Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Roller skating and bumper cars

Growing up there was an indoor roller skating rink in my hometown called Wheel A While. It was thee place to have a birthday party. This may sound funny, but the thing I remember the most about Wheel A While is the Twinkies. My mom must not have bought Twinkies because whenever I went to Wheel A While I had to get one of those red Twinkies with the coconut on it. They were the best. Once in a while I will still buy one, but they just don’t taste the same as they did at the roller rink. My other memories include playing Limbo, which I was never any good at and some other game that involved skating to a corner of the rink when the music stopped.
Close to Wheel A While was Bump ‘n Tilt which was another popular birthday party spot. Bump ‘n Tilt had bumper cars and a video arcade. I know I had at least one birthday party there and attended many others. Whenever I watch Wreck It Ralph I always think of Bump ‘n Tilt. The Fix it Felix game reminds me of all the arcade games we played growing up.

I have great memories of playing Mario at home for the first time and still love playing video games, but I realize that having that convenience shut down the video arcades. We had a great little arcade at the mall too. There are a few game areas in local restaurants and at the bowling alley that spew out tickets to redeem for prizes, but it just isn’t the same. My kids love it, but sometimes I wish they could experience the roller rink or an old arcade. Those were the days.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's almost baseball season!

It’s almost baseball season! I have been a baseball fan since I was 10 years old. That year the Minnesota Twins won the World Series and gained a lifelong fan. I’m not sure why I ever latched onto baseball as my dad is not a sports fan and I’m the oldest of three daughters, but whatever it was I was instantly hooked. The winter after the Twins won the World Series I started collecting baseball cards and read all I could about baseball. I loved the history and I loved collecting cards. I still have all of my baseball cards. They aren’t worth the fortune I hoped they someday would be, but in a way they are priceless to me.

One of my favorite possessions is my 1985 Topps Kirby Puckett rookie card. Kirby is and always will be my favorite baseball player. I loved watching him play. I was lucky enough to see Kirby play in person in many games at the Metrodome. And I will always remember when I attended my first unchaperoned concert because that was also the night Kirby hit the homerun to win game 6 of the 1991 World Series. I also remember exactly where I got that rookie card. I blew a good portion of my vacation money on that card, but it has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. It might be just a piece of cardboard with a photo on it, but for me it represents my childhood.

I still love to collect sports memorabilia. A few years after my husband and I bought our first house, I was spending an afternoon rummage sale shopping with my mom. At one rummage sale I picked up a letter from a letterman’s jacket and a vintage college football program. Now I have several vintage programs hanging on one wall and several letterman’s letters throughout my living room. I also started collecting homecoming pins. I love the way these things look and feel in my home.

I currently have a few baseball related items in my Etsy shop and it is my hope to add more. While I love my baseball card and sports collection, it just seems like it’s time to downsize. There are certain items that I will never let go of, but it might be time to let go of some things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

So you want to sell on Etsy?

I’ve had several people say they are interested in selling on Etsy and have asked me for advice about how to get started. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’m always happy to share my experiences. I started out selling handmade items, but when I went back to work full-time, I decided to switch to the vintage market. Having experience in both of these markets has given me a unique view of Etsy. While I did enjoy the handmade side of Etsy, in my opinion, handmade items are a lot harder to sell than vintage items. I’m not saying don’t sell handmade items! Do what you love! For me selling vintage items was something that was easier to do with a family and a full-time job. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned from selling both handmade and vintage items on Etsy:

