Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Rambles

Ever notice how when you ride your bike on a windy day, no matter which way you turn or which direction you go, the wind is always in your face?  How is that possible?

I've been stopping at a nearby White Castle after work to grab a cup of coffee before heading home.  I learned from my mother the value of a mid-afternoon cup, so I try to grab one whenever I can.  It's good just to sit and unwind for a few minutes.  I looked at my receipt a couple of days ago and realized they've been giving me the senior discount!

The weather is supposed to be pretty nice this week, which is good.  I'm back teaching at a site that is smack dab in between three of my regular thrifts and pap's running low on smalls!  Seriously, I am down to just two tubs of my winter stock.  While it is a good thing to be using stock, it's still a little ways until the yard sales really kick in, so I cannot run totally out just yet.

Weather last week was a bit all over the place.  Cold, windy, warm, rainy--you name it, we had it!

We made a quick run back to the old hometown on Saturday to retrieve a couple of my mother's old yearbooks and a few photos that hadn't made it our way.  We ended up coming back with a truckload of furniture and have another load to go back and grab this Saturday.  Just another story in the goofy tale of my family and my life as a junker.  Let's just say the booths are now quite full.

Sales have been out of sight for the most part this past week.  I had one of the treasured hundred dollar days at the Peddlers Mall yesterday, courtesy of a guy who knocked my comic inventory from three short boxes down to only two.  He bought out all of my manga single issues, except for the large anthology titles like Shonen Jump.   I am moving through stuff there at a very fast rate, hence the depletion of the winter stock. 

YesterNook has been pretty good as well, if not as consistently steady.  It does seem now that as soon as I get something set up and staged and holding lots of smalls, it sells.  I've done much better with furniture this week and am set for a record month there.  Not bad for someone that some of the others consider a flea market rat, huh?

Since I'm night teaching as well this week, I'm not riding the bike as much.  It's too much to get it home and put away and still catch the bus to my evening sites.  Kind of a shame, since it is so nice.  Hope it holds until the weekend.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Here we go again!

I'm running the risk of overusing his vids, but I'm really taken with Roy Zimmerman right now.  His music is one of the few antidotes to the current toxic political climate.  Plus, I love that he doesn't take himself too seriously.  (And he plays a banjo!  How can you not love that?)

This song is, of course, a tribute to Woody Guthrie and his guitar.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Send the children from the room!

It's the British swear words song!  (And despite what you're thinking, it's not a Monty Python thing at all.)

Don't you just love the enthusiasm she opens up with as she blurts out "Bollocks!"  This is one that tickles me to death and if I play it too much more, I'm going to wind up humming it to myself at inopportune moments.

By the way, "Bloody Hell!" has been a favorite expression of mine for years!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You know for sure that you're a junker when... read an article like this one, and your first thought is "Gee, if this happens, I'd better keep an eye out for Kentucky Kingdom stuff, because there will probably be a local market for it."

Actually, based on some limited experiences, it seems like pre-Six Flags KK stuff does have a little bit of a market, as I have sold a few pieces of it before.  I'm always on the look out for Louisville, Kentucky, and Southern Indiana stuff, particularly if it's vintage.  Every town has its own local memorabilia buffs.

Since the article mentions the Koch family and Holiday World, I can remember back when it was called "Santa Claus Land."  The commercials used to be on all the time.  We never went, but I always wanted too.  SCL memorabilia is pretty popular in this region.

The closest fun park to us when I was a kid was Beech Bend in Bowling Green.  We went there a few times.  I remember it as being okay, but not spectacular, which I think was typical of a lot of those smaller parks.  Of course, they didn't have that killer water park in those days.  Surprisingly, it's still open.  BG is only about three hours from Nashville, so I figured that eventually the competition from Opryland would do the park in as Opryland became a bigger deal.  It's kind of fascinating that Opryland is gone and BB is still there.  I have sold some older Opryland stuff (and would love to find more), but I've never seen any Beech Bend items.  I'm sure there probably are some, but I'd be more likely to find them closer to my old hometown than here.

Kentucky Kingdom wasn't Louisville's first amusement park.  That honor goes to Fontaine Ferry.  There are some serious collectors FF stuff around here and items can bring good prices at local auctions.  One local antique store has a lot of props and such from park and keeps them on display.  This video is from a local museum exhibit a few years ago.

Anyway, I do hope that plans for Kentucky Kingdom, or whatever it's going to be called, work out this time.  Louisville needs the employment opportunities for youth, if nothing else.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Rambles

Lots going on last week, for sure!

First off, the weather.  There's an old joke that if you don't like the weather in Louisville, wait fifteen minutes and it will change.  On Tuesday, that was true.

When Keith was leaving for work at 7, he said "Oh! Snow!" when he opened the door.  I was thinking he meant a dusting, but when I went to the window to look a little while later, there were a couple of inches on the ground.  The roads and the sidewalks were clear, though, and it had stopped snowing.

When I left for work at 10, I grabbed my heavy gloves and one of Keith's winter coats.  It was on the back of a chair and easier to get to than mine.  I thought the jacket that I'd been weraing most of the winter would not be warm enough.  I put on my hat and headed out.

Since it had stopped snowing and the pavements were clear, I decided to ride the bike.  It was misting, but not raining and it didn't really seem that slick.  I had discovered the day before that my back brakes were going out, so I just took it slow and steady.  I quickly discovered that, while Keith's coat and my heavy gloves were perfect, my hat was too lightweight and my ears were cold.

