Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Rambles

Well, Black Friday was a mixed bag, boothwise.  Had a really good day at YesterNook, where I put out a ton of vintage Xmas AnnaLee dolls, but only a so-so day at Peddler's Mall.  It wasn't a bad day there, per se.  It was just a normal day.  I typically have a good BF there, so I was a little bummed about that, especially since I spent most of Wednesday there re-working the space and getting ready.  However, Saturday redeemed everything with 81 dollars in total sales there, followed by Sunday with 84!  Woo hoo!  Let the holiday shopping begin!

I'm a little concerned that few of my gift idea items are selling, but I think my set up may be to blame.  It's way too crowded.  I've got a new idea I want to try out to alleviate some of that.  Plus, I've not done my Craigslist ad yet.  On the other hand, I've sold out of all my wrapping paper and all my Disney Christmas items.

I had a kind of disturbing experience while shopping on BF.  I was in a thrift that was doing a half-off sale and had a cart loaded with stuff.  The aisles at this thrift are very narrow, and there is no room to get a cart through the clothing racks, which have bins on top with merch in them.  I left my cart at the end of a rack and was looking at stuff in the bins, when I hear a "clank" from my cart.  I turned around, and there's some woman digging through my cart!

Now, there's only like eight people in the shop, so it's pretty obvious who has carts and who doesn't.  I shout at her to get out of my cart and she grunts at me:  "There's carts all over the store.  I didn't know."  Like hell she didn't.  When I came in the store she was digging through the large donation bin at the front of the store, and it has a LARGE sign on it that says the items in that bin are not yet for sale.  She knew exactly what she was doing!

She managed to snag some stuff out of my cart before I caught her.  I saw one of the items sitting on a shelf later.  She didn't want it because she had chipped it while rummaging around in my cart.  She also chipped something else in the cart that I really wanted to buy.  The nerve of some people.  Seriously, I would never do something like that.

Later on, we went to Half-Price Books for their sale.  I managed to get all of my holiday gifts there, so that worked out nicely.  My sister-in-law and I have similar tastes in mysteries, so buying for her is always fun.  Now that my niece is totally a teen-ager, she's a bit more of a challenge.  I also found several vintage board games at one of them for a buck a throw.

My usual plan of action there is to load my cart up with possibilities and then sit down somewhere and sort through them to decide what to buy.  Since they frequently only have one copy of many of the things I am interested in, I tend to grab it before it's gone and then make the actual buying decision later.

So, I loaded up my cart and found an empty chair to sit in and started going through my choices.  It usually takes me a little while, since I like to thumb through things, read a few passages, etc.  I'm in the middle of this process, when a woman pops up in front of me and demands to know where the stuff that was in the chair is.  I tell her that the chair was empty when I sat down.  She tells me that there was a vest and two books there.  I repeat that the chair was empty.  She then reaches for my jacket, which is in my cart, and starts to pick it up to look under it.  Excuse me?

Right at the point where I'm about to tell her to get her hands off my stuff, a staff person intervenes and tells her that her stuff is at one of the registers.  They thought someone had forgotten it, because it had been laying unattended in  the chair for over half an hour!  Sheesh!

Basically, twice in one day, I had my shopping cart violated by odd women.  I hope that's not an omen for something.

This is going to be a busy, busy week.  New group starts at work.  Out of town meeting on Friday.  Booths to stock.  Posts to write.  Cards to scan.  Books to read.  Junk to price.  Lots to do.  My desk has become an out of control mound.  I cannot find my camera, which I need to finish a couple of posts and also for some Craigslist postings.  Too much to do!

 Guess I'd better get on with it, huh?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thoughts on Black Friday

That title is a bit of a double entendre, actually.  These are both thoughts about Black Friday and thoughts that I am having/writing during the morning of Black Friday.  It works for me.

