Friday, February 29, 2008

Me & Auction Wally - Part Two

My podcast interview with Auction Wally went so well last week that we are doing another one! This time we are going to give tips on resources, online tools, researching, and I think I am also going to talk about Etsy and some of the awesome shops I've found on the Etsy Vintage Community site. And I'm sure eBay will come up too, that is an endless topic if I ever saw one!

The show will air live at 8pm eastern time on Monday, March 3rd. Feel free to call in! I guess we had several callers on the last one, but only one got through, the super sweet Danna Crawford from - she was so complimentary about my eBay store she had me blushing!

Stay tuned! ;)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hey eBay, you're not the boss of me!

I realize that title makes me sound like a spoiled 6 year old, but it expresses my current attitude so well I couldn't resist...

I let the new policies over at eBay throw me for a loop, I let them make me nervous, hell - I even let them scare me, for brief moments. But, I've officially broken on through to the other side, and remembered why I started my own business in the first place - to be my own boss. It's that simple.

In November of 2006 the newspaper I worked for for 10 years called us into a meeting and told us that they had decided to outsource the work of the entire department to India, effective April 1st, 2007. 10 years of work down the drain, in one 15 minute meeting given by a big wig I had never seen before.

I decided I was done. If my fate was going to be in someone's hands, I wanted it to be my own. No more depending on the whims of a corporate entity, no more having the rug pulled out from under me because it would help someone else's bottom line.

Sound familiar? It is exactly the situation that eBay has tried to put me in - and I'm not going to let it happen. I pay them for a service - I don't work for them. eBay isn't my boss!

So - I'm going to keep selling internationally. eBay's star system doesn't control my business, and I am not going to let it close an avenue for sales that I really need.

I also put this graphic into my new auction template:

I figured if eBay isn't going to educate my buyers about how the star system really affects a seller's standing, then I will. I am also working on an insert that I will include in my packages that has that graphic, as well as information about my return policy, my contact information, and links to my websites and other online shop(s).

I'm the boss! Say it with me now. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This Week's Estate Sale Booty

I was able to go to two estate sales on Saturday, I wanted to go back to one of them for half off day on Sunday, but I didn't make it out of bed in time. It's alright though, two sales in one weekend in the middle of winter is like a dream, and I got plenty of cool stuff! (Click the photos to see their super sized versions.)

Look at these liquor bottles! They are marked with "TCW Co USA". I just love their mod look and they have their original cork stoppers! The apothecary jar with its original box behind them is Federal Glass, and the never used Bundt cake pan is from Nordic Ware.

I'm totally in love with the Kromex ice bucket, it just needs cleaned up and it will be perfect. The tissue box is metal, from one of my favorites, Ransburg.

I had to give you a close up shot of the Dolly Toy Co. cardboard totem pole, and the very 60's painted key holder.

I was surprised to find the never used Pyrex casserole in a basket holder, I think those baskets are kind of hard to come by. Of course original boxes are always a big bonus too.

Owls! The mug is Otagiri from Japan, the ceramic guy is actually a hanging lantern, I think you put a candle inside.

The green planter is marked Haeger, the huge - and heavy! - striped planter is marked 1870 USA. The whole USA mark thing drives me insane - so many pottery companies marked just USA it makes it really hard to find out the actual maker. I need to break down and buy a good guide.

I found cashmere! I love finding cashmere. Especially a twin sweater set, in pretty pretty blue! The darker blue sweater is 100% wool. I need to clean them up - anyone have tips on cleaning dusty and/or linty wool and cashmere?

I think these are tea towels, but I'm not totally sure. The one on the left is a souvenir from South Wales with really kitchy map graphics, the other one has great Colonial style designs and is marked Wert.

I couldn't pass up this western themed scarf, you certainly don't see something like that every day...

I debated about the red painted aluminum covered cake plate, it is definitely more on the shabby end of the condition scale, but that graphic won me over. I am hoping it will improve with a good cleaning, wish me luck! The Christmas fabric potholders (4 total) I think are handmade, they are so great! That fabric is just too perfect.