I got to work about 10:45--the ride took longer than normal because I was going slower.  I ate my lunch, got ready for class, had class until 2:30, and stepped out into warmer temps and no mist and also no snow anywhere to be seen.  None whatsoever.  Everything had still been covered when I went in.

It was warmer, but not balmy.  Now Keith's coat and my heavy gloves were too hot, but my lightweight hat was perfect.  Go fig.

I got a call Monday about the next evolution of the part-time gig (PTG).  The current source of most of my hours is grant-funded, and that grant ends next month, which means that hours will too.  I can't say much about the next part just yet, since I don't have all the deets yet.  I'm heading to a training next week to find out all about it.  In the meantime, my evening classes are starting soon and I've had a call from one of my private clients about some more classes.  I think I'm going to be okay.

Did I really just say "deets"?  Note to self:  you're not seventeen.

Keith and I went to a newish tapas-style Asian vegetarian restaurant for Valentine's Day.  The woman who started it is responsible for the menus at two of our other favorite places in town, so we were curious.  It was seven different kinds of AWESOME!  A tad too pricey to be a regular dining stop, but just right for a special occasion.  Pure exponential yumminess.

Last Friday's post was # 700, by the way. I made it!  Woo Hoo!  Where's my cake?  For the record, I've now passed post totals for 2003, 2004 and 2009, and it's not even March yet!  Could this be the year I get 200 blogs posted?  I need to pad this puppy with some more videos!

We took my bike to the shop Tuesday night to get it tuned up.  It's been needing it for a while, but with the brake problems I've been having, it seemed like the time to take it in had arrived.  So, I had to ride Keith's bike for a while, which is quite a shift for me.  My bike is a Wahoo.  His is a Townie Electra.  It's like going from your zippy little sportscar to your grandfather's big ole Pontiac. 

On the one hand, it's so relaxing to drive.  You sit way back and get a lot of push from your legs without a lot of stress on them.  There's no pressure on your back either.  It really is quite fun.  On the other hand, it's bigger and heavier than my bike.  Plus, it has only one handle bar brake, for the front wheel.  You back pedal for the rear brake, like a kids bike.  Starting up from a stop takes me a little longer, due to the difference in size and weight.  And it has a much wider turning radius.

Other than that, it's really fun to ride.  It doesn't really take me any longer to get to work.  I kind of feel like some sort of royalty all laid back like that when I ride it.  Kind of like I'm in the Rose Court at the Rose Bowl Parade or something.  I've had to fight the urge to start waving at people and shouting "Hellooooo!" in my best Hyacinth Bucket impression.  I just know that as soon as I start doing that something like this is going to happen to me:

Or this:

(Isn't Patricia Routledge a hoot?  Just love her!  That second clip is my favorite from the whole series, by the way.)

This week is going to be pretty nuts.  My evening classes start back, so I'm out three nights a week and Keith is out three nights a week. And they're not the same nights!  Not sure how two booths are going to fit into this at all.

Sales were pretty brisk at both spots last week, after a lull at YesterNook.  Saturday, I dropped some small furniture off there, then bought a desk to take to the Peddler's Mall.  Dropped it off there, and got a shelf to take back to YesterNook.  And in between, got my bike out of the shop!

It really needed the work, too.  I didn't get a tune up last year, so I needed several things replaced/updated. It cost a little more than I initially thought it would, but it's worth it.  That bike is my primary weekday transportation.  It rides like a completely new machine!

By the way, Happy Early Ash Wednesday.  (Is that said?)  And Happy Mardi Gras!  And Happy National Pancake Week!  Which is fitting, given that tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday!

And, on a final note:  when did Van Halen get so old?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

And then there was the other time Emmylou Harris sang a song for a movie

Two thoughts:

1.  Don't you just love her granny dress in this clip?

2.  It kind of amuses me how much the original Band line up here from all those years ago could be mistaken in look for any number of bands today.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And then there was the time that Emmylou Harris sang a song for a movie

Can you believe it's been ten years since "O Brother" first came out?  Where does the time go?  Been watching a lot of songs from the film on the YouTube lately.  I may have to dig the DVD out and give it a spin.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just Lovely

Lots of people have done this song, including--perhaps most notably--Emmylou Harris.  However, i quite like this version by Rhonda Vincent, shown here playing the guitar, instead of her typical mandolin.  She's a talented multi-instrumentalist, but there's not a lot of live footage of her playing other instruments.

And, oh, that voice.  She really brings that bluegrass ache to one of the most lovely, sad songs in the history of country music.  It's a great match.  By the way, if you want a bluegrass album that will knock your socks off and curl your toes, hunt up a copy of Vincent's The Storm Still Rages.  It's a classic!  She's kind of been drifting into radio-friendly, country-tinged ballads for the last several years, which are really not too my taste at all.  But, when she goes straight ahead bluegrass, this lady totally rocks!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Stories I Tell

Like most of us I was raised to tell the truth and be honest.  This can present a minor dilemma for re-sellers.  Now, I'm not meaning to imply that selling goods secondhand requires dishonesty or that re-sellers are immoral liars (well, most of them aren't), but we do suffer from a couple of commonly held public misconceptions that can make being totally honest in certain situations difficult.

First off, there's the idea that we're all jerks.  This is, of course, due to the minority of dealers that really are jerks.  All it takes is one or two assholes showing up too early to yard sales, bullying sellers for bargains, and generally not going away when they've overstayed their welcome and, suddenly, all of us are believed to be like this.  This is why I go to great extremes to distance myself from a lot of dealers.  I don't like to be around people like that and I certainly don't want to be associated with them.