My relationship to Black Friday has changed a bit over the years, due to a couple of reasons.  One is the change in my income/status caused by the loss of my last full-time employment a couple of years ago.  Even now, when I'm in better economic shape thanks to a good part-time job, I'm not nearly as up on BF as I used to be.  There's also my realization that I simply have way too much stuff.  I really don't need any more.  Really.  That's one of the reasons that I started re-selling.

On the other hand, as a re-seller, I have a bit of a vested interest in any day where people go out and buy stuff.  I just want them to buy it from me.

We used to be dedicated BF folks.  We'd plan our day, get up early, wait in line, etc. I do need to make it clear, however, that we never lined up the night before, never shopped on Thanksgiving, and never, ever got into the madness at Wal-Mart.  We may have been dedicated, but we weren't fanatic.

The past couple of years, I've gotten up early for the Half-Price Books gift card giveaway, shopped there, and then gone home and gone to bed.  This year, I'm going to go for their sale, but I've kind of given up the idea of getting that 100 dollar gift card.  It just ain't gonna happen.  We will be heading over there later, as it's kind of my one-stop shopping for holiday gifts these days, but not until a more reasonable hour.  

There's a lot to Black Friday that can be seen as unsavory, or at the very least should give one pause for thought:

  • It's out of control.  It's not just the insanity at Wal-Mart, either.  Wednesday evening, we stopped at the grocery to pick up a couple of things for Thanksgiving dinner.  There were folks already lined up at the K-Mart next door.  That's out of control.
  • It encourages excess, whether it's greed, consumerism, or bad behavior.
  • Where does the money go?  Who truly benefits from this frenzy?
  • What about the workers?

Given all this, is there another way to "do" Black Friday?  One alternative is an outgrowth of the Occupy Movement called Buy Nothing Day.  It's an extremist kind of reaction, and, like all such reactions, it's got a few problems.

For one thing, it's indiscriminate.  The organizers make no distinction between corporate big boxes and small, locally-owned businesses.  The smaller you are, the less able you are to take the hit of no one buying anything from you.  I fully admit to the inherent self-interest in this comment.

It's also overly simplistic and idealistic.  A couple of pages about BND postulate that it will lead to the decline of the capitalist system.  Really?  While I do think we all should approach our interactions with the system carefully and thoughtfully, I think we do so in order to make those interactions as ethical and decent as possible.  It might in the end lead to societal change, but that's more of a happy, unintentional result, rather than a goal.

It's limited in scope.  I know that BF is an easy, bloated target of consumerist madness, but there are 364 other days of the year where we exist as economic beings.  If you're actually going for societal change, then your efforts need to be made on more than just one day a year.

Finally, it's not always practical.  Food.  Medicine.  Gas to get to work.  There are things that have to be purchased on any given day, including this one. 

I've kind of been thinking about this ever since I heard a news story about BND last year.  Unfortunately, I didn't get around to writing anything at that time, so now is that chance to get it off my chest.  What I'd like to see is a spectrum of "days" developed to counter not only the frenzy of BF, but the whole holiday season.  This is an approach that can also be carried on throughout the year, if someone chooses.  Here are some ideas:

Buy as Little as Possible Day:  A retooling of BND that takes into account necessary shopping.  It could also be called Necessities Only Day.

Buy Local Day:  Make a point of doing the bulk of your shopping at locally-owned businesses.  Keep more of your money in your hometown.

Shop Small Day:  This one already exists.

Shop Secondhand Day:  Yard sales, thrifts, flea markets, etc. would be the focus on this day.  Extending the life of items, putting them back into use, and keeping them out of the landfills are concrete ways to counter the "must have more" consumerist mentality that pervades BF.

Make it Yourself Day.  Use What You Have Day. Give Back to the Community Day. Shed Your Excess Stuff Day.  Buy American Made Day.  There are all kinds of ways to extend this model throughout the year.  You could sit down with your 2013 calendar and identify several of these deliberate days throughout the year, maybe even several a month.  This is a way to make conscious economic decision-making a regular part of your life.

Once again, I acknowledge that there is a lot of economic self-interest in several of these suggestions.  What do you think?  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratefulitude

Happy Tofurkey Day, Everyone!

