.  That would provide more display and uncrowd the shelves a little.

And finally, my book and media space, which needs some work.  I've got some plans for a revamp over the spring/summer, but it's going to be a work in progress for a while.  On the other side of the back wall is my big booth, so I want to find a way to connect the two spaces and get some flow going.  I think I want to move some bookshelves from home to use for display.  They are not as long as the walls, so it will open a gap between the booths.  The extra shelves on the sets at home will make up for the loss of size from the wall.  However, before I can do that, I need to come up with something to do with the walls.  I won't really need them at that point, so I'm thinking I'll sell them, even though it will take a while to get them sold.

And, there you have it, Eddie's Attic, v. 3.0!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Big Doings!

So, one day last month, I'm pulling up to the back of the mall to unload to do my weekly restock and re-foof at the booth.  Regular visit are necessary to keep the space looking fresh and clean.  Even after a slow week, there's still a lot of trash to clean out.  Sometimes, the restock is less extensive than others, but the weekly stop is a must.  Just moving things around can give the space a new look.

Anyway, the manager is stepping out for a smoke and she tells me that the guy who has the booth in between my spaces is moving to a new spot in the mall, and he suggested that they check with me about the space.  Now, I've been kidding this guy for months that I was going to squeeze him out and found an empire at our end of the mall.  I'd call it "Ed Mart."

Since there are usually a lot of open spaces at the beginning of the year, the mall has been running a special where you can get a second slot for half price.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to get it, because I did one of those deals last year, but I decided to go for it.

So, since the first of the month, I've now been the vendor for three contiguous spaces in one end of the mall, plus a wall space across the aisle.  Getting it all ready and keeping up with it has taken a lot of time, so the blog has suffered while I've tried to adjust, but it's coming into control now.  I think.

What's really nice is that I now have what amounts to a double space at the end of an aisle.  I control both corners.  I'm still figuring out the time it takes to keep this one up and working out how much to bring in each week is more challenging now.  I'm having to break a year's worth of habits, which really is a good thing.  You don't want to be too comfortable.

Sales have jumped, but it remains to be seen if they've boosted enough to cover the new rent, plus give me the take home I want.  Still, I do think that this is the only way to keep growing the booth.  It's enabling me to carry some larger items, which attract new buyers.

I'll post some photos tomorrow and more news as this develops!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Whole Lotta Thinking Going On!

There's a lot of contemplating and philosophizing going on in the junking world these days.  It seems to have hit everyone at once.

Sue at VRS is pondering gateway drugs, those items that got us hooked into this weird second-hand world and kept pulling and propelling until we turned into...junkers!  Mine were old comic books, followed by holy cards and other religious items, leading on  up to my latest obsession, which is vintage Christmas stuff.

Over at My Vintage Soul, there's a little bit about that phenomenon most of us despise, but can't avoid, the dread estate sale line! (Plus, the eerie coincidences that crop up from time to time.)  I haven't had to deal with one so far this year, but that's partly because most things calling themselves "estate sales" around here so far have really been indoor yard sales with badly worded ads, which were easy to spot and avoid.  I haven't been out much so far this year at all, in fact.  Uninspiring listings + too much stock = One Picky Picky Eddie!  We did go out for the first time on Saturday--four sales, one small purchase.

Shara at Monkeybox is taking the more active approach, kind of a thrifting random acts of kindness thing.  Sort of putting thought into action, as it were.  She's nice like that.  I think that's why the junking/thrifting gods keep rewarding her with Shiny Brites.

Finally, Manic Thrift Store Shopper is thinking about (and lamenting) what happens when a whole, obviously treasured, collection ends up in a thrift.  It's got me to thinking about what's going to happen to my little stashes one day.  Hopefully, Keith, or my brother or whoever has to deal with it, will be smart enough to take the library to half-price books, the comics to a local shop to sell, and donates the saints to a Catholic thrift store.  If I still have a booth, they can work put a bulk deal with the management, and that takes care of it all!

Geez...that was morbid.  Maybe that's why I don't do my own "pondering" posts to often.  Everyone else is constructive.  I'm a downer!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Booth Report January 2011

I've started doing some more intense sales analysis for the booth, and thought it would be a good thing to share here.

Last year, my sales tanked in January and February.  I still made my booth rent and cleared a little over that, but not much.  Those were my lowest checks.  So I was a little apprehensive coming into this year, especially after the strong, strong December that I had.

Well, surprise, surprise!  My January sales equaled my December sales, almost to the penny.  In December, sales moved pretty consistently through the month.  In January, however, I was more dependent on a couple of high weekends to keep things moving.  In fact, sales fluctuated wildly--from nearly 100 dollars over a weekend to less than five a day sometimes during the week.  Oddly enough, none of it seemed to be tied to the weather, either.  I had really good days on some of the snowiest, coldest days of the month.