Then, there's the perception that we're all making money hand over fist.  A few overly-publicized eBay auctions, plus shows like American Pickers and Antiques Roadshow have created this impression.  What they don't show is how hard you have to work for that big score.  How many small sales and busts you have to wade through.  How many great finds that don't pan out into scores.  It takes a lot of searching, traveling, cleaning, picture-taking, listing, packing, mailing, stocking, tracking, etc etc etc to find and sell this stuff.  It ain't easy and it ain't glamorous.  No matter how much fun it looks like on TV.

So, when the first misconception meets the second one, it leads to a third:  the idea that we are out to rip people off!  We know we can make a killing on that flim-faddler.  That's why we're trying to bargain with you on it.  Of course, it's bullshit.  We may know we can make a few bucks on the flim faddler, but we need you to come down a hair to make that more likely.  And, if there were a ton of money to be made on it, then it's available to you as well--if you're willing to do all the extra work, pay the fees, do the research, do the packing and shipping, etc. etc. etc.  But, of course, you're not, which is why the flim faddler's in the front yard with a price tag on it to begin with.  So, how exactly am I trying to rip you off by offering four bucks instead of five again?

With all this rolling around in the ether, sometimes sellers will treat you differently if they think you are a re-seller.  Folks having yard sales will get snippy or sarcastic or refuse to deal with you.  Staff at thrifts will be less courteous.  Some thrifts even try to bar folks who re-sell from shopping there.  I've not had anything like that happen to me, but it does make me cautious.  As I shared above and in the past, though, I really have no desire to be seen in the same light as some of those other vendors, and that desire is also a reason for caution when I'm out searching for merch.

Honestly, for a lot of re-sellers this isn't a problem.  And for most of the sellers we buy from it isn't either.  We are offering money for stuff after all, and money is good.  Right?  But, there are a minority of seem to take some sort of umbrage at what we do, usually due to one of the misconceptions above.  Most of my desire to be cautious stems from a desire to avoid them.  After all, the hunt for stuff to sell is stressful enough as it is.  Why make it worse?

Usually, it's no problem.  You find something.  You pay for it.  You act a politely as you can to everyone involved.  And you go on your merry little way to look for something else.  No need to worry about exposure and certainly no need for self-disclosure.  Until....they ask you a question.

It happens from time to time.  You'll get an overly chatty cashier at a thrift.  (And the more often you're in there, the more likely it is to happen.  People start to act a little more familiarly with regulars.)  The person running the yard sale will make a random inquiry as an attempt at small talk.  Some sellers have this burning need to know that their stuff is going to a "good home."  (Which I guess is somewhat understandable, given all those stories about flim faddler abuse you see on the news.)

Now, here's the quandry.  I don't want to out and out lie.  But, neither do I want to just come out and say "Oh, I'm going to sell it."  Why ruin what to this point has been a good transaction?  Why invite conflict?  Besides that, does a doctor or a lawyer feel obligated to disclose their profession at a yard sale? (Barring, of course, someone having a heart attack on the premises?)  So, I try to play the political card of being truthful without telling everything.

Seller:  "Wow!  That's a lot of toys.  Do you have kids?

Me:  No, but I have a niece and a nephew.  (Totally true. I didn't say I was going to be giving them the toys.)

Seller:  "Are you going to give it a good home?"

Me:  "I'll try my best."  (And, indeed I will.  With a brand new price tag on it, it should attract someone who likes it.)

Seller:  "Why are you buying so many of these?  Do you like them?"

Me:  "I think they're kind of cool."  (Which is usually the truth.  I tend to buy stuff I think is cool.)

Seller:  "Are you a Cowboys fan?"  (Got this when I bought a Dallas Cowboys glass.)

Me:  No.  It's for someone else.  (Totally true.  I just don't exactly know the person that it is for.)

Seller:  "You must like comics.  Do you collect them?"

Me:  Yes.  (Anyone who knows me at all knows that this is true.  But that doesn't mean I'm keeping this batch.)

Seller:  "Are you a priest or are you in seminary?"  (Got this one when I was buying a bunch of religious books and crucifixes.)

Me:  "No.  Believe it or not, I collect them."  (Again, if you know me, it's true.  I just sell a lot more than I keep these days.  Actually, I probably could have gotten a discount if I had been able to lie about this one.  Maybe I should have said, "I'd like to be, but you all won't ordain gays.")

Seller:  "That's a lot of stuff do you have a booth somewhere?"

Me:  "You got me."

Now that last one is the only instance where I don't dance around the topic.  The only way to not tell the whole truth here is to flat out lie.  And I won't do that.  However, this has only happened once, and it was at my favorite thrift, and it was my favorite cashier who did it.  And, thankfully, it hasn't had any repercussions, other than her saying:  "You're so much nicer than the other dealers we see in here."    So, at least part of my concern and strategy is justified.

I know this approach is not for everyone.  I know this whole thing may not even matter to most re-sellers, but I do know folks who have found themselves in uncomfortable situations for admitting they were going to re-sell what they were buying.  I'd rather just avoid the hassle.

One thing I will not do is tell what I might get for something.  That's an invitation to trouble.  I just tell them I'm not sure, because I have to research the item a little, which is usually true.  Another thing I won't do, which less scrupulous dealers will do without a problem, is concoct stories to get a lower price on something.  If I ever tell an anecdote about an item, it's always true.

Weaving your way through potential minefields to get what you need is tricky.  Doing it and retaining a sense of personal ethics is even trickier.  I don't feel that I violate that sense or do anything wrong.  I'm not out to rip people off at all.  Dealers who resort to lying or outright stealing disgust me.  I'm just a guy looking to pay his mortgage.