We made great time back to Louisville on Tuesday and actually made the whole trip in one big chunk.  That's not really the way we prefer to do it, but we got past the point of no return and just kept on going.

We were actually quite surprised about it.  Going down, we got caught in a massive construction slowdown outside of Memphis.  It took 3 hours to go about 12 miles!  We were prepared to get stuck in that again, but we cruised right through the same spot with no issues.

Our early arrival back home meant that I had a whole afternoon to spend at Peddler's Mall getting ready for Black Friday.  A lot of the items I had put out before we left sold while we were gone, which was a good thing.  I had kind of ran out of room for all my Xmas stuff!  I was able to totally rearrange and completely restock the area, so I am totally ready!  I have a few more Christmas items to go out, but for the most part, it's all out.

We're now prepping our annual vegetarian feast.  I'm pricing up stuff that I haven't had time to get to recently.  I'm going to spend the afternoon working on my junk room, which has become impassable again.  Tomorrow, I'll head to YesterNook and put out my last vintage Xmas stuff.  I think I'll hit a thrift that's doing half off, then to Half-Price Books for their sale.  I'll get my gift-shopping done there.

If you're watching my post total, you'll see that 200 is just around the bend!  Woo hoo!

I'm planning on getting some posts done and scheduled this weekend, so you'll have some content this week.  Hopefully, you'll read about some recent acquisitions, recent travels, and other thoughts in the next few days.  I've also found a huge stash of vintage Christmas cards, so "Your Vintage Christmas Card of the Day" will be returning, once I get some scanning done.  I'm also working on a couple of "Junkin' Memories" posts and a "This is How We Do it" post.  Plus, I've got a kind of a personal issue to talk about.  Stick with us, folks.  There's lots to come!

In the meantime, please go over to the Monkeybox blog and show Shara some love.  Her family got dealt quite a blow a few days ago.  There's always a personal side to just about every headline you read.  It's sad how often we forget this.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mini-Monday Rambles

Just a really quick note to let everyone know that I am still among the living on this planet.  Right now, we are in Arkansas, wrapping up our annual Thanksgiving-ish visit with Keith's family.  We head out tomorrow and will be back in Louisville for our own feast.  Regular blogging should resume about that time.

It's been a whirlwind trip, as usual, but I did get some quick junking in.  Finds include an awesome vintage suitcase with all hardware working, plus two keys!  It was a dollar.  I love, love, love small town community thrifts.  I also found a box with like 30 volumes of manga in it for a quarter apiece.  The biggest community thrift wasn't open, unfortunately.  I also got attacked by a Chihuahua in a Santa suit at this dinky Mom and Pop thrift place I stopped at.  They had nothing but crap, but when I turned to leave the dog ran and jumped up at my leg, barking and snarling all the while!

I always end up wishing we had more time when we come rushing in like this.  Too much to do and not enough time to do it!  Maybe next year!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Junking Show I Could Get Into (If It Were Real)

To be honest, I hope to get in a bit of junk-shopping while I'm at my reunion.  I may be more excited about that than I am about seeing people that I haven't heard from or thought about in decades.  A change in junking environment does a body good, you know.

Like a lot of junkers I know, I'm pretty much over the whole junking TV craze these days.  I'm hoping it's a trend that's faded, because all it really does is make things more difficult for us, because there is always some yo-yo who says that he saw 'the Pickers give 600 bucks for one just like it."  Everything boils down to commodification on those shows.  What can they get out of it?  Very little respect gets paid to an object's history or uniqueness.  They could care less about how cool or awesome it is.  No one has any joy over finding something that they can use to provide someone else an unforgettable experience.  It's stuff without any soul whatsoever.

Whether they're picking or junking or buying units or going to other auctions, there's always an obvious element of unreality to the whole deal, which is especially obvious if you're a real-life junker.  It's time for the whole thing to just go away and let us junk in peace.

