Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Catching Up

Hundreds of my readers have asked me why I am not blogging much anymore.  OK, maybe not hundreds, but definitely tens of my readers.  OK, it was only Ella that asked, but the answer is that I do most of my writing at work, but my duties have changed, and I have less “free” time to put digital pen to paper.  C’est la vie.

Of course, just because I am not writing doesn’t mean that stuff ain’t happening. 

For the past several weeks, Ella and I have been fretting because her “geek tool,” also known as her Dell PDA with Socket scanner, was missing.  We use our “geek tools” to identify sellable media, and we’ll need both of them when the local book sale opens its doors this week.  Thankfully, though, I finally found it this morning buried in a tote of other stuff.

Crisis averted.

Speaking of the book sale, I’ve written many blogs over the last couple of years trying to convey the excitement of the first day, which is dominated primarily by book dealers, like me, from all over the state.  I both dread and anticipate it, and always breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over.  However, the sights, sounds and fistfights over $200 textbooks (OK, I made that one up) make it the social event of the bookseller season.

Sales have been lackluster across the board for us lately.  Thankfully, yard sale season is in full bloom, and we are traveling 100 plus miles each Saturday sourcing inventory.  This past Saturday, I spotted four huge boxes full of vintage caps at a sale.   They were tagged $.50 each, but the woman in charge said they would let them all go for $25.  I saw a John Deere cap, and figured I could probably get my money back just on that one cap, but still offered only $10 for the lot.   The woman’s husband, to whom the caps belonged, happened to be walking up, and said, “Sold!”

Once I got the caps home, I was unhappy to find that most of them, including the John Deere, had dry rotted, and were falling apart.  I did manage to salvage a few, including this Gilley’s cap, which sold on the same day that I listed it for $15.  Even with the free shipping, I recouped my investment, and still have some to list and sell.

For you Northerners or non-lovers of country music, Gilley's was a honky tonk bar founded in 1971 by country singer Mickey Gilley in Pasadena, TX. It was the central location in the 1980 movie, Urban Cowboy.  This is the second time that I have found and sold a Gilley’s cap, both to the same collector who always leaves this note:

Hi. I'm a collector so please let me know if you have any more Gilley's, Urban Cowboy, Johnny Lee's Club, Nesadel Club or Frontier Hotel Las Vegas items, maybe we can make a deal.

So, keep Gilley’s merchandise in mind as you are out thrifting.

Over at the antique mall, keeping our three booths stocked has become a headache at times.  We sell mostly small items, both antique and collectible, but finding such merchandise is hit and miss, given the competition in the area.   Our routine is to find stuff on the weekend, price and tag on Monday through Wednesday, and then merchandise the booths on Thursday evening in time for the Friday and weekend crowds. 

Ella, bless her, does most of the grunt work (i.e., printing stickers and tagging items), while I am in charge of figuring out prices.  My biggest fear is to price something valuable too low, leaving money on the table.  Case in point, we found a pair of nonworking, heavy wind-up table clocks for $5.  I couldn’t find a maker’s mark, and really had no idea of their value.  So, since they didn’t work, I priced them at $20 each.  We took them over to the antique mall, put them in one booth, and then went to work on our second booth.  When we doubled back to the original booth, the clocks were gone.  They sold in less than 15 minutes.  While we obviously made money on the deal, I imagine that we could have made more if I had exercised a little more due diligence.

And that’s another issue, making money.  Some months, of course, are better than others, while other months leave us on the edge of our seats as to whether or not we will make rent.  Just making rent is not being successful, although I am always happy not to have to pay any more to the mall.

Our warehouse is a mess right now, mainly because we don’t have a lot of time to devote to it.  Ella planned to have a yard sale out of the back last month, but the threat of rain postponed it.  She tentatively is planning to have one Memorial Day weekend.  Now, I know some of you think that holiday weekends aren’t great for sales, and I won’t argue that point.  However, Ella’s rationale, and I see some merit in it, is that since there will be fewer sales that weekend, more people will come to ours to get their weekly thrifting fix.  Plus, we’ll have a lot of cool stuff.

We’re still attending auctions when we can, although our local auction house has closed.  We now have to drive at least an hour to get to the nearest one on Saturday evening.  After spending at least four hours on Saturday morning driving to sales, the prospect of spending another two hours (there and back) in the van isn’t very appealing.  Still, I know that auctions can provide interesting inventory, both for online sales and our booths, so I really have to stop being so lazy.

To wrap up this overly long post, I’d like to remember Prince, one of the few pop stars who understand the thrifting lifestyle.  May we all find raspberry berets, the kind you find in a second hand store.