Sometimes, though, it can lead to some odd situations.  Not too long ago, I was in one of my favorite thrifts at the same time as a very loud, very intoxicated woman.  She was one of those drunks who gets overly friendly with everyone and was popping around the store asking other customers all kinds of questions about stuff she wanted to buy and stuff they wanted to buy.  Just driving everyone NUTS, in other words.

When I went to check out, she was hanging out at the register, drunkenly flirting with the cashier, who was desperately trying to get rid of her.  As he was ringing up my stuff, I saw a couple of AnnaLee dolls behind the counter and asked about them.  (They were part of the great AnnaLee flood I talked about last week.)  Well that got her involved.

She wanted to know what they were.  She wanted to know why I was interested in them.  She wanted to know how I knew about them.  She wanted to know what they were worth.  Above all, she wanted to know what I would do with them.  In short, she was getting on my last damn nerve!  And, in true drunken fashion, she was totally oblivious to that fact.

I chose a couple and she really got pushy about what I was going to do with them.  After ignoring her for a few minutes, I finally said that I didn't know for sure, but I would probably pass them on to someone else.  In my mind, that's all the information about me that a drunken, obnoxious stranger needs to have.  She kept asking and I kept giving the same answer.

Finally, she got upset and said "Why are you being this way?  I don't know you!"  Which is kind of exactly my point.  Why are you so interested in my affairs?  Then she said "They're probably for a woman.  You're going to get some nooky tonight."  And she left the store.

So after finally getting to pay for my stuff, I went out and got in the car and told Keith:  "Apparently you've got to give me some nooky tonight."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Great pic, huh? That was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid. And one of the ones that survived my great comic purge of a few years back. Just loved it.

I got the pic from here, where you can also read a great synopsis of the story, complete with more images.

Check it out and enjoy!

I'm off for dinner with Keith tonight. My treat even!

I figure he deserves it for putting up with me all these years.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Rambles

Happy belated Darwin Day!

I'll be starting a new on-again, off-again series of posts later this week or early next dedicated to some of the ins and outs of re-selling in a vendor's mall.  It's not going to be a definitive "how to" guide.  I think there is enough that is unpredictable about this business that it's hard to really pin down any but some of the most general principles.  So what you'll be getting is me--just one junker's thoughts and opinions about re-selling and how to do it.

Nevertheless, I'm going to be calling this series "This is how we do it."  So take it somewhat tongue in cheek--pretty much like you do whenever I say that I am a blogger.

Yes, I'm cribbing the series title from this:

It looks like post #700 might be coming up this week!  Yahoo!

Pretty dull week last week.  A former teaching client contacted me about some more classes.  One of my teaching gigs will be ending next month, but not before one of my other ones gets started next week.  I'll be doing double duty for a few weeks.  I hope I'm up to it.  Did a brief housesitting gig over the weekend, but it was just for a few days.

Sales have been pretty standard lately.  Holding steady at the Peddler's Mall without anything spectacular.  Very slow at YesterNook.

Went to a book sale over the weekend.  I've been to this one a lot, but never as a reseller. It's always on the pricey side for a used book sale.  Hardbacks are 3.50, for example.  But, if you're looking for something unique or hard-to-find, it's a good one to hit.  The selection is eclectic and pretty deep.  I've always found a few things there that I'd been searching for.  And, as a source for a reader, the prices are not that bad.

For a seller, on the other hand, they're outrageous.  I ended up spending five bucks.  I got a paperback and three kids books and a couple of vintage pamphlets.  An okay, if not spectacular, haul.  The real finds, though, came from the free boxes.

The organizers of this sale are extremely picky about what they'll take to sell.  In the church newsletter asking for donations, they had a list of items they would not accept, including old cookbooks ("the outdated photography makes the food look unappealing"), old textbooks, and old manuals.  Now, the places where I hang out these days love that kind of stuff.

Even at the sale, they were telling customers how picky they were and how they only want to sell "quality" items.  One of them even said "That's why we have so many set out for free."  Well, you don't have to tell me twice!

The porch of the place was covered with boxes of free books.  I ended up grabbing about 20 of them.  If it hadn't been sub-arctic that day, I probably would have walked off with more, but between the temps and the wind, I was losing extremities, so I had to cut it short.

Now, I didn't find any big ticket unknown treasures in the free boxes, but I got some stuff that will be sure sellers in the booths.  What more can you ask for?

What I paid for:

That Crusoe book has illustrations by the great Lynd Ward in it.  I'll be hard-pressed not to keep it.

Here's what I got for FREE:

The red and white checked book is a sweet, vintage German cookbook.  There are even handwritten notes in German next to some of the recipes!

All in all, not a bad catch!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roll on!

So many things to love about that clip.  First off, that's just a classic tune.  And then there's the way everyone looks.  The description doesn't say what year it is, but it obviously goes back a ways.  For one thing, John Hartford is in it, and we lost him several years ago.  (Isn't he a hoot, by the way? "I didn't win a durn thing!")

But my gosh--how young everyone is!  Del McCoury with no grey.  Jerry Douglas without that funky microphone he uses these days.  Alison Krauss before she had a stylist.  (Isn't odd, by the way, that she won the female vocalist that year, but she doesn't sing in this clip?)

I love watching the microphone jockeying going on.  It's not easy to maneuver on a stage with that many fiddle bows flying around!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Evolution is an ongoing process...

So here is the next step in this particular process.

Apparently, the hairy guy will evolve into Sandra Bullock!  And one of my favorite Muppet sketched ever lives on!