However, there is one show that I would fall in line behind, if it ever made it to the TV screen:  Lake Dredge Appraisals!  Check this out:



Isn't that just the perfect parody of all of those shows?  It's on the Onion channel on YouTube.  It's definitely worth checking out.  Quite honestly, it's one of the best things on that channel.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Nerds Unite!

I'm off to my 25th college reunion this weekend!  I'm also wondering how the hell that happened?  Are they sure 1987 was twenty-five years ago.  I'm sure I'll have lots to say afterwards, but in the meantime, it's videos this weekend.

First up the Nerdfighter Anthem!  If you're not cued into the whole nerdfighter gig, checkout the vlogbothers on YouTube or just google it.  Makes me proud to be a nerd, I tell you.  We make the world a better place, you know.




Thursday, November 08, 2012

October Sales

Just a quick wrap up at last month's sales and a look ahead to the next couple of months.  October ended up pretty good at both spaces.  I did have some slow days, but I also had my highest day ever at YesterNook.  While I do wish that there had been a touch more regularity throughout the month, I really can't complain.  I'm moving furniture at YesterNook again and my books are selling well there too. 

The Halloween display at Peddlers Mall did really well.  I had another 75-80% sell through on it, which is the same rate as last year, but with a larger amount of merch this year.  All my skulls eventually sold.  The large skeletons sold, but the smaller ones did not.  I think it's because they were supposed to have eyes that light up.  Since these didn't have batteries in them, they didn't and folks were probably leery about that.  Next year, I'll get some cheapie Dollar Store batteries and put them in, then raise the price a buck and see what happens.

One thing that did not sell well was the costumes.  I still had over half of them left, including an expensive baby costume from Carters.  Next year, it goes to YesterNook.  I think just having them all in a tub hurt the sales, so I'll have to come up with a new way to display them next year.  In the meantime, I'm not buying any more.

I've pretty much wrapped up my post-Halloween clearance shopping.  I scored some of the most awesome skeletons ever for dirt cheap.  They're going to get priced and head to storage for next year.  I'm already excited about it!  The display will be awesome.  I ended up with about four tubs of stuff again.  That amount seemed to work well this year, so I think I'll stick with it.  I'm not ruling out picking up some stuff at a yard sale or thrift, particularly mock tombstones (which sold well) and vintage stuff (which is so freaking hard to find), but I think Halloween 2013 is set.

Now it's on to Christmas!  Oh yeah, and Thanksgiving.  My mother used to say that she wanted to buy a bunch of frozen turkeys and put them in her yard, because no one ever decorated for Thanksgiving the way they do for Halloween and Christmas.  I've got a nice Thanksgiving thing going, but it's not really that large.  If I make it too big, I have lots of leftovers.  I did find some Thanksgiving stuff already on clearance with the Halloween stuff, so I bought it to add to my display.

My Christmas stuff is already selling well.  My new gift items are moving nicely.  I put about a third of them out, and I'm already going to have to restock.  That's a good sign.  Decorations are selling too, especially Snoopy and Disney stuff, and I haven't even put out much of the newer items yet.   I'm anticipating a good holiday season.

We'll have to see how that goes.  Check back next month for more!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Belated Rambles

Okay, so how about some belated rambling?  Sound good?  Here we go!

Like I said on Monday, I spent most of last week sick with a bad cold.  My whole routine was: stagger out of bed, take Dayquil, go to work, stagger home, take Nyquil, go to bed, repeat.  If I hadn't planned out those birthday posts weeks ago, then I wouldn't have had anything on the blog at all.  There really wasn't a lot to write about.

Thankfully, I was starting to get better by the time of the birthday celebration.  As usual, the birthday weekend was devoted to my favorite activities:  eating out and second-hand shopping.  In the days before I had a booth, I was looking for stuff for my collections and such.  Nowadays, it's a merch hunt, although I did find a cool stash of old comics for myself.  Since the yard sale season has pretty much died (more on that later), the birthday event is kind of like my really big push to make sure that I'm stocked enough for winter.

