Yard Sale Day & Habitat Shop

What with all the reorganizing going on all week, I’m just now getting to the good stuff…this week’s yard sale and thrift store finds!

Actually, it was pretty slim pickings this week. You know yard sale season is winding down when you have to lump yard sale and thrift store finds into one post.

This was one community sale and a Habitat stop.  The only things I am remotely excited about in that pile are a 1962 printing of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and a little brass bell dated 1928 from a place called The Sheridan.

I cannot for the life of me find anything on this place. I have contacted the Penn Avenue business web site for Pennsylvania. Since there is no state on the bell, I had to make a guess.  I’ll update this post if I get any info.

Some decent clothing, a few pieces with tags, like new books, the usual.  Things will ramp back up around September. I will be anxiously awaiting Daniel Island Red Balloon Day and Charleston Friends of the Library BIG Book Sale. My two favorite sales of the year!

I’ll still be posting any new and exciting finds until then. Sign up for post notifications to get the latest updates!

New Improved Home Office Space!

If the posts seem to be slacking over the past couple of weeks, it’s because I’ve been working on expanding and improving my home office space.  I wanted something that says “organized and functional”, not “hoarder”.  Here’s the before:

Notice in the before photo, I filled the hanging clothes rack, then slowly started taking over the floor space, creeping up the steps and right up to the door.  So every time you walked in the room, there was more stuff to walk around. No, this was not motivation enough for me. I had to wait until the clothes rack COMPLETELY COLLAPSED under the weight of too many clothes before I decided to do something.  And the after:

Yeah, it’s not a Pottery Barn cover photo or anything, but it is an improvement. Most everything is off the floor now and visible without digging around through a pile. This is the opposite side of the bonus room so it’s no longer the first thing you see when you walk in; there’s a sitting area there now, so we look like civilized adults and not pack rats.

Those racks were purchased on sears.com. They are working out fine now that I’ve got them situated, but I honestly would not recommend purchasing these online.  They don’t ship well, the boxes arrived damaged and the outside of the boxes stated that shipping damage was not the company’s responsibility, but they would assist you in filing a claim with the shipping company. LOL. One corner was bent so my sweet husband just bent it back out and it works fine. I just feel like if you have had so many items get damaged in shipping that you have to put that on your boxes, then the problem is probably your boxes.

So now that I can breathe in this room again, I’ll be able to spend more time here posting fun finds and thrift store tips.  Stay tuned!

 

Removing Tarnish from Vintage Silverplate with Mothers

I learned a pretty neat trick for cleaning silverplate items, and I like sharing neat tricks, so here you go.  I picked up a few trays and random silverplated items at the thrift store that were pretty badly tarnished.  Since I’ve never personally owned any silverplate items, my go-to for figuring out how to handle that kind of thing is Pinterest,  I found a worthwhile looking solution where you take a tub, then line it with aluminum foil and fill it boiling water and a cup of baking soda.  Submerge your items for several minutes and there’s supposed to be some science hocus-pocus where magnetism pulls the tarnish off your item.  Um, no.  I tried three times (making the water hotter, adding more baking soda and fresh sheets of foil, wondering if science hates me) and nothing budged.

Magic eraser.  Nothing.

Barkeeper’s Friend.  Nothing.

As I’m using these things, I’m kind of worried about scratching the items, but I was not even permeating the layer of tarnish to get to what I didn’t want to scratch up.  This was some serious tarnish.

Then my adorable husband comes to the rescue with a product that is now in permanent residence on the “Favorite Things” list:

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish

He keeps this in his garage to clean his aluminum wheels (he’s a car guy; ergo, the garage is “his”), but kindly let me try it out.  It worked like a charm!  Elbow grease was still necessary, but these pieces were pretty grimy.

Some before, during and after photos:

I just wiped on, scrubbed in circles with a throwaway shop rag (you won’t be washing and reusing it) and buffed it off.  So shiny!  And it didn’t appear to leave any more scratches than were already on there.  Big thanks to my sweetie for the tip!

