Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One month down...

It's the last day of November.  The new booth opened on the first day of November.  So, with nearly a whole month under my belt, it's time to assess a little.

By the way, for those of you who are missing the detailed sales breakdowns I used to do for the other booth, don't worry.  They will return.  I even have this bizarre idea that I may actually catch up with them from the point where they dropped off.  I have the data, but the spreadsheets are on the laptop that's having issues right now.  It works, but there's a problem with the jack where the power cord plugs in, so it won't charge properly and I can't turn it on.  I'll be getting that fixed in December, so I can get my record-keeping back on track.

So, how am I doing at the new place?  Not that bad, actually.  Am I totally happy with it?  No, not totally.  Am I contradicting myself?  No, not really.

When I jumped into the whole re-sale business a couple of years ago, I kept my initial goals modest.  I wanted to make my booth rent, which I have done every month.  As my sales have grown over there, I have increased my expectations.

So, with the new space, I kept my goals modest as well.  I wanted to make my rent, first and foremost.  Then, I wanted to have sales every day.  And finally, I wanted those daily sales to be in the double digits.  Let's take a look at each of those individually.

Make the rent.  No prob with this one.  Rent was made within the first few days pretty easily.  This is a very important goal to me.  After paying out for the first month, I do not want to go back into my pocket for rent again.  The space needs to cover itself.  And it's doing that.

Sales every day.  Can't say we've met this one.  I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation, mind you.  In the past year, at my other site, I've had one day where I did not have any sales at all.  Since starting up in 2009, I've had probably less than ten overall.  Daily sales, regardless of the size, decrease the pressure to have a big, killer day to make ends meet.  And everything adds up in the end.

I had three days without sales in November.  While that doesn't seem like much, when you compare one in a year with three in a month, it feels like a lot.  I'm just not that used to it.  Still, I had sales for most of the month, something like 90%.  So, I'm happy with this (if not totally happy), so I consider it to be mostly met.

Double digit days.  Now, this is where it falls down.  I've had a lot of days where I didn't some close on this one.  Again, based on my experience in my other space, I don't think this is an unreasonable goal.  However, it's also not one that I meet every day there, either.  Although, I do come a lot closer.  I've had a lot of one and two dollar days at the new space.  While it's true that it all does add up in the end, I'd like to see that number go down considerably.

I'm grateful for each and every sale I get, mind you.  But several days in a row of low sales make me start doubting myself and my abilities.  I wasn't expecting to wrestle with this much self-doubt this month.  I have to call this one not met.

So with three primary goals, I have one met, one mostly met, and one not met.  Which makes me more happy than not, even though I'm not totally happy yet.  I do believe, however, that I am on the right track.  And, I see no reason to think that I won't eventually make all my goals.

Enough about the goals, what about the bottom line?  What am I going to be getting out of this?  Well, honestly, I'd like my monthly take to be about a hundred and fifty more than I'm going to get for this month.  Nevertheless, I am getting something for all my trouble, so I'm on the right track.  I think I can make this goal, I just wish it was something I had to grow into.  Again, color me happy, but not ecstatic.

So, the question now becomes why am I not meeting all my goals?  And the answer, unfortunately, is me.  I simply was not as equipped to deal with some of the challenges I'm facing as I thought.  I've got some learning and some work to do.  I'm not afraid of either, but how well I do them is going to determine how well I do with the booth overall.  Pretty much it boils down to three things:  furniture, layout, and stock.  Let's take a closer look at each of them.

Layout.  My booth is long (18.5 feet), but narrow (5.6 feet), which creates a special set of challenges for me.  And, I'm afraid I haven't met them very well.  I knew I didn't want to line both long sides with shelves, because that would create a long, dark alley that no one would enter.  So, I've tried to keep one long side more open with lower pieces and pieces with open backs.  I was thinking that people from outside could see in the booth and be drawn in from there.

Thing is, I didn't plan it very well and I still ended up with an alley, albeit a multi-level one.  There wasn't enough space for people to enter from the long side, so they didn't.  There's always been an opening along one short side, but I think people were either missing it or only going in a few steps, but not going all the way down.  I can kind of judge this by the items which sold and where they were located in the booth.

I'm planning to address this issue by removing a few things from along the side.

Furniture.  This is a real challenge for me, simply because I'm not used to selling it.  Add that to my space challenge, and you end up with quite a pickle.  Conventional wisdom is that re-selling furniture is where you make all your money.  I believe the reality is somewhat different.

It is true that you can make more money on a piece of furniture than you can a typical small.  (I say typical to leave out those rare, special, collector's item pieces that aren't likely to be a part of a standard re-seller booth.)  But, you also pay a lot more for furniture.  And, it usually doesn't sell for your initial price.  Buyers are much more inclined to expect to negotiate on furniture than anything else, even if it's already a bargain.  Add this to the fact that you are much less likely to sell a piece of furniture every day than you are a small, then throw in the number of times you have to mark the piece down to get it to move.  In then end, I'm much more in favor of volume smalls as a reliable, consistent money source, with furniture as the gravy.

And yet, in spite of that, I bought into the furniture line and built it into my booth expectations.  I thought I was keeping it modest by only expecting to sell a piece or two a week, but that inflated my expectations and took my focus off of keeping the booth stocked with lots of quality smalls.  The reality is that I need to be thinking in terms of about 3 or 4 pieces a month and be prepared to not sell any for a week or more.  Furniture needs to be my guest star, but not my headliner.

I think keeping this approach will also help with my booth layout issue and keep it more open and inviting.  I'm already working along this line. 

Stock  I took a long look at my space yesterday and realized that I just did not have enough stuff in it.  One of my worries about shifting from the kind of flea market-level vendors mall setting that I'm used to into a slightly more focused shop was clutter.  I keep my other spaces jam-packed with stuff because I can get away with it.  It sells regularly and fits the setting.  I didn't think that was going to work in the new store, particularly with my layout challenges. 