As I get older, it's surprising to me how tired I am at the end of the weekend.  Wheeling a cart around a bunch of vendor malls is a lot more tiring than you would think!  It's also surprising to me how the secondhand retail scene has grown in this town.  I used to be able to hit just about every thrift and flea market in town in one weekend.  Now, it's just not possible.  In fact, there are a couple of stores that have been open for a couple of years now that I have not been able to make even one visit to yet!  I keep worrying that we've reached or exceeded our carrying capacity and that there's going to be some contraction in the market, but it doesn't seem to be happening yet.

As usual, it was a lot of fun and I got a lot of cool stuff.  I feel better prepared for the colder months now.  In fact, I might be able to get by for both booths without having to make too many merch runs during the cold months, except possibly for furniture.  Seems like a good deal to me.

We did hit one yard sale (actually a church sale) over the weekend.  There weren't many listed, and most of them seemed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.  This particular sale has been one of my favorites, but it usually happens much earlier in the year--February, to be exact.  Going from being one of the first sales of the year to one of the last really hurt it, I think.  This is the kind of church sale that allows a bunch of people to set up, but also has a large area of stuff that the church is selling.  I think the date switch put the sale so late that most church members had already had their own sales, so they only had their leftovers.

I did buy a few things, but nothing really special enough to post about.  A couple of oddball things happened, though, that are worth mentioning.  I asked a lady how much this cubby organizer thing for a kid's room was.  None of her stuff was priced.  She responded with the old "How much will you give me?" b.s.  I said, "Three dollars."  Then she said (and I quote verbatim here):

"How about four dollars? No, make it $3.50, then meet me in the middle at $3.25.  No, let's just go with three, like you said."

In other words, she countered her own counter-offer and did my negotiating for me and came out at my price!  I've never seen anything like it before.  Ever.  I resisted the urge to ask if she had sold much that day.

There was another lady with a bunch of electronic stuff that was not priced.  If someone asked about something, she would look it up on Amazon using her iPad.  Whatever someone had a used one listed for on Amazon was the price she quoted and she refused to negotiate because "I could get more for it on Amazon!"  I wasn't even interested in her stuff, yet I really had to suppress the urge to go over and tell her to put the damn stuff on Amazon, then wait six months or more for it to sell (if ever).  Seriously, you're going to turn down someone standing in front of you with cash in hand for a mythical 20 bucks more you could make on a website where you will never, ever actually list the item?  Someone needs lessons.

I spent the actual birthday day working my booth at the Peddlers Mall.  Last Monday, I had started rearranging to prep for the post-Halloween merch shift, but didn't get done because I wasn't feeling well.  I kind of left everything half done and then had not been back due to my cold.  In other words, I had a lot of work to do to get back on schedule.  Interestingly enough, I sold several more Halloween items in the days after Halloween, including the last of those damn skulls.

I pulled the Halloween stuff, rearranged the booth, tidied, and put out a ton of new stuff, including the start of Christmas.  I made a new Thanksgiving display, since my other one was getting a little tired.  The first round of my holiday gift idea items are out, with more still to come.  It all cleaned up rather well.  I forgot my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  Keith commented on my working on my birthday, but the booth recognizes no such special occasions.  Afterwards, I started making my rounds of Halloween clearance to stock up for next year.  More about that in my sales analysis post.

I'm betting I'm not the only one who stayed up too late last night watching that nail-biter of an election.  Now, it's time to pull together and get things done.  I'm in.  Are you?




Tuesday, November 06, 2012

DFTVA!

Image courtesy of the vlogbrothers


I'm off today, due to the election.  I've been working on some things online most of the day, but I'm getting ready to stroll over to my polling place and vote.  I'm hoping I won't be alone over there.  Sometimes, the place is practically empty.  I'm also hoping that many of you have either already voted or will do so this afternoon.  This one is important, folks.

Honestly, I fear for my country.  Not because of who might win the election, although I do have a pretty definite preference there, and I do think that the other guy will do some pretty crappy things if he's elected.  I also know that my guy will not be able to do everything that he would like to do should he win. He'll even up doing some things that I do not approve of.  But none of that is what I am afraid of.