These mugs are song themed, there are music notes and lyrics on their backs. Aren't those graphics just too cute? Mr. Moustache there is quite the player!

I got a set of Red Wing Pottery dishes, I know some Red Wing is very collectible. They aren't in the greatest condition, lots of scratches, but the pattern is pretty, and the price was right so I figured I would give them a shot!

I got some other things I didn't get photos of... some vintage crafting books, a couple of 1960's bookcase games, a few vintage children's books, a big stack of 1970's Mother Earth News magazines, a big stack of Orchids Magazine back issues, and a handful of things I got on my last couple of thrift store trips.

I've been a happy shopper lately! It makes me antsy for Spring, I miss my garage sales!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I added an RSS feed - I know, I'm behind.

I realize the rest of the planet has been hip to this RSS feed deal for some time now. It's been on my list of things to figure out, and finally tonight I signed up with Feedburner and figured out how to add the subscribe link to the sidebar. I added a general subscription link, and also a Google Reader link, which I am also finally learning how to use. Aren't you proud of me?

If you haven't tried Google Reader out yet, give it a shot, it's turning out to be surprisingly easy. I'm going to try to add other blogs to my Reader right now, wish me luck!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Holy Grail Thrift Scores

What is a Holy Grail thrift score, you might be asking? It is finally finding that one specific item that you have been searching for for months, or even years... It is finding that piece that you need for your collection, at a price you can't believe, let alone turn down... It is finding that treasured thing your little brother destroyed when you were 8, that you never thought you would ever see again... It is finding that treasure you have been eyeing on eBay for months, and at a way better price...

Get the idea? They are the juice that keep us getting up at the butt crack of dawn to hit the sales, and that make us devoted regulars at our thrift stores and junk shops, no matter how many times we come home empty handed. Just one Holy Grail score will keep a thrifter energized for months!

I had a great thrifting day today, with 3 - yes, 3! - Holy Grail scores. Rare indeed.

#1 - 1961 Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book

I've been looking at 50's and 60's BH&G books on eBay for the last couple of months, but haven't bought any because, well, I'm cheap. I want them so I can write posts about vintage style interior decorating, with examples that are authentically vintage, not just vintage inspired.

I popped into the Cat Welfare indoor garage sale that is only open on Saturdays. Once again my curiosity led me in the right direction, because I saw this on a shelf at and thought, hey, what is that?

I flipped it over, and was so surprised! Here was a BH&G decorating book, but it didn't look like any of the ones I have seen on eBay. It is gold, with a gold case! So swanky - and it is in excellent condition too, which is always a bonus. I'm excited to start posting some scans, stay tuned!

#2 - L.M. Montgomery Paperback Books

L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors. Her Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon books were on heavy rotation when I was younger, my paperbacks are totally tattered but I would never replace them! I have been wanting to fill out my collection though, and today I found seven books of hers that I didn't have! They were 50 cents each, a total steal.

The only bummer is I left #8 from the Anne series - Rilla of Ingleside - behind, thinking I already had it, but I don't. I am going to go back next weekend and see if it is still there!

#3 - Louisa May Alcott Paperback Books

Right next to the L.M. Montgomery books were seven Lousia May Alcott books that I didn't already have. She is another one of my favorite authors, and I had been hoping to add more of her books to my collection too. Now I just need to find all the movie versions of Little Women!

What are the odds of 14 books I want being on a shelf right next to one another like that? Amazing. And then add the BH&G book into the mix, that is an unbelievable day in one little shop!

I have one other score to share, from Volunteers of America thrift. I got a set of eight of these cool glasses with white grid patterns on them, six I am going to sell, but I am keeping two. I know, I know, I need to sell, not keep... but they make such a cute match with these 2 snowflake glasses that I got at an estate sale:

See? How could I not keep them? ;)

I am going back to an estate sale I hit this morning tomorrow, everything is half off so I am hoping something worth having is left. I bought some stuff there today for 25% off, and left some interesting things behind because they were too expensive. Either they will be gone, or I will be happy!