By the way, don't you just love the way she interacts with the Muppets?  So cool.  So natural.  Not every Muppet guest star handles it that well.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

January Sales Break Down

What a month January turned out to be!  If there was ever a month that underscored how unpredictable and erratic this business can be, it was January 2012.  I went from the highest highs to the lowest lows, from looking pretty god to looking pretty bleak back to pretty good again by the end of the month.  Honestly, at one point, I was looking at one of the potentially worst months ever, and in a few days, everything was completely reversed.  While it didn't turn into the best month ever, the situation did right itself and I came out pretty well in the end.

Let's break it down a bit:


I really defied conventional wisdom here.  While my booth was looking its worst and I was really neglecting it due to my illness, my sales were strong.  I sold a bunch of stuff that had been just sitting there for ages.  I even sold one of my display shelves that I had grown to HATE.  I was even still selling Christmas stuff.

Then, when I got better and got the place whipped into shape--seriously, it was looking really good--everything died. I had a week where I didn't break 10 bucks once.  Not. One. Single. Day.  I never had a goose egg, but came pretty damn close.  And, then, just when I was at the point of despair, sales came roaring back in with a vengance:  fifty dollar days, forty dollar days, a nearly hundred dollar day.  And the month got pulled back from the brink of hopelessness.

So, I ended up pretty well off.  It still could have been better, though.  The sucky week meant that I came in between 100-150 lower than I should have. 

I also remembered, when reviewing the monthly print out from the store, that I had bought three shelves for the booth one night when I didn't have any cash on me.  They were nice shelves, and a good buy, and I needed them, and I'll be able to sell one (maybe two) of them at YesterNook later and make more than my money back, but since I didn't have the cash for it, I advanced it out of my sales for them month, which means I lopped 30 bucks of my monthly total my own self.  Dumb move, that.  I try to stay away from advances at all costs. 

But considering the alternatives, I'm pretty pleased overall.  And, now that it seems like tax return season is upon us, I'm hopeful for a good February and March.


YesterNook continues the pattern of staying all over the place, as far as sales are concerned.  I'm still having days with no sales whatsoever--there were three in January.  I'm still having too many days with single digit sales--at least 11 (!), just based on a quick scan of my sales sheet.  And then there are days that are flat out spectacular.  What I don't have is any kind of a reasonable expectation.

With the Peddler's Mall, I know, based on history, that I can reasonably expect that 75-80% of the days in any given month will be at a certain level or above.  I'll have a few below that mark, and I cannot always be certain how far above it things will go, but I can identify a baseline. 

Not so with YesterNook.  At this point, the only thing I can say with certainty is that there is nothing I can say with certainty.  Maybe I still need some more time to acquire data, but I feel like I'm missing something and I cannot put my finger on it.

There is some kind of an "X factor" that comes into play when you move up from a more flea market style of environment to a store like YesterNook, and I'll be damned if I can identify it, at this point anyway.

And, despite all of the above, I had the best month ever there in January.  In fact, it's the first one that has come close to meeting the goals that I had set for the booth when I first started.  Looking at some of the numbers on some of the days, it should not have been possible, but somehow it happened.

Another curiosity is furniture.  This is the first month when furniture actually comprised a significant portion--almost half--of the total sales.  This is after having no significant furniture sales in December at all.  And, yet, December managed to come close to equaling November's sales, when there was some furniture sold.  So, based on the previously demonstrated strength of my smalls, it seems like a strong furniture month would really boost the final tally. Instead, my smalls sales actually decreased in January.

One of the things I've learned about sales is that your best days aren't made up solely of sales of your big ticket items.  Typically, the best days have a lot of sales of your smallest and cheapest items, combined with a lesser number of your mid-priced smalls, and a few of your higher-priced smalls, finished off with one (maybe two) truly large, truly big ticket item.  The YesterNook patterns are nowhere near this.

So, basically, what it boils down to is that YesterNook remains a curious beast that requires further study before I'll truly have a handle on it.  As long as I can keep having months like I had in January, I'm willing to keep on trying to solve the mystery.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Happy Hunting Grounds!

"Where do you find all this stuff?" 

I get that a lot.  Sometimes, it's from customers.  Sometimes, it's from other vendors.  I actually take it as a compliment, since I work kind of hard at keeping a wide variety of interesting stuff and at trying to have things that not everyone else does. 

It makes you stand out when you're in a mall that has space for up to 300 other vendors.  It also helps build a regular customer base.  I hear from customers and mall staff a lot that I have lots of people who come in regularly to shop my booth.  In fact, I will definitely hear from them if I haven't done a big restock in a while.  It's a lot of work to keep your fans happy.

Back to the question at hand, though.  I'm not one of these that will out and out share his sources with folks.  For one thing, there's too much competition for stuff.  For another, so many other dealers act like jerks when they're out getting junk that I really don't ever want to be associated with that in a source's mind.  One of my most unfavorite things to do is go to a dealer's night at a sale.  There's always someone there trying to out-grab and shove everyone else.  I just hate that kind of behavior.  Besides, at some of my sources, I've worked hard to build a relationship, and I don't want that spoiled by some jerky dealer.

On the other hand, if we don't share information that can help other people, what good are we?  That's just being selfish, and I don't like selfishness.  So, here's my answer to the question:


I'm not being facetious.  To quote a pair of my favorite philosophers, "There's treasure everywhere!"

Pic from here.

You just have to know how to spot it. 