How to Pack Shipments for 5-Star Feedback

If you’ve ever sold on eBay before, then you already know…feedback is everything!  I’ve sacrificed profits for feedback several times to please a customer, because once the feedback is posted, it’s there forever.  Well, it only affects your rating for 12 months, but that’s an eternity in eBay time.  There are millions of sellers and 5-star feedback is one of the things that differentiates your store from the rest.  Here’s a few tips for getting a sold item to the customer in 5-star condition:

1.  Double check the item before you pack it.  I have had a few sales I had to cancel because I saw a problem with the item as I was packing it, even though I checked it before listing.  It happens.

2.  Make sure you have the right size and type of packaging.  If you are packing a fragile item and it’s not properly packed per the USPS guidelines, you might not be able to file a claim for damage if it arrives broken.  This includes using a sturdy box or padded envelope, bubble wrap and/or packing peanuts and good shipping tape.  I recommend this tape for ease of use and just the right amount of stickiness.

3.  Presentation is everything.  I don’t understand people who wad up an item in an envelope with nothing then send it to me, but it happens surprisingly often.  I’m not big on bragging, but one of the things I repeatedly see in my feedback is the comment “well packaged”, which makes me so happy because I really try to pack items as nicely as possible.  I want customers to feel like they are opening a present. 🙂  Here is an example of how I package an item to ship:

For clothing items, I use the $1 store packs of white tissue paper.  Since I pack in a tear- and water-resistant poly envelope, clothing doesn’t really need any other inner packaging.  I don’t want to just sling the item in the envelope and send it like that, so I first lay out the tissue on a flat surface.

Then I fold the item into a neat rectangle so it will be similar in size and shape to the envelope.

Then I fold the tissue in from corner to corner and fold it down the middle, securing with tape.  I do the same thing with the opposite corners.

Now I have a neat little rectangle.  I opt to put in a “Thank You” business card with the link to my eBay and Poshmark stores on it, rather than a packing slip printed from eBay which has no added value.  If people ask for a packing slip, I print one of those also.  I’ve had exactly 3 people ask for a packing slip in 8 years.  I tuck the card into the tissue paper.

I slide it in the envelope and seal it.  I only buy white self-sealing poly envelopes from these guys;  they don’t cost much more and are so convenient.

This last step is probably a little OCD, but I really feel like it helps keep the item from shifting around in the envelope.  After sealing, I shift the item to one side, then fold over the excess side of the envelope and tape it in place with packaging tape.  I know, it’s a bit much.  That feedback, though!

And here is a stack of finished packages, all ready for the post office!

 

4.  Ship the item ON TIME.  I admit to not being perfect here, but I  keep the number of items that ship out after 1 business day at less than 3% so I don’t lose my seller status.  A late shipment usually happens because I don’t have the right size box and have to go…***cringe***…buy one.  This can be avoided by immediately looking for free boxes after you purchase the item, not wait until after you sell it.

This is basically it.  Just post accurate listings with all information and photos that are clear and not misleading, then pack carefully and ship quickly, and your feedback will reflect the care that you have taken to get the item to your customer asap!

Choosing the Best Clothing Brands for Resale

As you know, thrift stores are my favorite place to shop for resale items.  So many things!  So little money!  I’ve been shopping in thrift stores for so long, that I sometimes forget how daunting it can be the first few times you try it.

If you are shopping for resale, here are a few brands to look for so as not be overwhelmed by the endless racks of clothing.  These are not necessarily the highest grossing items, but they are the ones that I sell most consistently with the fewest issues regarding quality.

1. J. Crew – Hands down, my favorite resale brand.  There is a following for J. Crew clothing that I don’t see with any  other brand that I list.  It’s like a cult or something.

2.  White House/Black Market – In over 10 years on eBay, I’ve never listed a WH/BM item that didn’t sell.

3.   Ann Taylor LOFT – Consistent sales, although not the highest return.  Of all the brands, though, I find their items to have the least amount of wear.