Problem is, I erred on the side of caution.  It dawned on me yesterday that I had restocked the day before, only sold two pieces since, and yet the space looked half empty!  Not good.  Fortunately, this one is easier to fix.  I've got plenty of stock on hand, so more is coming!

I still think opening in a new spot was the right move to make.  I'm very happy with the store overall.  I just need to focus myself a little more to get to where I want to be.  Let's give that a try and then see where I end up next month!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Mini!

I haven't done a lot of writing about comics here in recent days, which is kind of ironic, given that I wanted this to be a comics blog when I started.  (First bozo who says "You haven't done a lot of writing about anything in recent days, Eddie!" gets coal in their stocking!) Heck, I hardly even read them any more.  But, they will always have a find place in my heart, for sure, even if most of the ones I'm buying these days go straight to one of the booths.

Every now and then, though, I stumble on a bit of comics news that gets me really excited.  Like this tidbit from my favorite publisher Fantagraphics.  I used to love mini-comics back in the day.  I've got a huge file box full of them.  There was something kind of thrilling about shoving a buck in an envelope and waiting for a new treasure to arrive.  I found so many great artists that way--Matt Feazell, Elizabeth Watasin, Leane Franson, and so many others.  It's a real shame those days are gone.

So, I'm plumb tickled that Fanta is bringing out its own line of minis as premiums for ordering with them.  Right now, you've got to order fifty bucks to get one (or order something else by one of the creators), but maybe that will change.  Surely some will show up in the, ahem, secondhand market for not too much money.  It is only Fantagraphics after all, not something the fanboys would really want.

There's some awesome looking stuff in that lot, for sure.  More than enough to have a younger me shoving dollar bills in envelopes for a month!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Rambles

Busy, busy, busy!

How busy?

Well. this is the week that was:

Monday:  Stock YesterNook. Take flyer draft for Grand Opening. Pick up Mayoral Proclamation for Grand Opening.  Hit two favorite thrifts.  Teach evening computer class.  Edit flyer draft.

Tuesday:  Take proclamation and final flyer to YesterNook.  Prep large holiday booth load for Peddler's Mall. 

Wednesday:  Spend day at Peddler's Mall.  Finish booth decorations and holiday stocking.  I already had done a lot of work, but I didn't like it, so I redid it.  I had to move some tables around, and a whole bunch of stuff.  It looks much better now.

Thursday:  Be thankful.  Cook. Eat. Clean. Work on booth stuff. 

Friday:  Black Friday!  Get up too early to go to Half Price Books and wait in line.  Did not get 100 dollar gift card (bummer).  Take care of holiday shopping at HPB.  It's nice to have a family of readers.  Go to Big Lots.  Hit a yard sale.  (Bust) Hit a couple of thrifts.  Miss out on set of Masonic glasses.  (Bummer) Go home. Eat leftovers.  Work on booth stuff.

Saturday:  Work on booth stuff all day.

Sunday:  Take another load to Peddler's Mall.  Spend afternoon there.  Hit thrift.  Come home.  Work on booth stuff.  Get ready to spend Monday at YesterNook.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat. 

I'm laying in my winter stock of smalls, so it requires a lot of work to get it all organized.  I'm trying hard to get everything priced as it comes in the door, so there is less handling time.

Sales were pretty good last week.  I sold a dresser and a vanity chair at YesterNook, and easily matched that amount in smalls at Peddler's.  I move a ton of smalls through Peddler's.  I had a strong smalls day at YesterNook too, which surprised me.  It was the first time that had happened.  I'm moving a lot of vintage Christmas there.

I realized while riding my bike last week that a person riding a bike is soooooo much closer to the fresh-smushed possum guts in the streets!  Yuck!

I also saw the first Salvation Army bell-ringer of the season at the grocery the other day.  I got to wondering if the prevalence of people using debit/credit cards to shop was causing lower takes in the kettles.  There are lots of times I come out of a store anymore and I don't have any change because I never went in with cash!

Some more cyber-cleaning:  The Popdose Guide to Patti Griffin.  It's a little too fawning, perhaps, which is a bit unusual for a Popdose guide, but it does provide some good background into her career.

And finally, wow!  Just, wow!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Small Business Saturday!

I think the idea, encouraging folks to remember the little guys during this busy shopping time, is a good one, although seeing the Amex logo plastered all over everything does make me a little queasy.  While it is good to see one of the big corporations realizing that small businesses do have something to contribute to the overall economic health of the country, it also seems to me that if anything should be a grassroots movement, Small Business Saturday should.

I've been having some thoughts about consumption lately, thanks to Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day, the Occupy movement and the like.  Small Business Saturday plays into that as well, but now is not the time to share anything.  It needs to gestate a bit more first.

So, in the meantime, while you're out there looking for stuff:  remember the little guys!  I'm a part of two different small business shops, you know.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Post Tofurkey Day Music

It's Black Friday. I'm off waiting in line at Half Price Books trying to get a free 100 dollar gift card. One of these years, it will be mine! Regardless, I'll get most of my gift-shopping done right there and pick up a few things for the booth.

Needless to say, I'm on a blogging break today, so have some vintage Nanci Griffith. I'll be back tomorrow. Same blog-time. Same blog-channel.

It wasn't until after Katrina that I realized how many musical artists I like had some sort of tie to the Gulf, either through their music or their heritage. For more than a year afterward, it seemed like every Americana artist we saw either had a story or a song that related to New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico or hurricanes. I kind of have to wonder if Nanci sings this song with the same sense of abandon any more?

I totally love this song, but my fave part of the video is the Norwegian subtitles when she is talking!

Back from the days when her record label was trying to make her into a country star, replete with all the stereotypes. I have a feeling this may be the only country song ever recorded that mentions the Mormon church.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was going to do one of those traditional "what I'm thankful for" essays here. but I'm not really that kind of guy.  Nothing against doing that, but it comes off as forced when I try it.  I honestly believe that, if you read my blog posts throughout the year, you pretty much know who and what I'm thankful for.

So, anyway, we're off not eating turkey, but still feasting nonetheless.  Go green bean casserole!

