Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Importance of Post Xmas Shopping

Well, my schedule got tossed about a bit right after I finished yesterday's blog and the tossing continued right into the afternoon.  I realized that I needed to turn in a timesheet, so the planned morning to YesterNook got canned.  Then my Free Friday got unexpectedly turned into a Wednesday With No Plans.  The end result:  I'm making the YesterNook stop today, then going to the Peddlers Mall, where I am going to finish 2012 booth re-do.  Today.  For good.  Come hell or high water. Done.  Finito.  I mean it.

Seriously.  I am getting tired of looking at the cart of Christmas junk I just pushed out of the way so I could get started.  And I'm even more tired of customers asking if I'm moving out!  (Usually it's just jerks looking for a markdown, but sometimes it's one of my regulars.)  Still, despite the chaos and the length of this project, I have had really good sales there so far this month.  I think because it's gotten a little sparse and things are moved about a bit. folks have been noticing some of my shelf sitters and they've been moving out the door.  Which is great, because part of the re-do was to mark those suckers down and move them along!  This way, I've made more money and I still get rid of them.

As a purveyor of quality second-hand goods, I have to work really hard to keep December sales up, since people prefer to give new items as gifts at the holidays.  One way I do this is by waiting until after the holiday and stocking up on decorations and such when they are 75-90% off in the stores.  I get a couple of tubs-full from various locations and store them away until the next year.  There is always someone looking for affordable decorations for their first Christmas, so I'm pretty much guaranteed sales.

The other thing I do is hit clearance sales at stores throughout the year and get new, in the package and shrink wrap items, for 75% or more off and hold onto them.  I also buy new, never-used items at thrifts and yard sales when I can.  Then, when holiday shopping season hits, I make a special table at the booth with signs pointing out that these are new items at bargain prices.  I usually have a good sell-through.  I had to re-stock that table a couple of times this year.  If you keep your eyes open, there's a lot of stuff like this to be found.  You just have to be careful not to overdo it.  And make sure you keep your re-sell price below retail.

Part of the trick is waiting for the right moment to buy.  The day after Christmas, the markdowns on holiday merch begin, but they start at 50%.  This really isn't enough of a bargain for reselling purposes.  There's no point in hording something all year long if you're going to have to sell it at full retail to make some money.  People won't buy it if it's the same price they could get it for in a regular store.

I swoop in when the markdowns hit 75%.  The selection is usually still pretty good, and the items can be resold later for less than full retail and still make a profit.  So, imagine my consternation this year when I got sick right as the 75% markdowns were coming!  It was even more frustrating than not being able to complete the booth re-do.

When I could finally get out again (Saturday), we made beelines for the stores.  Thankfully, at most of them there was still a good selection left.  The exception was Target, which had already gone to 90%.  Now, I love a 90% markdown, but at that point all you're left with is a couple of Santa mugs that say "Kitty" on them and a faded felt stocking.  And one of the mugs will be chipped.  Not exactly prime resale material.  Since I really prefer Target goods for the quality, this was a bit of a blow.  But, I just got a few extra things at some of the other places and let it go.  In the end it's all a crap shoot, and you do your best and hope it works.  The most important thing is to get enough stuff to carry through the holiday season, without having a lot of leftovers to store.  Usually 2-3 tubs worth is fine, and I was able to get that.

But next year, I'm crawling out there on my belly if I have to!

While we were out Saturday, we also stopped at Goodwill to drop a box of donations off.  We pulled out into the alley the runs behind the neighboring stores, and Keith spotted something Christmassy peeking out of one of the dumpsters.  It turned out to be the most marvelous bag of vintage plastic holly garland!  Gobs and gobs of it.  Long stands.  Short strands.  Little bits and pieces.  Some if it was a little sun-faded, and there's a bit of decades-old masking tape stuck here and there, but mostly it's in beautiful shape--a fine relic from the days when this country produced the finest plastic holiday geegaws and nick nacks the world has ever seen!

I've already stashed it away for Christmas 2012.  My plan is to find the coolest, most awesome baskets I can this year in all sizes and sell it by the basketful as decor.  You've always gotta have a plan.

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