Skip to main content

Easy Money, The Myth

My mom was an antiques dealer--sort of like those two guys on that reality show on the History Channel.
 http://www.history.com/shows/american-pickers
I can tell you from here that bike is not worth it.
 http://www.inherited-values.com/2010/01/american-pickers/ 
Mom had a great eye for really good stuff--collectible china, antique lace, pop art, weird, collectible dolls and toys, jewelry, artisan rugs, coins, watches, marble, novelty piggy banks, antique slot and pachinko machines, wood Norwegian racing sailboats, vintage juke boxes, neon beer signs and other beer-related advertising, roll-top desks, oil portraits of strangers, native American craft, creepy, 19th century German children's books, taxidermied creatures, etc.

I don't think my mother made that much money as an antiques dealer, though she would have made an awesome subject for a reality show. Over the course of my childhood, it became easier and easier for her to lavish time acquiring stuff and more and more difficult for her to get rid of it. This was a mystery to me then. But I'm starting to understand that selling stuff is a lot more difficult than it looks.

eBay has been pretty good to me. I have a great eye for cloth and cut, drape and finish. The hunting and gathering is the fun part. But the money isn't easy. After the thrill of the hunt, as every good cave woman knows, there's the more tedious process of culling and cleaning and putting things on racks to dry. I do a careful inspection and treatment of stains, snags, tears, fraying, pilling, soil, fading, rust, stretching, stink. I pile things into the dry cleaner's with mega coupons.
I organize all items according to season and occasion then spend 2-3 days photographing them: front, back, details, individually and then with other items for combined shipping ideas.
Wolf in a pair of Coach espadrille wedges size 6

Wolf in Donald J. Pliner cork platforms size 6.5
Shoes get polished, conditioned and stuffed with tissue, soles get scrubbed. Sometimes I'll take them to get re-heeled or the soles re-stitched.Shoes are photographed front, top, side, back soles, detail and on a foot. Sometimes I have to use my son's little feet or my neighbor's big feet to go into the sizes I don't fit in.
Everything is measured and listed on eBay with its little stories, histories, provenances--as well as all imperfections, snags, pills, fading, bent elastic waistbands, loose buttons, scuff marks, goofy zippers that don't quite work, . And, since it is second hand, I believe that everyone should get a good deal--whether it's a Chanel blouse or a cowboy-dusted pair of vintage Tony Lama's--so I don't mark it up too much. And I always do auction style so that buyers can determine what something is worth to them.
Everything is shipped out in pretty little white envelopes.
My family sees only that I found a pair of Chanel sandals for 5.99 and sold them for $90.00. Easy money. (To say nothing of the Marc Jacobs capris pants, the Notify Jeans, the Cynthia Vincent slacks or the Roberto Cavalli trousers I bought for 3.49 each or the Alba sandals, size 6.5 I paid $15.00 for and can't sell to save my life!)
It's actually a bit like my old writer's life--everyone thinks they could write a novel. The ones who actually do are surprised at how much more difficult it is than it looks. I used to always run into people at cocktail parties who said, "My life could be a novel. Tell you what--I'll tell you my story, you write it and we'll split the profits."
Now, it's: "I've got some great clothes to sell on eBay. Tell you what--you list them and we'll split the profits."
Write your own stories. List your own stuff.

Comments

  1. i would never presume to think i could write a novel! This doesn't sound like much fun, so just as well i can't figure ebay out!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Change Your Tone!!

I know I have a "unique voice."
But I can count on one hand how many people I know who can stand listening to their own voice. (That is not saying there aren't those guys who seem to love talking just to hear the sound of their own voice; but if you literally played it back to them--they'd cringe and crawl under the sofa.)
When I was in the 3rd grade, I was chosen to be in some experimental speech/voice therapy at our school. They tried for many weeks to raise the pitch of my voice by having me go up and down the do-re-mi scales until I hit one that they thought sounded pleasing. I had a deep, true contralto voice somewhere a few notes below "do." With the sort of rasping, old-chain-smoker undertones of a freckled Billie Holiday. The experimenters settled on "fa." For 20 minutes three times a week, I got to leave Ms. Foster's third grade classroom and go to the convent living room where I would sing "do-re-mi-fa" and say and sing eve…

The Lost Designer of the 80's

Claude Barthelemy seems to have been one of those if-you-needed-to-ask-you-didn't-need-to-know designers. In the '80's, he was listed as a young, hot couturier alongside go-the-distance blue chips like Karl Lagerfeld and Lanvin with his oversized sweaters, minis, leggings and fur-trimmed stoles. Exclusive stores carried his soft-edged jackets to shoppers in the know.

And then what happened? His pleated skirts, intarsia sweaters, and naughty, zippered wool catsuits still fetch high prices in vintage world and any dealer with his elegantly simple, Gallic tag on her racks raises a flutter in second-hand seekers. He designed for Barbie, for heaven's sake! But the designer himself, who seems to have cut a meteoric swath across the runways and then...?

So what's the story with this wasp-waisted pleated skirt? I wondered what else this woman could have dropped off on her Goodwill drive-by--a Chanel original? A couture Pucci? Surely someone this linked in wouldn't just h…

5 "Thrift Store Find" DIY Craft Projects They Keep Showing, for Things You Haven't Been Able to Find at Thriftstores Since 1987.

Me love Pinterest.
I know it's all a big, fantastic lie, but like every other pretty magazine catering to our fantasies before it, it makes us feel like we can achieve the same, heavily worked-over, fantastically styled, filtered, and photo-shopped perfection in our own lives. And sometimes that's enough.

But as a professional builder of ridiculous, up-cycled things, and a veteran thrifter (I can show you the scars!), some of these Pinterest DIY are just a parade of despair, false promises and dashed hopes. There's no call for that.


1. Vintage Suitcase Crafts:

Not only is this type of vintage suitcase VERY rare at your garden variety thrift store, follow this link to see how much rather highly involved work went into it.


2. Stuff made with old "thrift store" silverware.


Here's what you'd hope to find:












Here's what you're most likely to find: Oh, this stainless steel crap will bend alright--most of it already has the scars of the church community cen…