Promoting the reuse market via personal journey seems to be my passion. It’d be a dream to run into a municipal or state Office of Economic Development and fire up programs to grow the American reuse market. Most politicians shy away from this because – we can assume - of corporate campaign funding. I know for certain, at least one of my pleas has landed on the desk of one significant elected official.
For years many friends, relations and readers have hinted an online resale shop is in my future, but managing a retail operation doesn’t make me want to fist pump and scream, “Yes!” That’s why I admire and respect friend Apron Thrift Girl’s sage teachings of resale on her blog. We’d make a good team, Apron Thrift Girl in the field, and me on the policies. We talk. We dream.
As with many Americans, the Golightlys have serious economic woes. For some time, I searched for Mr. Golightly’s Father’s Day gift. Just in the nick of time, I found an expanding magazine file rack for his office. He loved it. He Googled it to learn its history. He saw how much it’s selling for online. Though he loves the item, he’d rather have the $ for our family (Mr. Golightly has been a proponent of an online resale shop for a while). I started to give this some serious thought because it was Father's Day.
To learn more about the resale market, it would be wise to know it from more sides. Soon, The Thrifty Chicks will be opening an online store [Exhale]. I have anxieties. When friends tell me to be an interior designer, I morph into Gertrude Stein and note “My taste, is my taste, is my taste“. Plus, I don’t know a damn thing about color theory, another excuse for feeling intimidated. When our house was to be painted and I was handed the paint color options (over a thousand variations on a giant wheel) and gave it directly to Modern Mommie (a trained artist). I knew the colors: green house, plum trim with a café au lait accent. Modern Mommie’s fingers flew over those colors had the perfect palate in five minutes. This would have taken me 72 hours to come close to anything satisfying. I don’t mind sharing my taste, but feel a bit weird feeling about selling it. We all fear rejection.
Unlike the conventional retail market, shoppers of resale have direct, easy access to the main product suppliers of reuse: thrift stores, yard and estate sales – the places for the lowest price point. The online resale markets like EBay and Etsy determine the highest.
My dilemma? I don’t wish to price gouge. Yet, I need to earn enough to justify my time, it’d be foolish of me to invest my time into something that hardly clears minimum wage.
Basically, I need to determine a good finder’s fee strategy.
Most items I will sell will be finds that come around maybe once a year. That’s a lot of time in thrift stores. And, my inventory will start with items I value. Let’s just say I’d make a terrible snake oil salesman – how people do that is beyond my scope of understanding.
The store will start with several years of inventory I’m willing to part with because the Golightly's are purging. However, when out shopping for items we do need (like clothing for my growing daughters) and I see a beautiful antique Graniteware muffin tin for a few dollars and while I do bake muffins, this tin is very rare find, and it would be profitable to sell (I looked it up). This would be like passing up on an extravagant meal for pennies when you haven’t yet had dinner. [Sigh.] Having a kitchen wholly outfitted with fine antique French cookware sounds wonderful. The reality? We need money and I could use some experience in selling reuse. And, when you thrift, you learn that what goes around comes around. It’s just is a matter of timing and luck.
I’d like public input on what reasonable finder’s fees might be. I want to entice people into my market, but I don’t want to either drive potential customers away with the price, or shortchange my family. Any thoughts?
While you think about this, here are a few photos of items found this week. Some will go up for sale online.
Petite Poe fell for this antique French crystal atomizer...
and these vintage Norman Kaplan designer shoes that must of come from the closet of Imelda Marcos for I cannot understand how a shoe could be so old and in such pristine condition. Who buys shoes and then doesn't wear them? Why?
Then she found this Anthropologie skirt...
to which I found this full skirt with tags still dangling from an import store.
It's critical to note that, as an advocate of shopping thrift, it's important I send my daughters out into the world with an enviable style so that when asked where this skirt or those shoes were purchased and say they declare, "thrift" they are honored, not humiliated.
This is the antique Graniteware muffin tin I wrote about in the above.
The expanding magazine/file rack and...
a few office supplies.
Now off to inventory; photograph; design and set up a little online store. This is no small project and I need to get over it and myself. Sheesh!