Here are some examples of places I get stuff to sell:

Yard Sales-Moving Sales-Estate Sales-Garage Sales-Rummage Sales.  It kind of goes without saying, but I'd be remiss to not include them.  I don't have much to add here that I haven't already said (or that others haven't already said much better than I).

Auctions.  I don't do real, honest-to-god live auctions that much.  There's often a lot of grubby, grabby dealers there with deeper pockets than me fighting over the good stuff.  But, when I do go, I  tend to follow one simple line of attack:  Let them do as they will. I don't care.  

I'll let them slug it out over the big ticket items and be done with it.  Instead, I'll focus on the mixed lots and boxed lots of all kinds of stuff.  There's always a good variety and it's usually cheap.  Sometimes, the auctioneer even has to pile things up together to get even one bid.  I went to the auction when the local Salvation Army closed its thrifts and hauled off two truckloads of stuff (including some small furniture) for less than a hundred bucks.  And it sold and sold and sold and sold.  

Truth be told, there's always going to be a few clunker items in a mixed lot like that.  Just take them to Goodwill for the tax deduction and focus on the stuff you know you can sell.  When you get the whole lot for a couple of bucks, it's pretty easy to make money, and no great loss if you have to ditch a few items.

Sitting on a Curb.  It's no secret that I love junk set out week, and I'm not the only one.  But, if you're observant, there's lots of stuff available at other times as well.  Just pay attention when you're out, check it out really good, and you're bound to score.  Except during set out periods, it's not a source that's worth setting out on a deliberate trip for.  Rather it's one to be surprised by when you find it.  Tip:  Sometimes, if you pass through an area several hours after a neighborhood sale has ended, you can find houses where they've just hauled their leftovers to the curb.  Remember to be neat!  Another tip:  Check out college campuses around the end of the semester.

Other Sellers.  We buy off each other.  Yes, we do.  A few weeks ago, I bought a bunch of vintage priest's stoles from a vendor at the Peddlers Mall and took 'em straight to YesterNook.  Sold 'em the next day.  It's hard sometimes to keep your eyes open for a good buy when you're also supposed to be working.  It's easy for the other booths in your mall to become just part of the background, but it pays to keep your eyes open.  Rest assured that other dealers are doing it to you as well.  It's all a part of the loop.

Other Junk Stores.  I'm a vendor in two very different establishments in Louisville.  There are close to a dozen other vendor's malls in or near town, and another three or four that fall into the YesterNook category.  You bet I shop at 'em.  Particularly in the winter, when there aren't many yard sales.  There are a couple that I really like to it.  One because it is so well stocked and organized, and a couple because they're not.  Sometimes when you have to dig, you turn up all kinds of things!  It's that whole loop thing rearing it's cute little head again.

Something I'm really wanting to get into are the more "mom and pop" junk/hoarder stores.  There are a bunch in the west end of town.  Some folks I know swear by them.  Price-wise, they can be hit or miss though.  One in town is called "It Takes 2 Dollars or More."  Every time I pass that one, I think that someone's not really clear on the concept.  One day, I'll have to check it out.

Thrifts. This is another area where there's not too much to say, because it's all been covered, but should be mentioned anyway. There's not a week that goes by that I don't hit at least one thrift.  I know some dealers who are really down on the thrift, but the truth is that you can pretty reliably find decent stuff at a price you can re-sell from without much problem at most thrifts.

There are some thrifts in town that aren't worth regular visits, but every thrift is worth an occasional visit.  There are some I only pop into once or twice a year, if only to check and see if they've improved at all.  One of the things we lack here in town are smaller thrifts that aren't affiliated with the "big guys."  You know what I mean, community thrifts, church thrifts, and the like.  We have a couple, but not many.  Those are the ones where the good stuff is usually found.

Thrifts are especially useful in the winter when there just aren't any yard sales.

Regular Retail Outlets.  On those rare occasions when I do go into a regular retail store, I make a beeline for one particular area:  the clearance aisle!  Now, clearance sections are not what they used to be, but you can still find somethings that you can re-sell and make money from.  If you can get a new item at 75-90% off retail, you can always sell it for under retail and still turn a profit.  Post-holiday clearances are the best!  And not just Christmas, but also Halloween and Easter.

Friends, Neighbors, and Loved Ones.  Once people around you find out that you re-sell, they'll often save things for you or pass stuff on to you.  Sometimes, helping a friend move can get you dibs on the stuff they don't want to mess with.  This is kind of a tricky area to work with, but it can yield some awesome stuff.  Everybody has an item or two that they don't want/need, but is not enough to have a yard sale over or make a trip to Goodwill. 

What you have to do is determine exactly what they are offering.  Are they giving it?  Do they want you to buy it form them?  Do they want you to sell it for them?  I try to avoid selling for someone else as much as  I can.  It's just too much of a hassle, especially if the item takes a while to sell.

I do offer money when someone offers me an item, but you have to be careful there, too.  You want to be fair, but you also have to make money in the end.  If someone doesn't understand this and thinks you're low-balling them, you could harm your relationship, so tread carefully.  A lot of times, though, they're just looking to get rid of a couple of items and just want to help you out.

Friends of Friends, Neighbors, and Loved Ones.  The one true American Pickers style "pick" I've ever done was set up by a friend who helped me get into a relative's basement clean out. It was one of the coolest afternoons I've ever had.  Your interpersonal connections are one of the greatest resources that you've got.

Trash Cans and Dumpsters. Okay, I've never actually climbed into a dumpster and I don't go around randomly opening trash cans.  I'm just not that agile/bold.  But, when I see something on top or within reach--I GO FOR IT!