So let me leave you with a thought to ponder this fine day:

Why does this pic of Eric Bana come up in a Google image search for funny turkey pictures?

I mean, really?  Just look at the man.  "Funny turkey" is the last thing that comes to my mind, let me tell you!  At least I can understand why this one pops up!

See you all tomorrow!  Don't eat too much!  (Yeah, right!) Travel safely!  And may your teams win the games!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Your Reading Assignment for Today

I've been trying to clean up my cyber-life lately--finishing projects, deleting old drafts, clearing out emails--stuff like that.  It was in this context that I found a link to an old Emmylou story that I set aside to read at my leisure and never got around to doing.  (Leisure?  What's that?)   I love uncovering hidden gems.  I really do.

After reading it, I'm more in love with her than I was before.  I didn't even think that was possible!  It's quite possibly the most in-depth and personal look at her life I've ever read.  The whole thing is so sweet, it almost makes you want to cry.  Check it out.

My favorite part:  That she was named after her grandmother.  My mom once told me that she was so sure I was going to be a boy that she hadn't even picked out any girl's names.  She'd been calling me "Eddie" for nine months!  She told me that if she'd been wrong, she would have had to pick something on the spot like Sara Dorine.  Sara is a name she always liked.  Dorine was my grandmother's name.

My second favorite part:  The Abraham Lincoln quote.

Here's the lady herself with the late Charlie Louvin:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Rambles

Well, I'm free this week, mostly.  Still got night classes a couple of nights, but the days are free.  Good thing too.  Did you know Thanksgiving is this week??  Even though it's just going to be me and Keith for dinner, there's a lot to do.  We're big guys.  We like to eat.

It's going to be hellasciously busy around here this week, so I might lapse into low content (video) mode for a day or two.  Don't worry.  I'm still alive--just have too many irons in the fire.  I'll throw in a "real" post if I can and then update you on all the goings-on next Monday.  Deal?

Junk picking didn't last too long last week.  It started raining Monday night and rained all day Tuesday.  That pretty much killed the set outs.  You don't want it after it's gotten wet.  (Although, I have violated that rule from time to time.)  But there'll be another set-out week in May 2012!  Start counting the days now!

There's nothing sadder in my mind than coming across a box of totally soaked books sitting in the rain. 

At least it was a warm rain.  I hate to be cold and wet.  It's bad enough to ride the bike in the rain without freezing too.  I had too many commitments on Tuesday that were time sensitive enough that I couldn't use the bus.  Thankfully, it wasn't pouring.

And then on Wednesday, the rain turned cold, then stopped, but left the cold behind.  Feels like winter's on the way now.  Makes me long for some hot chocolate and a fire place.

I did find a couple of kid-sized plastic chairs in a pile on Wednesday, that were salvageable, despite the rain.  Let's hear it for plastic!

Okay, maybe let's not go that far, but I do love kid-sized furniture and will grab it to sell every chance I get and all I had to do to save the chairs was wipe them off, so it was a kind of win for me.

We hit Half-Price Books last week during their coupon days.  Since it was a part of my rather extended birthday celebrations, I actually bought a few things for myself, which is unusual these days.  I'm so much more focused on stock for the booth and on downsizing what is in the house.

I also got a lot of stock there too.  I love their clearance shelves.  I sell lots of comics and graphic novels at the booth and Half-Price Books is a good source of good, cheap, sell-able material.  It helps that my mall is way across town from either HPB, so they're not competing with me.  I can almost always find something hiding in their boxes of dime and quarter comics.  And I've pulled quite a few books, games, and other items over to the booth and sold them as well.  Business or pleasure, it's a great place to shop!

One of the things I got for myself (with a fifty percent off coupon, of course) was the all-in-one edition of Jeff Smith's Bone, one of my favorite comic series of all times.  I'd been telling myself for years that I was going to complete my set of the Bone hardcovers, but as time goes by, I seem to become less and less likely to do that.  Plus, this puppy takes up a lot less space on my bookshelf.  I sold my single issues a long time ago.  Now, I can sell the hc volumes I've got as well.  I just need to find a free weekend to shut out the world and read this sucker.

 Here's some musical food for thought about woman in country music.  Normally any mention of Taylor Swift gives me the hives, but I thought this was a good piece.  It's also nice to see something about the history of women in country that looks beyond the "usual suspects"--i.e. Tammy, Loretta, Dolly.  I love them all, but there was and is so much more out there.

And here's a good article on Gram Parsons' classic Grievous Angel that's pretty good, even if it doesn't include the obligatory Emmylou reference.  I didn't think that was allowed!

And, finally, here's a thought for a Monday:


Sunday, November 20, 2011

YesterNook--The Outside!

I didn't get any outside shots at YesterNook the other night, becaue it was dark.   But I wanted to complete the experience, so I popped over there on my way to work on Friday and snapped a few.  I think the outside of the building adds so much to the whole experience.

I may have mentioned before that the building used to be a funeral home.  In fact, my booth is in one of the former funeral chapels.  At some point the family that owned it provided housing for mortuary students and interns on the second floor.  Lots of people from the neighborhood have been coming in and sharing little bits of the history with Patti, the owner.  Some have even given her pictures of the way the area looked back then.  It's kind of cool the response that the place has gotten.

When you see it from outside, it's pretty obvious that is used to be a funeral home.  It really couldn't be anything else, I don't think.  But I also think some of those obvious funeral home features really do lend themselves to its new life as a seconhand place.

Take a look and see what you think.  Do be aware, however, that I make no claim to be a photographer.  It was early, and I was in a hurry.  The sun was in the totally wrong place for a couple of those shots.  I've cleaned them up a bit, but I also make no claim to be a photo editor.  I know how to push the buttons in Picasa, but that's all.  I'm also doing this on my own, not on behalf of the shop, so please don't mistake the quality of my efforts here as a reflection on anything but my abilities or lack thereof.  (Hell, you can even see my bike in one of the shots, because I was too dorky to notice it was there!)

First up, the sign.

A side view of the building.  Kind of screams "Funeral Home!" doesn't it?