I will try to post a few photos of my scores tomorrow when I get back. I hit another sale this morning that was at 1/2 off, so I have some stuff to share from that one too. I got some cool stuff, and it felt so good to fill up my back seat with goodies again!

eBay Changes = Even More Stress!

It's been a roller coaster ride of a week in eBayland, so much so that I barely have the energy to write about it. But, I will, because I think I need to vent a little... repressing these kinds of things is bad for you, right?

Sales this week have been excellent - either the buyers didn't get the memo about the boycott, or some of my competition did... I don't know. Whatever the reason, we have a lot to be happy about on the sales front. Add to that my really fun podcast interview with Auction Wally (more on that subject later!) on Tuesday, and you have quite a happy Mitzi - for the first part of the week.

Then yesterday rolled around. I received glowing positive feedback from an international buyer, and at the same time my shipping rate star rating fell from a 4.6 to a 4.5. Doesn't seem like something that should be that big of a deal, does it?

Well, it knocked me out of getting the new 5% discount on my final value fees for having all my ratings at 4.6 or higher, and it put me just one point away from losing my Powerseller status come July when the new rules for the Powerseller program take effect. Losing my Powerseller status due to my detailed seller ratings would mean being disadvantaged in the new Best Match default search, and losing the extra PayPal protection that is now provided for Powersellers.

The really upsetting part is that this buyer probably didn't leave me a really bad rating, she just didn't leave me a 5. I heard in a webinar about the eBay changes a couple of weeks ago that on average, it has been found that international buyers leave .5 lower on shipping charge stars than US buyers do.

Why? It's expensive to ship overseas. If you want any kind of coverage you have to use Global Priority, because it has online tracking, where the cheaper 1st Class International does not. And, if the item has any kind of value at all, you need to have insurance because of the increased risk of lost packages. There are also the duty fees - those can be very high, and if it makes the buyer grumpy, they can take it out on you in your rating.

When the eBay advisors that gave the webinar I listened to suggested not selling internationally if you were worried about your shipping charge star rating, I gave it a bit of thought but decided I didn't want to lose the money international sales bring in every month.

Then we got dinged.

Will and I have both been so upset over this entire situation over the last couple of days that we have barely gotten anything done. I wasted a lot of time yesterday trying to figure out a way to find out what percentage of my sales are international without having to go through my sales one by one. I didn't find a way.

We are guessing that it is 25% or less, and we have been discussing the possibility of not offering international on our main selling ID anymore... we could list items we thought would do well overseas on a different account. The trouble is knowing what will end up doing well - some things I have an idea about, but most of the time I wouldn't really be able to tell.

What I am leaning towards right now is going ahead and revising all of my store listings to no international. If it hurts too much, we can always add it back into our listings later. What we can't afford is to lose one more point on that damn star rating!

As I go through the store listings I am going to move some things into my Etsy store, and there is a good possibility that we will be opening a bookstore on BuyItSellIt or eCrater in the near future too. I love eBay, and I'm not trying to leave eBay... but I am feeling the pinch now, I have to do what is best for my business... and my sanity!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Etsy = Love

I know I haven't been blogging much lately, I've been so busy! I've been trying to put some real time into my Etsy shop, and I'm happy to report that I've added some new items, and it's starting to look like a real store!

So far I am really loving Etsy. I haven't made any sales yet, but I love the community feel, and I love being part of an up and coming site. It is definitely a big part of my business plan for 2008.

I also joined a community called the Etsy Vintage Buyer and Seller Community. It seems to be full of really cool and committed vintage sellers, and buyers are welcome too. Since so much attention is focused on the handmade side of Etsy, I am excited to support a community for the Etsy loving vintage geeks!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Radio show is tomorrow night!