1.       Do your research. If you know what you are going to be selling, look at Etsy shops that have similar items. Look at how items are photographed and described. What prices are they selling their items for? What do they charge for shipping? What are their shop policies? What payment options do they accept? Another really great resource on Etsy is the community forums. If you have a question, chances are the question has already been asked in the forums. Changes to Etsy’s policies and procedures are also announced (and sometimes strongly debated) in the forums.
2.       You get what you give. The more you list on Etsy, the more you promote your shop, the more active you are in the forums, the more you will sell. This is especially true with handmade items. The handmade market is highly competitive and your items can get buried in a hurry. If you aren’t regularly updating your shop, shoppers will have to click through many pages to find your items.
3.       Take good photographs. This is the first thing a potential buyer will see. I have actually seen blurry photos on Etsy, which makes me cringe. I would have liked that item, but if you can’t take the time to take a quality photo, what does that say about your product? Photos with visual appeal also help to draw people to your shop. You don’t have to have a top of the line camera, but do invest in a quality camera. Also invest in a tripod. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Tripods are a must have for getting quality closeups of your items.
4.       Know where to promote. Facebook and blogging are my two favorite ways to promote, but there are so many other options out there. Maybe Twitter or Pinterest is more your style. Maybe you’re a social media queen and you use every social media outlet available. Etsy also has promotions available that feature your items at the top of search results. I tried Etsy promotions a couple of times with limited results, but give it a shot and maybe it will work well for you. Networking can help as well. There are groups on Etsy that work together to help promote each other, but this takes time and is another “you get what you give” option. Etsy groups work for some, but I just have never had the time for it.
5.       Don’t give up. It may take some time to get that first sale. Even if you’re lucky and get that first sale quickly, you may still experience periods of slow business. Everyone experiences this at one time! In my experience the time of year is a big factor on my sales. Winter and spring are the busiest, just because people are indoors on their computers more. Depending on the types of items you are selling you may notice busier and slower times as well.
6.       Have fun! While I loved selling handmade items, it got to be more of chore than a fun side job. I took a break and eventually came back selling vintage which fits in better with all the other demands on my time. And it feeds my need to hoard, I mean, collect things I don’t need. Find something that you enjoy doing and you’ll love Etsy!

If you have an Etsy shop what are your tips for anyone thinking of taking the plunge? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green today? The kids and I all made sure to wear our green today. No pinching here!

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would share some of the green items I currently have listed on Etsy.

These cookbooks are perfect for the upcoming grilling season.

  I love vintage wrapping paper. How cute is this paper?

 I also love vintage items that are functional like this shaker.

Wouldn't this turtle soap dish be fun in a kid's bathroom?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Reclaimed dart board

As I've been trying to get more items into my Etsy shop, I came across this metal dartboard I got last summer. I took some photos, but before I actually got it posted on Etsy, I wondered if Nerf darts would stick to it.

Well, the answer is yes they do. We've been enjoying some nice temps, but today it got cold again and this dartboard made for some new fun for another day stuck indoors. The kids, (and maybe mom and dad too), spent countless hours shooting at the new target. Needless to say, this is no longer for sale.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fabric and roller skate finds

It gets a little frustrating at this time of year to find treasures in thrift stores, but I found a couple of things recently. 

Vintage fabric can be hit and miss at one of my favorite thrift stores, but on my last trip there the rack was packed with vintage goodness. I resisted the urge to buy any fabric as I really don't need any more fabric, but I couldn't help it. I picked out a few of my favorites and brought them home. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but when I use it I'll post it here.

 I also found these fun metal roller skates. This is something I would normally keep for myself, but I already have a great pair sitting on a shelf in my living room. This pair went on my Etsy shop. I know someone is going to love them as much as I do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's almost rummage sale season!

Spring is finally in the air and that’s got me thinking about rummage sales. I’m sick of being cooped up inside. I’m getting tired of not finding anything of note at the thrift stores lately either. I’m ready to get my sneakers on and do some power walking from rummage sale to rummage sale. Like many people I have my rummage sale strategies. I've never shared them because, truthfully, I'm a little protective of them. I don't want people to know my "secrets". They might get to the good sales before me! Really, I only have three rules I follow when I go to rummage sales:

  1. I don't have a mapped out plan. I used to scan the newspaper for the best rummage sale ads, circle them, then wander around town trying to find a specific address. No more. I found that when I wandered around aimlessly I had more success. Ads are often misleading and if I went to a sale for one thing mentioned in the ad, half of the time I was too late to get it. I love going to a sale with no misconceptions of what I might find. And isn't that the best part of junking? Never knowing what you'll find.
  2. Stick to older neighborhoods. When it comes to finding junk I stay in older neighborhoods. To me, it seems like newer neighborhoods with newer homes means young families. I want to find the older couples who no longer want their "old useless junk". I found one exception to this rule last summer. I found that condos, even in new neighborhoods, are great sources for junk. Many of these condos are home to older couples looking to downsize.
  3. Who's holding the sale? Nothing gets me more excited than seeing an older person sitting outside a rummage sale. Once in a while I'll get a little old lady who thinks all of her things are worth a lot and is trying to sell them at antique store prices, but more often than not an older person means good cheap junk. Usually, an older person just wants to get rid of their stuff and that means marking it low. Older sellers can be chatty too, so who knows, you may hear a good story to go with the item you are purchasing.

If you have some tried and true rummage sale tips, I would love to hear them!