View of the front from across the street.  Can't you just see chairs and chests and things lined up here on the porch, enticing customers in?

This covering may have provided shelter from elements for mourners at one time, but now it does the same for vendors unloading merchandise.  It goes quite a ways back, too.  Several folks at once can unload their stuff and take it in, remaining happy and dry in the process.

It takes quite a bit of garage space for hearses and such, huh?  Eventually, this will be the YesterNook rough room.

This ramp used to help wheel caskets out to the hearses.  Now it helps wheel furniture in and out of the building.  That door is almost right behind my booth, so it's been a real help for us already!

You've seen the inside and the outside now.  So, check out the Facebook page for hours and such, then come on down!  Tell 'em Eddie-torial Comments sent you and buy something from Booth 62!  (That's mine!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet YesterNook!

Like I've mentioned a time or two now, I've just taken space in a second store, YesterNook, which is located in the historic Germantown/Schnitzelburg area of Louisville, not too terribly far from my house.

One of the many things I love about the building is the architecture.  There are so many awesome features, that at times I find myself looking at them, instead of at all the wonderful merch!  It just looks and feels so right for this to be a place where secondhand goods, especially a lot of vintage items, are sold.  It's warm and cozy, which makes you want to stay a while, then buy something to take a little of that feeling home.

So, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of those features for you all here.  Maybe it will inspire you to make the trek to Louisville and check it out!

Note to any YesterNook vendors who see this:  I wasn't really intending to spotlight any one booth or item, but I couldn't help but catch some things in my pics.  We have stuff everywhere, you know!  So, don't feel slighted if your booth isn't featured here.  Also, if you do see your space/stuff here and would prefer that it not be shown, let me know and I'll be glad to take the pic down.

One of the things you can't help noticing are all the arches.  I just love the arches!  They frame everything so nicely and kind of draw you through to the next space.


Double arches.  (The left one goes to my space.  The right one goes to the cashier stand.)

Triple arches.

And then there are the wonderful hardwood floors.  The upstairs is all wood.

And there are spots downstairs as well, particularly in front of the cash register.

I think the old counter, plus the hardwood flooring there gives it a real nostalgic feel.

In some spots, there are these cute little windows that let you peek from one room into the next.

One even has glass in it!

And, then there are all the wonderful spaces!  There are rooms...

within rooms....

within rooms!  Seriously, we just toured three rooms, each one leading you to the next.

Practically every time you come into a space, you get a little tease of what's to come.  Those little peeks keep pulling you through, making sure you see everything.

I hope you're intrigued by what you saw.  A lot of work went into getting the building ready to open.  It looks even more awesome in person.  Why don't you stop by for a tour?  Or maybe, to buy something?

I've got this waiting for you in my space!

C'mon!  You know you want to!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brothers of the Pick

I taught three classes on Monday, two during the day and one at night.  My day classes are close enough to home that I can walk or ride my bike, which I usually do.  I walked on Monday, so that I could catch the bus to the evening class without having to hassle with getting the bike on and off the bus.  Plus, Keith does a class at the same school on Mondays, so we ride home together.

Anyway, I was walking through the neighborhood, zig zagging between piles of junk set-outs looking for treasure on my way to work.  The entire area between my house and that center where I teach is a part of this week's pick up, so there was a lot to see.  Or not a lot to see, depending on your perspective.

Didn't find much, except for an amazing Mid-Century Modern headboard that was too large to take with me and that I knew would not be there that evening.  Oh well.  I didn't have space for it at either booth at the moment anyway.

I've kind of learned that I have to be a little philosophical about missed opportunities and then let them go.  After a couple of years in this business, I can say that I know a few things for sure:

1.  There's always going to be junk out there somewhere.
2.  Some of it you'll get.
3. Some you won't, for a variety of reasons.
4. You can't be everywhere.
5. Similarly, you can't get everything.
6. There's no use fretting over things you don't get because (back to number 1).

I can't spend all my time stressing about what I didn't get.  There's too much else out there to find.

Anyway, as I was walking along, I noticed a man in front of me with a plastic bags who was also looking through the piles.  I was kind of intrigued, since you don't see too many pickers on foot (other than me, of course).  Sometimes folks will poke in a pile they're passing out of idle curiosity, but there was a deliberateness to this guy.  He was definitely picking.

I watched him for a few minutes, then I realized what he was doing.  He was looking for cans!

For the past few months, I've been pondering various aspects of this re-sell enterprise.  You've got those who craft things to put on Etsy using older materials that they've bought/found.  You've got those who set up at flea markets.  You've got the eBayers.  You've got your people with booths.  You've got people who sell gold.  You've got your scrappers.  But I hadn't ever thought about the can collectors in that context before.

But it fits!  They go out.  They hunt, usually in all kinds of weather.  If they're lucky, they find something.  And then, maybe, they'll make a little (very little) money for their efforts.  Sounds like what I do.  And what all of the above do. 

Our hunting grounds may be different. What we're looking for may be different.  But, in the end what we're all trying to do is make a little cash off of things that others were getting rid of.

I know some very snooty people with booths who will take great offense at being lumped in with the homeless guys and their carts of cans.  I love it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Emmy on my Mind

I found this one in my drafts when I found yesterday's post. It seemed to fit the mood as a perfect follow-up, so here it is.

Tomorrow, I promise, much less angst and maudlinity.* (It's the new Eddie-torial Comments! Now, one-third less maudlin!)

I've always loved it when Emmylou does more folk-oriented tunes. There's a real sense of bittersweet sadness in this one that just gets me, you know? And, it's one of the few times that you can kind of hear the Joan Baez influence that permeated her pre-Gram Parsons music.

*I made that one up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still Miss Someone

Found this one tucked in my Blogger drafts. Kind of fits my mood a little lately. I've been badly wanting to call Mom and talk to her about the new booth. She'd get a real kick out of it. This was the second birthday without a card from either parent. Some parts of getting older really suck.

