If you get as excited as I do when treasure hunting, you need to be extra wary about your selections. It’s easy to get carried away with a “find” and overlook flaws that diminish value. You may feel rushed because there are other eager shoppers on all sides. Slow down and inspect the merchandise!
Here’s a short guide to help you use your five senses to become a savvy reseller:
Odors are a bane to buyers and can be difficult to remove. Take note when you enter a home and be on guard if you detect mildew or smoke—common culprits that can destroy a desirable item. Airing and washing items can sometimes eliminate smells but this involves time and hassle and may not be satisfactory. Cat urine is particularly difficult to remove and noxious to the nostrils (no offense to felines intended). There is also a rather mysterious odor that tends to creep into the homes of the elderly. If something stinks, trust your instincts and rest assured it will smell even worse when you remove the item from its environment, which often masks much of the smell. Pass on moldy or musty items—these odors spread when stored with pristine inventory.
Listen to the chatter at sales. You may be able to pick up on history of items or gain insight into demand. Some sellers will have expertise to share, so it doesn’t hurt to inquire. Another way you can use your ears is when encountering mechanical items. If you hear something rattling around inside when you give it a gentle shake, you may be dealing with a broken thing-a-ma-jig. You can also improve your purchase decisions by listening to what your gut is telling you. If your inner voice says something is overpriced, negotiate or pass it by. If you’re being too sentimental, check your emotions at the door.
I’m using poetic license to invoke this “sense”—my true meaning refers to aesthetics. Is your taste in line with what’s popular? Are you good at uncovering rare and coveted niche items? The best shoppers have a knack for identifying cool stuff that people want right now. You can’t always predict what will sell, but if you keep an eye on the marketplace, you can improve your ability to spot hot items in high demand.
May fortune favor you as you hone your senses in the exciting field of treasure hunting. Good luck!
There are plenty of reasons to justify investments in previously adored merchandise. Fortify your decisions to choose used with these brilliant bits of truth.
1. Be unique.
If you opt to wear vintage, are you ever at risk for cookie-cutter couture? Au contraire, my dear—you demonstrate your independence and flair. You can set yourself apart from the crowd by reaching back in time to reclaim and celebrate fashion, home decor and collectibles of all kinds. When you fill your home with vintage treasures, guests will ooh and aah as they walk down memory lane. You can mix and match centuries while creating a look that's uniquely yours.
2. Get hand-crafted quality.
The term "vintage" covers a lot of turf, but it often spells higher quality. For instance, back in the day, American-made merchandise was prized around the world for its workmanship.
Industrialization meant automated production for many items that were once lovingly made by hand of only the finest materials.
Mass production has diluted quality, as has off-shore manufacturing that takes advantage of cheaper labor and materials.
There's something reassuring about a tag that tells you a human being took care to see that your merchandise was well made.
3. Decrease landfills.
Seriously, people, we have all that we need in this world already. You just have to find it! Whether you're looking for something sick to wear or amazing to adorn your home, it already exists. When you pop for goods that have been around the block but have life left in them, you're doing your part to diminish landfills. Buying used items is the ultimate form of recycling.
4. Claim a piece of history.
There's a lot of good juju in redeeming an item that might otherwise be cast off. It feels good to breathe new life into an object that another person no longer has a use for. And when you buy something that has lived for a while, it has a story to tell. You're connected to another place and time. Damn, that's deep.
5. Support a small business.
Most of us who ply the trade of reselling are small business owners, so your dollars go to support mom and pop shops rather than corporate execs in their corner offices. If you like to contribute to our thriving entrepreneurial society versus the Walmartification of America, then by all means buy vintage. You can find curated treasures from sellers like us online, via our own websites or selling platforms such as eBay and Etsy as well as in brick-and-mortar stores, flea markets, pop-up shops and more.
6. Enjoy the journey.
To outsiders, selling online may seem like an impersonal experience. On the contrary! We exchange email with window shoppers and buyers all the time. We also communicate with customers who may have a question or comment about a recent purchase or want to combine shipping on multiple purchases. We've had a few requests from people asking us to watch for a special vintage item. Occasionally something has been damaged in the mail, and even more rare, someone is disappointed or simply would like to take advantage of our 30-day return policy. In all of these scenarios, we exchange one to several emails that make many of our Cool Vintage Finds eBay transactions as "personal" as—or even more than—the checkout line at a busy retail store.
The eBay feedback forum is a great way to hear from our customers and for visitors to our store to gain confidence in us as eBay sellers. Not everyone takes the time to leave feedback, but we really appreciate hearing from buyers to gauge how we're doing and find ways to do even better. Reading positive comments is inspiring and reinforces the value of what we do and the things we make available. Comments are refreshed as they come in, and eBay keeps track of positive, neutral and negative comments.. See what people have said about their recent experiences as Cool Vintage Finds Store customers.
Your feedback is encouraging in a world that is easily distracted by the newest and shiniest objects. Keep it coming!
Learn about our recent discoveries and what captures our imagination in this blog, then peruse the treasures in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Brought to you by...
... Susan Buie, writer by day, vintage curator and co-proprietor of the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay in all the moments in between.