Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ended up with a little time to post after all

Well, waddayaknow? I did get a chance to finish something up and post it. That's good. I feel a little better about being low content for the rest of the week, since I got something real out today.


I'll be housesitting over the bulk of the holiday weekend, so I should have a chance to crank out a real post or two. I've pretty much got the backlog of drafts cleared out for now.

Coasting by this week...

It's probably bad form to re-start your blog and then immediately go into a few days of low-content, lazy-ass posts, but I figure my blogging standards can't get any lower than they already are.

I'm starting my part-time gig today and my schedule is going to be pretty erratic for the next six weeks. I'm going to pre-set some simple posts for this week to give me a chance to get used to things and hopefully stockpile some more content-rich posts. I don't quite have it together enough yet to frontload a bunch of real content, so you'll have to make due with this.

If I get a chance along the way, I'll drop in some other stuff, but I'm making no promises. Things are topsy-turvy enough that I've not yet worked out a day to go restock and clean the booth.

So, I do hope you'll drop back in this week, even at low content mode, it'll still be the first week I've posted every day since, well, I don't know when.

And in the meantime, enjoy Peter, Bjorn, and John:

Have a good week!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Countdown to 500!

The longest hour of the day for me is the one between 8:30 and 9:30 every evening. That's the point where whatever OCD I have kicks in, along with my huge primeval drive for instant gratification. That's the hour before the daily sales report comes in.

One of the things I really like about my booth arrangement with Peddler's Mall is the daily reports. I get an email every evening that recaps the day's sales for me, for every day that I have sales. It's kind of neat for me that, after a year of doing this, I've only had a handful of days with no sales at all. I could actually be doing something right here.

Anyway, the sales email usually comes between 9:15 and 9:30 each night, but I seem to be unable to stop myself from getting on the computer at 8:30 to wait for it. I typically end up mindlessly surfing until it comes. I'm thinking this may be a good time to set aside for blogging.

It's kind of fun to see what sells each day and exciting to see my monthly total increase. I get a real kick out of seeing something that I just put out sell right away. Then there's the sense of relief at seeing something that's been sitting there for ages finally move. I've learned to never say that something will sell right away and to never say that something won't sell. It seems, based on my sell-through rate, that I've got halfway decent instincts about what to put in the booth.

My goal right now is to have a month with $500 gross sales. I'm getting close. Last month was around $450 and right now I'm sitting at $487, with two days to go. I just wish the last days of the month weren't Monday and Tuesday, which are the worst two sales days of the week. I very well could get the thirteen bucks I need out of 'em, or I could have three dollars in sales each day. The unpredictability drives me nuts and excites me at the same time. It's like having Christmas every day at 9:30 p.m.

If I do hit the $500, about half of that will go to my space rent. (I've actually got three spaces now.) Two percent is commission, and the rest will be my money to put back into the booth as stock in September. It's kind of self-perpetuating and self-sustaining right now.

My other goal is to sustain the 400+ gross level through the winter. Last year, I had strong sales through July and August, then they slowly began to slide through the fall. Now that I know what the pattern is, I hope to plan to avoid it. I know one thing I pan to do is work more Christmassy stuff in earlier. Another will be to have more new items that will be suitable for gifts. I'm even toying with the idea of creating some "Give Secondhand" flyers for the holidays. I'm creating a small stockpile of vintage holiday items as well. The ones I had last year sold very well for me.

For right now, though,I'm still pulling for thirteen more bucks in the next two days.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Booth Doings

One of the best things that has happened to me in the past year has been my booth. Now, I'm not exactly setting the world on fire (or my bank account for that matter). But it has made enough every month to cover the rental fee and commission, with a little left over. I've not sat down and done any calculations with the costs of the items sold each month, but I suspect I'm usually pretty close to breaking even, as long as I don't try to calculate anything in for my time.

