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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

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