There must be something about Fall that makes one think of lost loved ones. I think that must be why the All Hallow's/All Souls/All Saints/Dia de los Muertos traditions developed around this time of year.

We've had to turn the heat on a couple of times lately due to some chilly nights. Bennie always used to perk up when that happened. She'd wake up, sniff the air with her little nose twitching and make a beeline for a vent to lay on.

Fall is just not the same any more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Rambles

You know, it's amazing how much faster you can go on a bike when the tires are all aired up and the seat is at the right height.  I've been riding for years with my seat too low because I couldn't deal with not having my feet flat on the ground when I was stopped.  I was also afraid of having to ride way hunched over and hurting my back.  A couple of weeks ago, though, I let myself get talked into raising the seat and it makes such a difference.  And I have less knee pain too.  Plus, all the things I was afraid of turned out to be non-issues.

The agency I teach for screwed up last week and advertised my morning class as a four day class, instead of a five, which meant that I ended up with a free morning on Friday.  It was nice, because it gave me time to do some other things around the house.

It's junk set out week in the neighborhood!  A couple of times a year, residents can set out large objects that are too much for regular trash pick up to handle.  It's a good time to be a junker, as long as you're persistent!  More curb-shopping goes on during these times than one can easily imagine.

You are actually supposed to set out the Friday-Saturday-Sunday before your week.  We had some broken down planters and yard stuff that I really wanted GONE.  And now they are sitting at the curb, waiting for Public Works, the pickers or the scrappers, whoever gets there first.  All the metal stuff has already been grabbed by the scrappers.  There wasn't really that much.  Of the rest, I can't imagine we'll get picked too heavily, but you never know.

It's good to have that job done, because I missed the set out in May.  It's kind of like making an offering at the curb, so the junking gods will treat you kindly.  They've been good to me recently, so I wanted to be good back.

Now, even though you're not supposed to start setting out until 5 p.m. on Friday the weekend before your pick up week, the reality is that people jump the gun all over the place.  Piles have been popping up here and there all week, and I've been digging through them.  It's been mostly real crap.  The early stuff never yields too much.

But, on Friday morning, we did find a nice dresser and a cute end table.  The end table needs some finishing work, but I can sell it as a project-in-the-making.  It's still really sweet and has some great tiles on it.  And free is always good, huh?

The dresser had a paint smear on it that came right off, but was in otherwise great shape and went right to YesterNook.  I'm still nervous about dealing with anything that big, so we'll see what happens.

The coolest part of the whole deal had to be the guy who was hauling stuff out of the house to the curb, who first told us to "take all we wanted."  And then started coming out and offering us stuff.  We got a wireless router tossed into the deal.  Quite a change from my last round of curb picking!

I also found a 1953 copy of Morals and Dogma, a bunch of vintage booklets and pamphlets, plus some fun smalls and a few other books.

No matter how long you do it, there's just no way to get ready for the highs and lows of the junk business.  I'd been having a killer week at both spots--sold a desk on Monday at the Peddlers Mall, a coffee table on Tuesday at YesterNook, plus more large items at PM--when, BLAM!  It hits!  The lull.  The low.  The crash. The burn.  Wednesday brought no sales at YN and only .59 at PM.  Oh the humanity!  And then the rest of the week at PM was killer!  You just never know.  On the one hand,  it makes me totally nuts.  On the other hand, it's one of the things I love about the whole crazy business!

I updated my profile, if you hadn't noticed.  Nothing drastic.  I just adjusted the age thing so I don't have to update every year.  I still have some time to be a "late-forty-something!"  And I finally changed the cats from two to three.  It's been a year now.  Sigh.  (Every time I go back to look for the link to that post, I start crying. I may never get over this one.)

This is the last week for one of the part-time gigs.  I won't have any work from them until probably February.  On the one hand, that's a long period without one of my regular sources of income.  On the other hands, that's also a long period of time to work on some projects that I've got going on.  More word on these later.

How did it get to be so late in November already?  Wasn't it just my birthday, which comes at the beginning of the month?  Sheesh!  I've still got holiday stuff to dig out for both booths, plus outerwear to consign and sell.  And, next week--as in the week that comes right after this one--is Thanksgiving!

I'd better get rolling, so have a video of a big cat yawning in slo-mo.  Seems appropriate for a Monday, no?


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Okay, so I actually said another word that starts with "F." You get the picture. I'm trying to have just a modicum of class here.

It was one of those unexpected kinds of finds that you can really only stumble upon.  If you could plan to encounter stuff like this, we'd all be rolling in treasure and cool finds.

A couple of days before my birthday, I wandered  into one of the local Goodwills and saw this:

Isn't it just 70's-tastic?

I can't figure out which I love more, the tile inlay or the built in book rack.  It was priced low enough that I knew I could get it and resell it.  They had two other pieces from the same set of furniture, but the tiles were either broken or missing on them.

I wanted, wanted, wanted, wanted it!  However, I was on my bike at the time, so I had no way to get it home.  They only hold furniture for 24 hours there, and I knew I couldn't be back with the truck in that time.  So, I reluctantly bid it farewell, with a silent prayer to the junking gods that it might still be there on my birthday.

Well, that GW was our second stop last Friday, and I discovered that the pieces with the broken tiles were gone, but the end table wasn't!  Oh joy!

Even better, it had friends. 

Again, all priced super-cheap!

There was also a desk--solid wood with a cracked ice top.  I know.  Who does that?  It looked way cool.  But no pic,'s already sold!  For enough to almost pay for everything I got at GW that day!

I got some other small stuff too--a luggage rack, some vintage dishes, some art work.  I filled up the back of my little truck for forty bucks!  I ended up having to go to both booths and put stuff out right away.

Finding one piece of decent furniture at Goodwill is hard enough to do sometimes.  Finding an affordable piece that you can turn a profit on is even harder.  Finding several is unheard of.  The junking gods heard my prayers and they gave me a birthday gift!

Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You know what?

I am an alright guy!

And doesn't "alright" look like it couldn't possibly be spelled correclty?  No wonder I usually just use "all right"!

Wasn't Todd a cutie back in the day?