The other day, I was waiting at a light, when a guy got out of his SUV and threw something into a corner trash can.  It was either a large candle stick or a table leg.  I had to find out, so when the light changed, I stopped at the trash can and pulled it out.  It was a nice ceramic candle holder.  SCORE!

People Cleaning out Offices or Storerooms.  "What are you doing?"  "Cleaning out this room."  "What are you going to do with this stuff?"  "Pitch it."  "Mind if I take some of it?"  "Help yourself."  See how easy that was?  Among things I've gotten this way are flower vases and lots of the labels I use for pricing. 

And this list is by no means exhaustive.  I know dealers who work in construction and renovation and are given furniture and other items by their clients who are getting rid of it.  I'm a little old to be learning how to paint and hammer, so that's a closed route to me, but it seems to be a viable option for others.  I know others who have helped someone clean out a house and were given their choice of what was being tossed.  There are no hard and fast rules about sources.

In the end, what it takes to be a good junk-hunter is a willingness to always be on the prowl.  Always.  Stuff pops up where (and when) you least expect it.  Be willing to pull the car over on a whim and check something out.  You never know when it will pay off. 

After that, you have to have vision.  Can you see someone paying you for this item?  It doesn't matter if the people with you can't.  Creativity and a willingness to go so far outside the box that you end up selling the box will help, too.  If you stay in a rut, you're likely to miss many wonderful opportunities.

Finally, you have to be willing to fail.  Striking out is part of the game.  That awesome end table on the curb will turn out to have a missing leg.  The thrift will have noting but chipped polyresin fairy statues.  Everything at the yard sale will be overpriced.  Don't get discouraged.   Something wonderful could be around the corner.  The junking gods can be cruel sometimes, but they can also be very generous.

Give it a try and see what happens.  Happy hunting!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Monday Rambles

It was so nice last week, I rode my bike to class every day.  Hard to believe it's just now February.

I did notice something while I was riding, though.  This class was downtown, and the street I take to get there is always really busy.  Really busy.  But, once you get downtown, a couple of the cross streets ever have traffic on them.  We're talking major cross streets in downtown and no traffic.  How does that happen?

Anyway, I'm teaching at a site further out this week, but I'm still going to ride as much as I can.  I just need to leave home earlier.

So, with this post, I have now exceeded my output for all of 2004!   Watch out 2003, you're next!  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I should hit 700 posts sometime next week.  It's only taken almost 10 years to get there.

It was a good week for thrifting.  Found some cheap vintage Tupperware and yet more graphic novels at Goodwill.  I also found a popover pan in someone's curbside recycling on the way home from that Goodwill trip.  I was riding by on my bike, saw it, and thought "There is no way that's a metal popover pan.  It's got to be a plastic planter set or something."  So I turned the bike around and YES! it was the real deal.  A trip home and some warm soapy water later, and it's on its way to the booth.  You cannot plan these opportunities, but you have to take advantage of them when they (ahem!) pop up.

There has been an awful lot of stuff appearing on curbs of late, too.  Most of it is total crap, which is not surprising.  It is odd to see this much stuff when we're still four months away from our next curbside junk pick up period.

I just wish I knew what to do about the flood of Annalee dolls (ugly, creepy things that they are--sorry Shara!) that have hit all three branches of my favorite thrift.  I've bought everything I feel comfortable getting, but there's a lot left.  And everything I took to YesterNook has already sold out!

I'm just waaaaay out of my depth here and the prices (which may actually be quite reasonable) are more than I'm willing to pay when I'm waaaaay out of my depth.  I'm taking a "wait and see" approach, since this is a thrift that has monthly half off sales.  We'll see what happens.

Yard Sale Queen has a tutorial on removing price tags without damaging items.

Belated get well wishes and thoughts for continued recovery to Ms. Jackie of Ms. Jackie's Junque.  She had a rough time over the holidays.  I'm glad you're back on your feet and blogging and boothing again!  You should see the photos of her booths.  She can foof like nobody's business.

I'm always a little jealous of folks who can throw together these displays that look effortless.  Most of mine feel very labored and overworked.  Here's another one.  And, of course, the aforementioned Shara.

By the way, that big doll house from last week?  Gone!  Sold!  Outta there!  I was actually at the booth working when it happened, to boot.  I carried it out to the car for the woman that bought it.  My uncle was there too, and he told me later that the woman who bought it came there with the intent of buying it.  She already knew it was there and she wanted to get it.  Score another hit for Craigslist!

I also sold a set of candlestick holders that had been there so long it was giving me the blues.  It is amazing how an item can go from "Gee, this is so cool that I can't wait to put it out and see it in my booth with all the other wonderful merchandise" to "Geez, is this damn thing ever going to sell???" to "What was I thinking when I bought that?" to "I'm going to be buried with it.  I just know it!"  So, I've been doing the happy dance, needless to say.

Good, good sales at both sites lately.  I like tax season.  Of course, now that I'm selling furniture, I almost can't keep up with it!  I don't have a good place to store a couple of larger items in reserve.  I tried keeping them at one booth for the other one, but they sell when you do that.  Sometimes, my reserve sold out before the items I was reserving the reserve to replace did and then those items sold and there was no reserve!  This junk stuff is waaaaay more complicated than it looks, folks!

The weather has been so nice lately that I'm a little surprised that there haven't been any honest-to-god yard sales.  You know, the kind actually in the yard?  With cheap stuff?  Don't people know that there is a world of yard sale junkies out there going through withdrawal and jonesing for a fix who would gladly storm a yard and buy every last damn thing in it, just for the general principle of going to a sale in the dead of winter?  C'mon people!