I had a nice chat on the phone with Auction Wally yesterday, he is a really great guy and I think the radio show tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun! He sent me a code snippet that should allow you to listen to the show from right here on my blog - gotta love the modern technology! ;) Tune in at 8pm Tuesday night!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Auction Promo Time Again!

Hi everyone, lots of new things at auction this week, including the UK size 5 (US size 7-8) Dr. Marten 10 Eye Black Boots that I can't believe I am parting with! Also up are the vintage Star Trek miniatures that I literally had to pry from my boyfriends hands, a set of Dansk Arabesque dishes, Pyrex, Anchor Hocking, and other vintage glassware, an awesome pair of vintage framed paint by number paintings of roses, a few framed needlepoints, some super cute chalkware fish (a must have for any retro bathroom!), and lots more. Click here to check it out!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm going to be on Blog Talk Radio!

How's this for a surprise... I've barely recovered from the shock of being interviewed for the CNN article, and now I get an email from Auction Wally saying he wants to interview me on his podcast!

Blog Talk Radio is a great site with hundreds of podcasts, I use the Ziepod player to subscribe and listen, but you can go directly to Auction Wally's page and listen from there as well.

The show is this coming Tuesday, Feb. 19th at 8:00 pm eastern time. If you want to call in and talk to us on the show, the number is (646) 378-1561. We are going to talk about the blog, vintage collectibles, eBay, and who knows what else.

I've never been on the radio before, I am excited and nervous!

Click here to listen!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You've Made My Day!

Pam over at Retro Renovation just made my day by giving me the - wait for it - You Make My Day Award! I feel so loved. Here are the 5 blogs I am passing the award on to:

Black Olives On My Fingertips
Gold Country Girls
Just A Modern Guy

Here are the obligatory “rules” that go with these sorts of posts…
The ‘you make my day award’ works like this:
1) Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make me think and/or make my day
2) Acknowledge the post of the award giver
3) Tell the award winners that they have won by commenting on their blogs with the news!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vintage Cookbook Illustrations

(This post was originally written as a guest post for one of my favorite blogs, Ephemera, but all the illustrations wouldn't fit into the layout of Marty's blog, so we decided it would be best for me to post it here in its entirety instead.)

I was lucky enough to score a few vintage cookbooks, and since I just bought a new scanner, I decided to give it a try and scan some of the illustrations.

I've seen a lot of people talk about the food in vintage cookbooks, James Lileks and his Gallery of Regrettable Food comes to mind... but I haven't seen much about the quirky illustrations that are often found along side many of the tempting photos of mystery meat casserole. So, here are just a few of my favorites...

From the 1961 Cutco Cook Book (for sale in my store!) - Illustrator Frank Marcello has some interesting views of our friend the pig:

This drunk piggy is next to a recipe for Barbecued Ham Steaks that calls for cider. Apparently his part in the recipe didn't discourage him too much... or maybe he was so distraught he decided to try to dull the pain?

This little piggy is a bit more bohemian, lounging next to a recipe for Smoked Ham.

This guy is next to a recipe for Baked Ham. I think someone is trying to pull a fast one on him, telling him how being part of a Baked Ham recipe is just like winning a fabulous beach vacation!

Our friend Frank also has some interesting depictions of women in this book... plain old cooking isn't exciting enough for these modern suburban women!

Here's the housewife who always wanted to be a doctor, but married one instead. Who cares if it's just a meat thermometer, at least she gets to wear scrubs!

This housewife's husband thinks her creativity is a silly waste - wouldn't her time be spent better in the kitchen, making him a turkey? Again, at least she gets to wear the outfit, even if she is just painting on a glaze instead of creating the next modern masterpiece.

From the 1957 Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls - Illustrator Gloria Kamen. I just love these little drawings, not too many snarky things I can say about them really! The kids are cute and wholesome, and the retro kitchenware she includes does a vintage geek's heart good:

Where can I find this breakfast set? I NEED it.