4. Theory – I could probably list a piece of toilet paper with a Theory tag on it and it would sell.  A rare find in a thrift store, but higher ROI.

5. Free People – Ditto.

6. Banana Republic – This runs a close second to LOFT in consistent sales and quality.  People seem to wear these clothes out a little more, so I double check everything.

7. The Limited – I stick with their classic business/dress items; little black dresses, pencil skirts, dress pants, button down shirts.

8. Lucky Brand – Most consistent sales on their jeans, tops are okay. If you’re lucky enough (SWIDT?) to find a nearly new swimsuit, snag it.

9. Anthropologie – The unicorn of the thrift store.  Yes, you can find it, but they carry exclusive brands and if you are not familiar with them, you’ll pass a money maker right on by and not even realize it.

10. Old Navy – Not a huge ROI, but this brand is plentiful in the thrift store, a lot of it in like new condition, and their clothing covers every category; men, women and kids clothes.  Their jeans, shorts and dresses are the items I sell best.  If I get kid’s clothing, I try to get all the same size and gender so I can sell in a lot instead of single listings.

11. GAP – Same as Old Navy, slightly higher return.

12.  Adidas – Another cult following.  If I have multiple colors or styles listed in one size, a buyer will often purchase all of them. They like what they like.

There are many, many other brands out there that will bring in big money, but if you are starting out and are not necessarily familiar with designer brands, these are solid, basic brands to get your store stocked up and have consistent sales each week.  Higher end resale items are harder to find in good condition, but the more you shop, the better you will get at spotting them without spending hours sifting through rack after rack of clothing.

Happy Shopping!

14 Tips for Buying Thrift Store Clothing

Thrift store shopping is my preferred way to buy clothing for resale since I can take my time and thoroughly look over each item, whereas at yard sales, I tend to rush because I want to get to more sales.

Everyone knows not to buy clothing that is faded, outdated, or has obvious tears or stains, but here are a few things to look for that are not so obvious:

1. Armpits – Look for deodorant stains, yellowing, fading, pilling inside and out. Even if deodorant is not visible, hold the item up to the light.  Some deodorants dry clear, but have glitter in them.

2. Collar – Unfold the collar if the item has one and check the crease for stains.  If it doesn’t have a collar that folds, check the tag on the back of the neck.  If it’s grungy looking, you might want to pass.

3. Buttons – I button an item to make sure they are all there and not about to fall off.  I don’t mind tightening a loose button on a nice item, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it if I don’t have to.

4. Zippers – Unzip and zip them all the way to make sure they are completely functioning, then close the hook and eye and make sure it’s securely in place.  Now check the stitching on the seam just below the zipper and make sure it has not come unraveled.  This is likely from people trying to wear an item too small and causing the zipper to come loose from the seam it is attached to.

5. Stains – They are not always obvious, and good lighting is crucial, especially with light colored items.  Sometimes I can’t see a stain until I hold the item up in daylight.  Check the edges of collars and cuffs.

6. Seams – I take items off the hanger, then hold it up with one hand while I run the other hand up and down the seams on each side.  This works best with skirts and tops; with pants, I pull at the legs along the seams.  This is how I can see if a seam has come apart and needs sewing.

7. Hem – Check the hem on skirts and pants for alterations.  If an item has been altered, I pass on it because it is no longer the original size.  Also check for frayed or grimy edges.

8. Safety pins – These can be found in the center of a top with a surplice neckline or inside the waistband to hold it together.  If it needs a safety pin, I don’t buy it.

9. Crotch – Yep, inside and out, especially on women’s clothing for obvious and gross reasons.  The state of some of the clothing that is donated to thrift stores then put out for sale is appalling.  I mean, I’m not expecting everything to be pristine, but come on.  Also check the fabric on the inside upper thigh area for pilling.

10.  Belt loops– Make sure they are all there and all intact.

11. Pockets – Put your hand inside and make sure there are no holes. Or Kleenex, or gum wrappers, or whatever.

12. Tags– I want items that have the tags with the brand name, the size, where it was made and what it is made from.  These are description fields on the eBay listing form so I want to make sure I have that information on the item before I buy it.