Instead what we've been having are indoor benefit sales that promise the moon and then turn out to be really lame.  Seriously, if you're trying to raise money for a beloved cause, wouldn't you want to make sure that you had enough items for sale to actually, I don't know, raise some money?  

Pardon me.  Lack of good sales makes me grumpy.

One last boothing note, and I'll be gone.  The Peddlers Mall that I am in (and only that site) is reducing space rent to $99 monthly for an 8x10 space.  (Starting next month, existing vendors get the reduction, which is exciting to me!)  The price will be good through all of 2012, so if you've ever wanted to give this junking thing a try and you're in the Louisville area, this is a good time to do it.  Contact info at the link.  (And if you are interested, but don't know how to get started, I'll be doing several "how to" posts about selling in a vendor mall over the next few weeks.  There's never been a better time to get started.)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Welcome to Sunday Services

Eddie-tor's Note:  I'm starting an occasional feature (and, really, what about this blog isn't occasional?) here dedicated to various takes on matters theological.  Seems fitting for a Sunday.  It's the closest to "real" church I get these days.  Enjoy.

Welcome to the First Ed-boro Episcabaptecostalicterian Church of God in Jehovah Jesus Christ of Saint Margaret-Mary-Vladimir-Athanasius-Bartholomew in Eternal Holiness and Mercy!  We're glad you decided to join us today.  If you're new to our congregation, the routine is simple:  Stand when everyone else stands.  Sit when they sit.  Put money in the plate when it passes.  You'll fit right in!

Today is a special service here at FEECGJJCSM-M-V-A-BEHM!  We have a guest evangelist this morning.  The Right-Left Reverend Iris Dement, who is here with a lesson on forgiveness.  Take away, Rev. Iris!

And, as a special bonus, here's Rev. Iris on the afterlife:

And that's it this week from First Ed-boro!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

What I'm Thinking

Eddie-tor's Note:  This is the last in a series on making deals at yard sales.

Probably one of the most common misconceptions about people who want to bargain at yard sales is that they are all looking to somehow put one over on the seller, usually in order to make a hefty profit on eBay.

The truth is, though, unless someone comes right out and tells you that's what they're doing, you have no way of knowing for sure.  There are multiple reasons someone might offer to bargain with a seller, not the least of which is that it's a yard sale!!

Back in the days before I was a seller, when I pretty much yard saled for the fun of it, I used to have a variety of reasons why I might offer a lower price on something:

"I really want this, but that's too much to ask for it."

"You could buy a new one for cheaper than that."

"I'm down to my last five dollars, and there are still a couple more sales to hit.  Wonder if they'd take a little less for it?"

"I want all of them!  But I can't pay that price and get them all."

"Seriously?  That can't be a real price for that."

Basically, it all revolved around three factors:  the asking price being a bit much, my wanting the item, and the amount of money in my pocket.  And I honestly believe that those are the same factors influencing most people who make offers at sales, especially folks on fixed incomes or lower incomes who are actually looking for more affordable alternatives to regular retail.

Of course, as a re-seller, my thoughts have changed a little, but not much:

"Oooo.  Can't make any money at that price."

"Seriously?  That can't be a real price for that."

"C'mon.  There's nowhere in the secondhand market you could get that amount for that thing."

"Condition does matter when you price something."

"This is great stuff.  I'd like to get a lot of it.  Wonder if they'd work with me if I loaded up?"

"I'm down to my last twenty bucks and still have a couple more sales to hit.  Wonder if they'd take a little less for it?"

"That price is just a hair above what I can pay and still make a profit.  Wonder if I can get a haircut for it?"

"Really? I sell those for half that price and still can't get rid of them.  Good luck with that!"

Okay, sometimes it's sarcastic, but I'm never, ever thinking:  "Gee, if can get them to take a quarter for this, I'll make a killing at their expense!"

For me, bargaining is a part of what I do.  It's a part of what I have to do too keep my shelves stocked and my sales up.  But I don't view it as making money off someone else.  And I never see it as a seller's job to make my business profitable.  (Another accusation I hear sometimes.)  I always look at it and treat it like it's a compromise on both parts.  Me getting enough off that I can re-sell for a small profit and them getting enough of their asking price that they are satisfied with the deal.  It doesn't do anyone any good to take any other approach.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Fun Finds: You Gotta Have Heart!

I found this one at a thrift over the weekend.  While I was primarily there looking for furniture, I could not pass this baby up.

I mean seriously, Catholic Saint Bingo?  Of  course I'm getting it!  (Although why they just didn't call it "Saint" instead of "Heart" is beyond me.  It's got the right amount of letters!)

The rules are kind of odd though.  The caller has so many different ways to call that it seems a little like overkill.  I think it should have a "confessional" box that you shake until a little plastic figure of a saint falls out, which is then called out.

Honestly, it looks like one of those things someone thought up because they wanted to come up with something "good for kids" to play.  Still, the whole idea is a bit of a hoot.  I'd love to be in a huge bingo hall and hear people calling out "Olaf!"  "Cunegund!"  "Venerable Bede!"  It would be a blast!

That actually reminds me of a story about my mom.  When I was a kid, she decided that when she got to heaven, she wanted the job of calling out the names of people to get in line and be checked out to see if they got in or not.  Deciding that she had a better shot of getting this job if she practiced at it before she got there, she walked around the house for a couple of weeks shouting "Nahum!"  "Habakkuk!"  "Esther!" every so often.  It was never boring at my house, let me tell you.

My only question now is whether I should put it with my other games, in my religion section, or in my Valentine's Display?

What would you do?