And it is a way lot more time-consuming than anyone not involved might think. I spend some time every day on it, which is a challenge for a lazy-ass like me. On the other hand, it does give me a somewhat credible excuse for not cleaning the bathroom (or blogging).

Here's kind of what the break down looks like:

2-3 times a week: Hit the local thrifts, hunting for stuff. There are four that I visit regularly, and several more that I get to when I happen to be in that part of town. This has gotten a little easier since I've not been working.

Saturday mornings for at least four or five hours (and sometimes more): Yard Sales! Saling is better than the thrifts, because the prices tend to be better. The best is to hit a good church rummage sale or fund-raising sale, because their goal is to get rid of everything by sale's end. This always makes for great prices.

Evenings after buying trips: Spend at least an hour sorting, logging, and wrapping purchases. I list each item in a notebook along with the receipt. Everything gets put into Rubbermaid tubs when done.

Monday and Tuesday evenings: Spend a couple of hours going through at least one tub, cleaning and pricing all the items. I do try to do this when I'm sorting everything after buying, but if it's been a big day, I can't get to everything, so I prioritize getting stuff logged while I can remember whet I paid for it.

Wednesday evening: Spend 3-4 hours at the booth cleaning it up and re-stocking. Even though the staff of the Peddler's Mall handle the money end of the transaction, it's up to me to keep the booth tidy and full of stuff people will want to buy. You'd be amazed at how a group of browsers can really jostle your space without buying anything!

In the in-between times: Spend a couple hours a week bagging up smaller items into sets and pricing them. I also like to buy large bagged sets of items, like fridge magnets, and break them down into smaller sets. I keep a box of stuff like this by my TV chair and do it when I watch my soaps.

Every six weeks or so: Spend a whole day (usually on a weekend) at the booth and give it a thorough cleaning and rearranging, to keep it fresh-looking.

And this doesn't count: Time spent on supply runs, any research time, time spent at clearance tables in whatever store I might be in (grocery, drug store, Target, Borders, etc) looking for markdowns I might be able to sell, attending the odd auction, and the occasional curb dive on junk set out days.

All that adds up to a big chunk of time! But it's fun. It takes my mind off things. Keith says it's been really good for me, and I would agree. During the time when I couldn't seem to do anything right at work (according to my superiors), I had the booth to remind me that I am indeed a pretty smart and competent guy. For me, that was a bigger payoff than any money that this endeavor might generate.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Well, what do you know? Blogger remembered me!

It seems like I spend my life intending to do so many things that never quite happen. I intend to be 20 pounds lighter. I intend to clean the bathroom. I intend to blog on a regular basis. And so on and so forth. We won't get into the weight and the bathroom here, but you can obviously see how well the blogging is going.

It's been a strange couple of years. I finally ended up in the absolute dream position last year, only to have it yanked away from me a few months later. Then I got shuffled into a less than ideal position, ended up doing a pretty good job at it, and got booted from it a month ago. Booted in the big way, that is. Been unemployed ever since.

Can't go into details right now. I need to leave it at this: none of it was right. I'm looking at my options as far as responses go. More than that I probably shouldn't say.

I've got some part time work coming up and my vacation pay combined with Mom's life insurance, plus a little monthly income from the booth, hopefully will carry me until I can get a regular gig again. That's the theory anyway.

Speaking of the insurance brings up the other shadow across my life, Mom's death. We went from cancer diagnosis last September to her death right before Memorial Day in what seems like no time at all. Still seems unreal. Ours wasn't the smoothest of mother-son relationships, but I miss her terribly. Interestingly, I'm finding myself remembering the positives of her life more than dwelling on the negatives. There's a lot more that I want to say about her passing, but not tonight.

So, anyway, I'm muddling through, just about like always. Trying to make the best of things and focus on the positives: I've got a wonderful man I love who loves me, three of the most adorable loving cats in the world, an awesome brother, the coolest niece and nephew in the world, and things really can't be that bad in the face of all that, can it?

It's a little tight right now, but I think we're going to make it. So, what's new with you?