Again breakfast is done up right with an awesome atomic pitcher, mug and plate set. I love it so much, I can't even really worry about how there is a bird cage directly over the table. The table with food on it.

Ahhh, the good old days where a kid could be happy with a paper bag mask instead of a $100 Darth Vader helmet. Good times!

Of course I only scratched the surface of the cute illustrations in these books, but a girl only has so much time for scanning... I'm sure that more is to come though, now that I know how to work my new scanner!

And a few more that I didn't include in the original post, but are still, well, awesome:

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

This week's auction promo...

While we didn't get as much listed this week as we wanted to, we did post several extra cool things, including the striped dishes I showed you several weeks ago! You know you loved those, you can't deny it... I let myself keep a yellow mug since it didn't have a mate, it earned a place on the shelf in my kitchen!

I also wanted to show you these:

They are Art Deco reverse painted picture frames! My dad actually scored these for me at an auction, from what I could find out in my research they are probably from the 30's, and are very collectible! Go Dad! (He is so cute when I sell something he found for me, he gets all shocked and happy, I swear if they had a computer he would be hooked on eBay just like I am...)

I also wanted to quote a couple paragraphs that I wrote about the eBay situation to my store newsletter subscribers:

"Honestly, I've spent a lot of time lately trying to keep up with the eBay news, and to look into the alternative venues that are being discussed on the boards and the blogs. The entire situation is so complicated! I keep dreaming about having a baby and it being in danger, dying, or dead. I'm assuming the baby represents my business - I always say I didn't have a kid, I had a business instead. ;)

There is good reason to be anxious - the changes they are making are big ones, and that kind of change is always difficult. I'm prepared to weather the storm, and I'm interested to see how things are going to go. Hopefully, once everything settles down, the marketplace really will change for the better - for both the sellers and our customers.

I am learning one lesson though, the same lesson that I think is hitting a lot of us sellers upside the head with a vengeance - don't put all of your eggs in one basket. I got the message, and I am figuring out a way to spread my inventory out more. I'll keep you all posted for sure!"

This is how I am feeling about things so far... how are the rest of you eBayers holding up?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wow - CNN is all over the eBay insanity....

Here is another article from CNN/Fortune, this time about the controversial new policy over at PayPal where they have given themselves the right to hold payments for up to 21 days on "high risk" transactions.

Here is another article profiling 5 businesses who have ditched eBay altogether.

And finally, one about the upcoming strike - February 18-25, if you are interested. ;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

CNN Article - Part Deux

CNN published a new article about eBay today titled "eBay Rivals Circle Vulnerable Auctions Kingpin". It covers the sellers that are leaving, or trying to leave, the eBay marketplace, and where they are going. Quite interesting reading!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The return of Wish Book Web!

I got a surprising email the other day from Jason, Mr. Wish Book Web himself! Remember my last post fawning all over his amazing vintage catalog site? Well apparently he saw it, and wrote to tell me they added new catalogs!

Jason says:

"It's so gratifying to read about how much fun people are having with the site, and it's especially cool to see positive reviews and such. That really is the end goal of all of this -- to make these
old catalogs easy to access and enjoy. It came about because I was hoping that something like it existed. When I found it didn't, I figured I'd give it a try. Knowing that people are getting use out of it makes the grueling task of scanning the things worthwhile.

My desire and ambition is that it we'll keep adding catalogs to the site, and eventually make it text-searchable, and all the other wonderful things that should be possible."

The forum on the site is also back up and working, but only has a few posts. Maybe we should all sign up over there and show Jason we care?

Of course I haven't had time to look at all the new stuff yet, so I concentrated on checking out the pre-1945 Sears and Spiegel catalogs. I am now suddenly and totally in love with 40's pumps and slippers/house shoes:

There is just something slightly more classy and feminine about these than my current pair of slippers:

I also found the robes and stockings I would wear with my new elegant slippers:

See how much fun this site can be? I hope to be able to spend some more time over there later this week, I will report back then on what I fall in love with next...