No, I am afraid because of the nature and tone of political discourse over the last two decades.  You don't have to be up on current events to realize how nasty and polarized things have gotten.  It used to be that the rhetoric would ratchet down after the election as officeholders had to turn to try and work together.  Now, however, it continues 24-7 through the entire year.  As a result, we see how little is being done.

Never would I have imagined that one party would simply declare itself the "party of no" to everything a President proposed, even if it were beneficial or even if the idea started from them.  No President has had to suffer as many indignities over stupid issues as this one has.  And you know it will be worse in the future, no matter which one is chosen.

I fear because we are losing the ability to be civil over differences, to agree to disagree when needed, to find ways to compromise and work together.  Compromise means creating a solution that neither side is completely happy with, because both sides have had to make concessions.  It means moving forward with solutions that may not be totally ideal, but that will make improvements.  Compromise used to be what made politics function and prevented gridlock.  Now we've got too many players who refuse make any concessions whatsoever and demand that those around them do the same.

Never before have we had a climate of such increasing ferocity, rigid definitions, and litmus tests.  it seems that to identify yourself one way or another means that you have to totally embrace a list of positions or be called a traitor to the cause.  Thinking for oneself is not allowed, nor is asking questions.  Worse yet, this climate has allowed us to start defining people on the other side, without listening to individuals, by lumping them in huge categories and insisting that this is what they are like.  Further, since they are like that we should not have to listen to them, work with them, associate with them, or even be related to them.  Polarization creates stereotypes.  Stereotypes create further division.

Perhaps saddest of all, so many of these shrill polarizing voices come from outside the political arena itself.  Personalities and commentators have so much influence over the public discourse.  Outside interest groups can pour so much money into campaign ads that do nothing but further their own interests, not the common good.

Please, vote today as you see fit.  Vote your own reasons.  Vote your conscience.  But then remember,  after the polls have closed and the votes have been tallied, no matter who wins or who loses, we are all Americans.  We all want what is best for our country.  To get there, we have to work together.  We have to listen to each other.  We don't have to totally agree, but we can recognize good arguments from the other side.  We can be open to each other.

If we can't, I fear for my country. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monday Scrambles

It's been a really hectic day, and I'm just too wiped to think and write coherently.  I was sick most of last week, so I didn't get to work on Monday Rambles throughout the week like I normally do.  Taking all that into consideration, I'm postponing Monday Rambles (with its birthday wrap up) until Wednesday this week. 

Tomorrow, I'm planning on doing a political post.  If that's not your bag, just skip it and pick up with Wednesday's Monday Rambles.  There are some things I need to get out of my brain.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

And today, I am 48!


Finally, after my false start last year, I am hitting 48.  I'm actually excited about this birthday, because 48 is such a cool number.  How cool?

Well, for starters you can divide it evenly by 3.  All of my life, I have been obsessed with interested in numbers that are divisible by three.  It is a magic number, you know.



Beyond that, it ends in 8, which is an even number, which makes it divisible by 2 as well.  And, since it is divisible by both 2 and 3, that means that it is also divisible by 6!  Yay!

Carrying on, 48 is also divisible by 4, 8, 12 and 16!  It's just a giving fountain of divisibility!  A plethora of divisors!  Yay, 48!  Yay, me!

Numbers fascinate me.  Can you tell?

Remind me of how excited I was about 48 in two years, when I'm crying about the big 5-0.

Our picture today is courtesy of the ever-so-kind Monkeybox, who uses it as part of the decorations for her birthday.  It's a box of vintage letters and numbers for birthday cakes.  When I saw it on her blog, I had to ask to use it here, since I was turning 48 and it says "48th Birthday" on the box!  Awesomeness!  Vintagey goodness! 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Almost Here!

It's tomorrow, btw.



The times on each person are the amount of time each is in the vid.  Cool, huh?  At least I'm getting older in a world with TMBG!  And Keith!  And my kitties!