Thursday, February 2, 2012

fighting Etsy exhaustion part II - vintage matchmakers

I am fairly certain that most vintage sellers on Etsy either 1. started their shop as an excuse to flea market or

2. their love of flea marketing had become an obsession and it was Etsy or the hoarders tv show

(and since you need one of those hairy facial moles to get on the tv show and most people are not willing to get one of those things surgically implanted to become dysfunctionally famous - Etsy it was)

This is not about how to sell more vintage on Etsy, but some vintage peeps did offer up a couple selling suggestions that could help avoid the exhaustion trap:

1. be selective about what you sell - just because it's vintage doesn't mean anyone wants to buy it

2. sell from your heart - offering up things that you love to people who will love them, too, is what you are really doing here - you are not a seller of vintage - you are a matchmaker - the Fiddler on the Roof kind not that scary chick on the tv show! (wth)

Now this 'be selective' thing may go against the 'one man's trash is another man's treasure' typical flea thinking, but your shop is not a flea market, you are a vintage boutique - on Etsy (and the internet in general) it is always a good idea to specialize and find your niche.

If you are selective and sell from your heart it will be easier for you to :

1. become an authority on what you sell
2. develop a following and
3. keep the passion alive for what you are doing


These translate into

1. less time spent doing research and less time shopping (wait is that really a plus?) because you will know what you are looking for and what things are worth and what you can resell and make money on
2. less time spent listing (you can offer items to specific customers through a service like Mailchimp at a discounted price prior to listing - one vintage seller told me that she sells 25% of her finds by offering them up at a discount to her mailing list prior to listing on Etsy)
3. the world doesn't need more people who sell stuff, the world though does need more people who love what they are doing

Some other great tips from vintage sellers to work smarter and not harder included:

1. Detailed descriptions and lots of pics = less convos from customers with questions and less problems later

(think measurements and not sizes and if you ship outside of the U.S. remember to include centimeter measurements, too)

2. Pack up your items after photographing them - don't seal the package in case you need to check something for someone, but having it all ready to ship and being certain of your shipping charges saves time and money - one seller puts a photo from the listing on the outside of her boxes

(I once bought something from a vintage seller who lamented to me how much she would miss it because she was using it as a bookend on her radiator - now I know my purchase had a life before me, but it gave me a weird feeling to think of my precious whosee whatsee being used between the time the pics were taken and the time of my purchase, so as a customer boxed and ready to ship sounds good to me)

3. Lower prices after 30 days - to keep your shop fresh and your cash flow in the red - just make sure to keep a list of what you paid for each item handy and know your selling fees so you will always know your bottom line pricing

4. Decide how much time you will devote to your vintage boutique and schedule your tasks - most successful sellers have a timetable they stick with - you get to decide what works best for you, this is your business after all - evaluate how this is all fitting in with the rest of your life regularly!

Vintage matchmakers have to research, shop, photograph, measure, describe, pack, ship plus do all the marketing and relationship building.

This is all alot of work and you need to love what you are doing or you will not be doing it for long.

Now that love can wane a bit here and there as all business love is known to do - sometimes just a little step back from what we are doing can allow us to see the big picture that we are often too close to our work to see - sometimes you have to just keep backing up until everything is in focus.

(a life lesson from my Canon instruction book - next week we'll take a look at my Kenmore dishwasher manual!)

Monday - Large Batch Makers Tips to Avoid Large Batch Exhaustion

1. shop - bellalulu
2. shop - tippleandsnack
3. shop - everyeskimo
4. shop - 5gardenias
5. shop - bold pigeon

9 comments:

LoveCharlesVintage said...

These are awesome tips! Thanks for putting this together. I spend even waking moment thinking about my shop so some outsider advice is always welcome.

Marty said...

As a vintage seller on Etsy I have to say that I really loved this and can see quite a few tips I can use. Thanks for sharing!

Brenda said...

Right on the money, Cat! I'm loving this new series! :)

SummersStudio said...

This is really good and I think much of it applies to those of us who sell other than vintage. Love the idea of being a match maker. That definitely has relevance to most people.

Tessa said...

This is a great post. I love the idea of being a "matchmaker."

Catherine Ivins said...

Thanks guys- Kathi Roussel calls herself a matchmaker and I love, love it, too!

xo

Ted Blackman said...

Etsy seems like a lot of work if you want to sell just vintage collectables. Ebay buyers let you know what somethings worth by their winning bids and often surprise you by exceeding your amount, so you dont need to figure that out in advance, and it's a bigger market place for vintage items.

Of course, the Ebay corporation sucks in many ways, but for collectables it's still the best. Have you found that not to be true?

As for original art, I would sell on Etsy for sure.

Catherine Ivins said...

Hi Ted- As a buyer I check Ebay if I have a very specific piece in mind - I got a great deal on an old typewriter on Ebay- but when just looking for a piece that suits my aesthetic (modern vintage or industrial vintage) I prefer to shop the Etsy boutiques that have similar aesthetics to my own. Ebay feels more like a junk flea market with all the new cheap stuff- Etsy feels more like a town filled with vintage shops!

DancingMooney ♥ said...

Loved this idea of being a match maker, too cool! And somehow, I missed the first of this series... off to find it. ;)