Hell yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A political thought...

This past Tuesday, for the first time in my adult life, I abstained from voting in a major race.  I just could not in good conscience bring myself to vote for the Democratic candidate, and the Republican was simply not an acceptable choice.  (But, then again, they usually aren't.)

Now, I've had cases where the Dem was not at all who I wanted as the party candidate, but I've been able to hold my nose and vote anyway.  Not this time.  Just. Could. Not. Do. It.  No way. No shape. No form. No how.

Even the old "You have to vote to keep the other guy out" argument couldn't work with me this time.  And given the nature of the other guy, that's saying something!  The polls were lopsided enough against him that I felt I had some cover this time, but I'm still not sure I could have voted, even if it had been neck and neck.  Yes, it was just that bad.

So I took my ballot and wrote "Abstain" as a write-in for that particular race.  I hope to never have to do it again.

Speaking of politics, someone on a non-political forum the other day made the comment that next year's election was going to be the "most important in our lives."  Now, I tend to agree with that, though not for the same reasons.

Still, it got me to thinking....

Shouldn't every election be considered the "most important in our lives"?

Or coming at it from another angle, given the number of recent elections that have been declared to be the "most important in our lives," why does it seem that when elections were about actually governing--you know working together, achieving compromise, finding solutions--we had fewer of these "most important" elections.

It's only with the advent of the deeply-entrenched partisan mindset on one side of the aisle when everything became about taking the whole battlefield that all of a sudden every election is the "most important" one.

It's something to think about.

And, on a different note, the church where I vote hosts wrestling matches for one of the small-time conferences.  There was a match scheduled for Wednesday night, so the ring was already set up in the gym where the voting booths are on Tuesday.   I never voted with a wrestling ring before.  Interesting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This one's dedicated to Chiquito!

Why?  Because he is so strange!

You know, there is more than enough video of the girls in their heyday floating around, that it's a crying shame none of it is available on DVD! Someone must do something about this!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

True Tales of Yard Sales: What Do You Think, Maddie?

The traditional way to celebrate my birthday is with a weekend-long jaunt of thrifting, yard saling, and flea marketing.  I've been doing this since way before I became a dealer.  It used to be a fun way to get out to some places that I didn't get to a lot.  Now, it's turned into a practical way to lay in some stock for the winter.

So, one of the yard sales I hit was one that I had been to the week before.  I typically don't do repeats, unless there's some totally killer stuff there at totally awesome prices, but something about my experience there was a little off, so I wanted to see if anything had changed.

The sale was initially advertised as "Must sell everything due to death in the family."  It was in my 'hood, so I thought it would be worth checking out.  There are a lot of houses in our area that are still occupied by the original owners.  As they die off, the family has to deal with the property, and everythig in the house.  Sometimes, this can lead to some good yard sales.

So, I checked it out.  And it was pretty much a mess.  Stuff all over the yard.  Nothing priced.  Family trying to sort through everything and see what should be trashed, sold, or donated.  In other words, they were doing everything that should have been done before the sale at the sale.  That's usually not a good sign.

My usual approach when things aren't marked at a sale is to pick up the first thing that interests me and see how much it is.  I can gauge from the answer whether it's worth spending any more time at the sale or not.

So I picked up this glass serving tray with some vintage graphics on it and asked.  "What do you want to pay for it?" was the answer.  That's never a good sign.  It almost always means that I'm going to get peeved and leave because they're going to get insulted by my low offer.  But, when I am asked what I want to pay, I don't sugarcoat it.  In reality, I don't want to pay anything, but I am morally opposed to stealing.

Anyway, I say "Fifty cents."  Again, no lie.  That's what I want to pay.  They did ask, after all.  No, I'm not expecting to get by with that, but their response determines the course of the rest of the sale.  And, unfortunately, their response was one of moral indignation. Deal-killer, that.

"Oh no!  That's at least three dollars!"  Well, if you knew that, why didn't you say so?  It would certainly have saved you from getting pissed at my honest answer to a question you asked! Always, always, always price your stuff, people.  Or at least have prices in mind.

So, I left.  It was pretty obvious this one wasn't going to go anywhere.  But, I kept thinking, "If they'd just made a counter-offer.  I was willing to pay a buck-fifty for that tray."  That's the way to deal with the lowball offer, people.  Counter.  Don't get insulted. Counter!

When I saw the same address listed for my birthday, I almost wasn't going to stop by.  But, I got to thinking about dealing with the aftermath of a death and how that can overwhelm people.  Plus, it was in the neighborhood.  Couldn't hurt to stop back by.

Well, it was almost identically the same batch of stuff in the yard, except for the platter I had wanted.  But most of the people who were trying to run it were gone.  This can be a good thing.  Too many conflicting voices when trying to deal with a yard sale is always bad news.  And Ms At Least 3 Dollars was one of the ones not present.  Sometimes, the problems with a sale can be nailed to down to one person, so I was hoping this might be the case.

Still, nothing was priced.  Arrrgh!  Did they learn nothing?

This time I started at the books.  Much less personal.  Much less likely to have sentiment attached.  I asked about prices and the seller said "Fifty cents each for most.  More for some of the bigger ones."  Okay, now we're talking.  So I got a few.

Then I found a box with several Dr Seuss stuffed figures in it, including Horton from Horton Hears a Who.  I asked about them, and the seller said, "I'll have to ask."  Uh oh.  Not a good sign.   She shouts inside the house for Maddie to come out and talk to me about her stuff.

When Maddie comes out, I finally understand everything.  (By the way, that's not her real name.  Since I'm using a lot of details in this story, I felt like I ought to change it.)  Maddie is a few years older than me and she's mentally handicapped.  So I ask about the items, and she looks to the other seller, who tells her that she should decide since it's her things.  She decides fifty cents each.  And I agree, so Horton and friends are going home with me.

I'm not sure of the relation between Maddie and the other seller, but they are family.  In talking to Maddie a little and listening to some other details, I was able to piece some of the story together.  The house belonged to her mother who had recently died, and Maddie had lived there with her.  So now the family was having to deal with the aftermath, including helping Maddie with new arrangements.  I'm not sure what those were, but she did say she wasn't going to have room for everything any more.