13. Pilling– Obviously, if the garment has overall pilling from general washing and wearing, you don’t want it.  Less obvious are the inside upper thigh area mentioned above, as well as the armpit area.  Nothing fixes this, so I pass on these items.

14. Smell– Since I only buy items that don’t need washing before I sell them, I have to make sure they don’t have an offensive odor of any kind.  This includes cigarette smoke, mildew, moth balls, heavy detergent scents and perfume or cologne residue.  I’m sure I look like a freak smelling used clothing, but I can’t have one item getting its stank all over everything else I bought that day.

That’s pretty much it.  It sounds like a lot, but once you get used to what you are looking for, it’s less than 30 seconds per item.

Feel free to Pin this list for future reference, and happy shopping!

 

Yard Sale Day & Habitat ReStore Shopping

Most weekends, I luck out with the weather on Yard Sale Day.  Not this weekend, which makes me sad because it was Belle Hall’s Community Sale, which is one I try not to miss.  I managed to get to one sale before the rain started and scored a nice stack of clothing and shoes, including J. Crew, Theory, Living Doll, Emu and Donald Pliner for $22.00. (***UPDATE*** All but 4 of the items shown in the photo sold for a total of $150.00  That’s what I’m talking about.)

So that was the end of Yard Sale Day.  I have found that even if I wait until the rain stops, most things are left out too long and they are damp, if not completely wet.  There are just too many other sales out there to deal with putting wet stuff in my car.  So…I killed the next 45 minutes at Starbucks until the nearest Habitat
ReStore opened. The Habitat Restores here sell books by the bag, so I was able to get a stack for $3.  I also experiment with vintage and antique items here, many of which are priced below $5.  I picked up a Wilton stoneware cookie mold (which I will list closer to the holidays), a Joie pumpkin shaped…something or other…(saved for fall), a Glasbake soup bowl and an adorable French porcelain strawberry bowl which is so stinking cute I am tempted to keep it.  Total: $7.00.  One of the books has already sold for $3.99, so I’m over halfway to making my money back. (***UPDATE*** The Glasbake bowl sold for $8.99 and the berry bowl for $3.99.  Not my best ROI, but I more than doubled my money and still have the rest of these items for sale.)

So not the worst day. And now I don’t have to water the garden. 🙂

A few tips on shopping at Habitat ReStore:

  1. They don’t haggle.  There are multiple signs stating that their proceeds go to build houses and the price marked is the price.
  2. Most locations don’t sell clothing; in fact, only one I’ve been to in this area sells it and the prices aren’t great.
  3. I don’t know how they decide prices, but there doesn’t seem to be a set structure, so it is hit or miss.  And sometimes it’s a pretty nice hit, like these candlesticks I bought for $1.00.
  4. They use labels as price stickers, so make sure you peek under them.  I bought a Lenox item there and when I got it home, there was a crack in it under the price label.
  5. All sales are final.

There you go!  Click here to find your nearest Habitat ReStore…and happy shopping!

Siggi’s is My New Favorite!

Where has this been all my life?  I’ve been eating yogurt for like…30 years, and I cannot fathom how I have overlooked a yogurt with an adorable name, zero fat, low sugar and the thickness of cake frosting!  Seriously, that’s my spoon standing upright in it. This is going on the permanent grocery list, for real.   Here’s a coupon if you want to try it too…enjoy!

UPDATE:  I just finished this and it has a tear tab on the paper label so you can remove it and recycle it separately from the plastic container…they’ve thought of everything, no?…and there is a little info on the inside on why it is so thick and amazing. 🙂

 

Thrift Store Shopping Day!

I love Mondays! All the 7-day auction items end on Sunday, so Monday is like payday. Which, of course, means I have shopping money. 🙂  Thrift store shopping is my favorite, because unlike yard sales, I can take my time looking through items instead of rushing from one sale to the next, and the prices are just as good on most items.