I've reworked my Excel worksheets a bit to allow me to do some sales analysis each month.  I'll do a summary here on the blog as well.  I'm trying to move from just taking things as they coming to taking a more proactive stance--planning, anticipating and trying to be prepared.

I used to think that being prepared just meant remembering the kinds of things that sold well or sold quickly so that I could get more of them.  But I'm coming to realize that it has a lot to do with knowing when sales happen as well.  I'm looking to grow the booth to a new level this year, which requires new thinking.  At some time, I may want to take a class on this stuff, who knows?  Just business planner??

Anyway, here are a couple of tidbits from the January worksheet:

First, a look at the days by the numbers:

This is just a break down showing what percentage of sales came from which day of the week.  As expected, the weekends provide the bulk of the sales for the month.  Not surprising, since those are big shopping days.  What did surprise me was how large a chunk it actually is.  Including Fridays, weekends are 75% of the sales for January!  It think that's because I had some abnormally large sale weekend sale days in January, but I'm going to keep an eye on it.

Also surprising was the percentage of sales on Mondays.  I had always thought of Mondays as my slow days, but here the Monday percentage is actually higher than Tuesday and Wednesday!  I'll be watching that too, to see if this is a reliable pattern or an aberration.

And now, the numbers by the days:

This is a break down of the sales targets I hit every day.  I figured out based on December's sales (again my highest for the year), that I really want to try and maintain at least a 25 dollar daily sales average.  That number in itself surprised me.  It's lower than I had thought it would be, plus I had also thought I was already regularly hitting that.  Obviously, I wasn't!  Hence, the need for more serious thought in these areas.  So, anyway, that is may target goal for this year:  to maintain a 25 dollar daily average in sales.

Based on that, I decided to start tracking and see how many days I am at or over that average and how many I am below it.  January was again surprising when I saw that I had exceeded that target on 9 days.  I tend to lament and focus on the low days,  I need to work on remembering the high days a little better.  I also need to work on bringing that "less than 5" number down and converting some of the "between 10 and 20" days to something higher.  But, overall, I'm pretty happy with what I found.  It' a good foundation to grow on, anyway.  The actual daily sales average for February was 24.97.  So I was pretty much on target!

I'm going to fiddle with my sheet some more.  I'd like to know what day I make rent, and maybe put some actual dollar targets in for each month. There's more to come on this topic, for sure!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bits and Pieces

My, what a lot of catching up to do....

The weather has taken a turn for the better here.  The trend started over the weekend and is supposed to last a few days.  It's been nice to have a reprieve.  The last couple of major storm fronts missed this area too, which was a welcome change.  I do feel for the folks in the northeastern US.  Still, as nice as it is, it's way too early to get accustomed to this kind of thing.  I know that winter still has a last blast or two up its sleeve for us.  Problem is, that if it gets too nice right now, the fall back into winter will be that much harder to take.  Sigh!

We went camping over the weekend with some friends.  Well, cabin camping, anyway.  Too cold for tent camping, even with the Saturday warm up.  In fact, the evenings were still too cold for me, period.  They enjoyed the campfire outside, but I preferred the heater in the cabin!  (They call me "anti-social."  I prefer to be known as "the man with the warm buns and feet.")

We hit a local flea market on Saturday, as well.  The warmer weather meant vendors were setting up outside again, and that's where the real bargains are.  The outdoor sellers pay for a day spot, so they don't have as much overhead a the folks with permanent spots in the building.  Their prices are lower and they're more willing to negotiate.  I didn't buy a lot, because I'm maxed out on inventory right now, but there were a couple of things I could not pass up.

Let's see....what else is going on?  Well, there have been some major changes at the booth, but I'm going to write about them in a separate post.

I had the pleasure of meeting an online friend in person as she passed through town on her way to parts south a few days ago.  Kathleen is a fellow member of the Yard Sale Queen forum, and we had a wonderful dinner together.  She also gave me some very nice gifts, which were much appreciated.  The next day, she went by the booth on her way out of town and had some very nice things to say about it, which I appreciated very much.

Other than that, I guess things are about the same here.  I'm working on a ton of updates and stuff for the blog, so keep checking back.  I'm working hard on building up my backlog and getting some things scheduled.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Been out of Touch...

Been out of touch for a few days here, but with good reason:  There's big doings at the booth!  I'll give you more of the details in a bit, but I started out as an entrepreneur, but ended up founding an empire!  Been focused on that for so long that I haven't had a chance to do anything else.  Plus the weather's been blah, so I've been blah as well.  Plus the temporary part-time gig started back, and I've not gotten used to that schedule yet.  I'm working this week on rebuilding some of my backlog, which is really what helps me post several times a week.  I'm still here.  Still alive.  Still  working on stuff.  So, hang in there and check back towards the end of the week.