And, all of a sudden, I was wishing I'd been just a bit more patient the previous week, even with Ms Three Dollars.  That's a lot to have to take care of and deal with.  I might have learned a little lesson in humility or patience or something.  I'm just glad I wasn't openly rude in my dealings with them.

Anyway, I paid Maddie.  She took her own money, which I thought was cool.  I really liked the way that they were including her in the disposition of her items.  Then I saw a cute set of Pfaltzgraff dishes in that classic 70's rustic Folk Art pattern that everyone seemed to have back in the day.  Nice set too.  Even had a meat platter and two veggie bowls.

I loved the nostalgia vibe I got off of them right away.  And I love selling dish sets when I can get them reasonably.  So I asked about them.  Turns out, they had been the mother's, so Maddie was calling the shots.  She looked to the other folks again and they told her to decide what she wanted.  She looked at the dishes and said "Five Dollars."  Then she asked them if that was okay.  They said "Is that what you want to sell them for?'  She said it was.  Then they said "Then it's okay."

I've worked with mentally handicapped adults before, and I really liked the way they were interacting.  I have no doubt in my mind that they would have protected her from getting ripped off, but they were letting her make  the decisions, which was appropriate.  And, that was the perfect price for me!

So I gave Maddie the money.  She found me a really good box to put them in and some newspaper to wrap them in and even helped me box them up.  It ended up being a pretty neat experience.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


I don't know if any of you caught the hint I dropped the other day about some of the stuff I've got in the works or not, but I'm ready to start spelling some stuff out, bit by bit.  There will be more announcements to come, as more things get lined up, but this one is the biggie:

I've taken booth space in a second store!

One of my good friends opened a small second-hand place in March of 2010.  Ever since I'd been differently employed, I'd been hanging out there and helping out from time to time.  She appreciated the company, and I actually got paid to fill in for her from time to time.  One of her key vendors bought a building in my neighborhood with the intent of opening a store herself.  After some discussion and decision and debate, my friend opted to close her place and fold it into the new one.  All her vendors moved over to the new spot and she now works there.   I happened to be at the right place at the right time to finagle a spot for myself there.

The time is right for me to expand, and I think this is the right avenue for me to do it.  I'll post more about my thinking and reasons in the future, but for now, I will just say this:  It's just four blocks from my house!  Is that a sign or what?

My booth is long and skinny--5.5 feet wide by 18.5 long, so working with the space is a bit of a challenge, but it's forcing me to carefully plan and that's always a good thing.  The vibe of the new place is much less of a flea market than I'm used to, so I'm also having to plan what I acquire for the space, and that's a good thing.

YesterNook (love the name) is about vintage, but not exclusively.  It's about affordability.  It's about furniture, art created by the people who are selling it, and just plain fun, unique stuff.  I'm kind of digging being there.  And I seem to have gotten myself involved in planning the grand opening.  Sometimes, I just don't know when to keep my mouth shut.

My ultimate goal in doing this is to double my junking income each month.  We pay the mortgage with my check from the other booth, but I've got a couple of months coming up where that may be my only income, so a supplement would be nice.

In the short-term, however, my goals are a little more modest.  Until I have at least a month or two under my belt, these are my goals for Booth 62 at YesterNook:

1.  Have sales every day.
2.  Have a double digit sales total every day.
3.  Make the rent.

So far, I've hit number one with no problem.  I've made number two every day since the opening, except for yesterday.  And I'm about 30 bucks away from number three.  Seems doable.

You can check out the YesterNook Facebook page here and the Flickr for my booth is here.  I'm going to have to get some more photos up soon.  I've sold a bunch of stuff that's in those pics.  I'll also have to get some pics around the building, because it's really, really cool.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mini-Monday Rambles

First off, Happy Birthday to my niece Claire who became a teenager yesterday! I think my brother and his wife probably aged a few years themselves overnight!

Thanks so much to everyone who had kind thoughts for the return of the blog and for my own birthday. It's much appreciated. It's not so good to be older, but it's nice to be appreciated and great to be getting back in the groove.

Roger the omniscient offered a bit of blogging advice to my post about not posting last week:

"My suggestion is for you, when the muse is on, is to space the posts more often, every two or three days, particularly the ones that aren't time sensitive, such as a video you like."

That's good advice, Roger, and always appreciated!  Actually, that's what I had been doing for the longest time.  During those periods when the blog is really working, I've actually had a plan and had things scheduled out, especially the videos, which I would put down for a couple of times a week using Blogger's ability to schedule posts. 

I would write my Monday Rambles posts a bit at a time throughout the week and polish and publish them on Monday.  Everything else would get worked on a little at a time and then scheduled when finished. It was really working well for me.  It's actually a system that allows for an occasional bout of depression or procrastination to set in.  But when I had a near long summer in tech-less land, I used up everything I had cooked up and then had no way to create more. 

I'm building my way out of that hole this week and next and hope to have the rest of the year blocked out soon.  I'd like to still break 100 posts this year.  I've done 55 so far, so it is doable.  We'll see.

You know what's really sad about getting older? For about a month or so, I'd been preparing to turn 48 on November 4. 48 is kind of a cool number. It's awfully close to 50, but it's divisible by 2,4,3,6,8, and 12! That's kind of awesome, in a nerdy way. Then it hit me a couple of weeks ago: I was born in 1964! 2011-1964=47! I'm only 47! Bummer! Never thought I'd be disappointed about being younger.

Spent the weekend doing all kinds of amazing second-shopping, which I think is going to end up inspiring several posts. I've been having some interesting thoughts lately about the relationships we have with our stuff. It's still ruminating at the moment, but will make its way to the blog at some point or another.

In that vein, here is a thought that did hit me yesterday, when I was browsing through a booth of made in China, dollar store crap:

"Is there going to be a generation of kids who grow up to look fondly on badly made, mass-produced, poly-resin angel figurines because they remember that their mothers had one? Is this crap really going to be tomorrow's antiques?"