I got a ton of stuff today for $45, including a few items I’m pretty psyched about.  Like these J. Crew Clemson orange swim trunks for $1.50, still new with the tags…

…these HYSTERICAL Margaritaville new and sealed hand soaps, both for $2.99 total. The pumps play clips of Jimmy Buffet songs when you push them down… 😂

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…two Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles for 99 cents each…

…and this 1975 Selchow & Righter Company backgammon game for $2.99.

Vintage games and toys are one of those things I always fall for even though most of the time they don’t sell well. But occasionally they do, so I get them if they are only a few dollars. Either way, they’re pretty cool…I really dig the designs on this board and the retro graphics on the booklet.

10 Rules for Yard Sale Shopping

Don’t you hate articles that have 5 paragraphs of blah, blah, blah before you get to the list you wanted to read?  Me, too.  Here’s the list; it comes from the experience of a dozen or more years of Saturday morning yard sale shopping sprees…

The Rules

  1.  Have small bills.  Yes, the easiest thing to do is stop and get money from the ATM.  You know what the second easiest thing is?  Pull through (insert favorite coffee drive through here), get a small coffee, pay with a $20 and get back…small bills.  Now you have coffee and the first yard sale owners you buy from won’t hate you.  Don’t forget a few quarters.  I can’t tell you how many times I went to a sale, found one thing I really wanted that was 25 cents and had to wait around for change.
  2. Be on time, but not too early.  Of course you want to get there before all the good stuff is gone, but you don’t want to be a jerk, either.  If people say “no early birds”, respect that.  People will be happier to bargain with you if you shop on their terms.
  3. Park politely.  Everyone hates the guy with the giant extended cab truck pulling a trailer and blocking the whole street.  Don’t be that guy (or girl).  Pull further down and park out of the way.  You won’t die if you have to walk a few more feet.  Also?  Don’t pull up on people’s grass and leave tire grooves all over it.  Also, also?  Don’t block the neighbor’s driveways.
  4. Haggle, don’t hassle.  People generally expect shoppers to get a few bucks off the price of furniture or bundle several items for a reasonable price.  But if you’re given a price and they don’t want to negotiate, either pay what they want or move on.  (Talking to you, flea market vendors.)  Nobody likes to feel taken advantage of in their own yard.
  5. Don’t lie.  True story:  a guy haggles (hassles) for an item that is $5, he wants to pay two.  He pulls two ragged $1 bills out of his pocket and says he’s down to his last $2 and would they take that?  The owner takes it with that “fine, just get it and go” look on his face.  30 seconds later, the guy sees something else he wants for $1 and pulls the money out of his pocket to pay for it.  Um…are those MAGIC POCKETS, sir?  Sheesh.
  6. Don’t steal.  This better be self-explanatory.
  7. Don’t smoke.  It’s disrespectful to the homeowner, their belongings and their other customers.  You’ll be back in your car in 5 minutes and you can smoke all you want in there.
  8. Don’t make a mess.  If you have to have the one shirt that is underneath 20 other shirts, by all means, go for it, but don’t leave everything looking like garbage when you’re done.
  9. Leave your kids and pets at home.  Not everyone likes dogs, and some people are allergic. If you do bring your kids, keep an eye on them.  No one wants to babysit while you shop.  Dogs should stay in the car…with the windows open, of course.
  10. If kids are selling lemonade, buy it.  Or cookies, or bottled water, or homemade bracelets, or whatever.  Any kid that has the motivation to get up early, put a table in the driveway and sit there for 4 hours asking people to buy things deserves to make a couple of bucks.  On the flip side, if the kid is nowhere to be found  leaving mom to do the work, or can’t speak to you in a sentence with words like “please” and “thank you”, well, then…you’re off the hook.

Most of this is common sense, I know, but I have seen all of these things happen in people’s driveways at one time or another.  We all want to get the best stuff for the lowest price, why not be pleasant and respectful while we’re at it?  Happy shopping!

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