That sound you hear is Sue's head exploding.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

And then there was the time Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Kieran Kane Sang "Dirty Little Town"

Lack of blog posting means a lack of Emmylou videos, which is simply inexcusable!

So to rectify:

Don't you just love that urban gypsy look Lucinda is rocking here?

This is one of my favorite songs!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fun Finds: St Ann-Francis!

Since I've not posted in several months of Sundays, that means I haven't shared any fun finds with you all. 

I think this guy will make up for it!

I totally love him!  Totally. Love. Him.

I stopped in a favorite junk shop a couple of weeks ago and saw him there.  I couldn't buy him then, because I was on the bus and he just didn't seem like he would handle public transit too well. 

I was only browsing at the time, anyway.  I was on the way to my booth from the part time gig.  Keith was going to meet me there with a load of merch in the car.  Due to the locations of my starting point and destination, plus the rush hour traffic, it made more sense for me to bus it out there, start tidying, then unload the car when he arrived.

So, I ended up with a short layover waiting to transfer buses across from this particular shop. Of course, I had to go in.  There really wasn't time to shop, and certainly not time to buy a two foot tall ceramic saint.  But I still had to pop in.

Flash ahead two weeks.  My uncle and I are out junking and we stop by that same shop.  Usually, I'm not lucky enough to have finds that I passed up two weeks prior still be there, but this time the fates and saints and junking gods were all on my side.

Now, I'm pretty good with my saints, but I'm not totally positive who this guy is.  I'm leaning strongly toward St. Anthony, except that he isn't usually shown with a dove.  He's most often holding the Baby Jesus.  The bird makes me think of Saint Francis, but he's clean-shaven. 

The brown robe makes him a Franciscan, but which one?  The dove is a symbol of purity, which would fit with Saint Anthony, so I'm kind of going with him in a less common pose.

Although, I also have another, more unorthodox, idea.  In the early 90's my mom moved to Louisville for a while and we moved in together, so I could save on some expenses.  We had a ground floor apartment with a small concrete patio outside the living room.  She would spread seeds out on the patio for the birds and squirrels, so that her cats could watch them through the glass door.

They used to run to the door whenever she would go out and wait for the birds to come.  One time I joked to her that it was like they were waiting for an apparition or something.  She said that they were waiting for the daily appearance of "St Ann Francis."  We both got a good laugh out of that one and from then on, the daily seeding of the patio was referred to as "the visit from St Ann Francis."

So, this debate about my saint's id got me to thinking...Anthony?  Francis?  Anthony-Francis?  An-Francis?  SAINT ANN-FRANCIS!  I've finally found a statue of St Ann-Francis! 

Because, honestly, how else do you explain someone with eyebrows this bushy who wears this much mascara?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Okay, so what did happen?

If you look back over the course of this blog, you'll probably figure out pretty quickly that I have a history as a hit-and-miss blogger.  I can go for weeks and/or months without blogging, then release a stream of posts.  Conversely, I can be on a roll, posting several times a week for months and then, BLAM!  I'm gone.

It makes it hard for me to build a following, for sure.  It also makes it very hard for me to do any sort of planning or put things in motion.  And, it gives Roger grey hair.  Or it would, if he wasn't already grey.

It's not deliberate on my part.  I can assure you of that.  There are people in this world who have a hard time getting and staying on track some times, and I happen to be one of them.  It doesn't take much to derail me, it seems.  But, it takes a lot of effort to get this choo-choo back on the track once it happens.

Some of it for sure can be blamed on my own tendency to procrastinate.  Yes, indeed, I am one of those people.  The ones you never want on your team or working on your project.  Worse yet, I'm also one of the ones who can pull a rabbit out of his ass at the last minute and get all the attention for it because it's a rabbit in a spangly tutu wearing a rhinestone tiara juggling fiery batons while riding a unicycle backwards and singing Swahili folk songs.  So sue me.

My mother always blamed this whole tendency on my father.  We must have inherited it from him because she was never like that.  You know the drill.  My brother and I have come to believe that we evolved it as a response to a lot of the pressure that she would sometimes put us under.  Classic nurture vs. nature stuff.  Whatever the reasons, at this point, it is what it is, and I'm not likely to be changing out of it any time soon.

Then, of course, there's also my depression issues.  While I've learned to cope with living with depression a little better over the years, there are still times when it's hard to get moving out of whatever inert state I find myself in.  There's only so much that meds and therapy can do, I believe, and I'm probably about as adjusted as I'm ever going to be.  It's not so bad that my day to day functioning is regularly impaired, but I do have my days from time to time.  I've been living with this for a while and have got the rest of my life still yet to live with it.  And it means that some times the focus to blog just isn't there or else the energy that I would normally devote to blogging needs to be put into something a little more important because it's taking everything I have at that moment to get the things that have to be done taken care of.

I don't necessarily offer any of that as an excuse, by the way.  it's just an explanation of the way things are sometimes.

Now, that's all internal stuff.  Sometimes, there's some external factors that pop up to throw everything off course for a while or longer. 

"Like what?" you say.


Like the pet-sitting job at the place with no internet access of any kind that stretched from just after Derby to the end of July with only a couple of short breaks.  The father of the woman that I house-sit for was in the end stages of cancer.

Like the laptop that's having all kinds of technical issues, which is currently preventing me from getting to any of my booth data.

Like the new part-time gig that started for me in August.  I was supposed to split the hours with another person, who flaked out, which left all these lovely hours (and the salary that comes with them) to me!  I'm really enjoying it.  The hours are good and the pay is nice.  It's not a permanent deal, yet, but it might lead to some more work to come.  And it keeps me very, very busy.

Like the secret project I've been working on for a few weeks.  I'll be writing more about it sometime next week, but here's a hint.

So, what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying.  Sometimes, I fail.  Sometimes, I succeed.  For the moment, I seem to be back, so enjoy it while it lasts.  Not even I can tell you how long that will be.