Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Toilet Paper Tubes

To the annoyance of my house mate I've been saving ALL the toilet paper roll tubes to sell on ebay or etsy. More to recycle than to make money. They took FOREVER to sell but finally I lowered the price enough and listed them on etsy. Below is Bailey, for reference, next to 150+ toilet paper tubes ready to ship. I got $14.99 plus shipping. Obviously Bailey is not impressed.

Pinterest has loads (no pun intended) of crafts and art that you can do with these. Here is my recent favorite. Once it gets closer to Christmas (ugh) I want to do this with the folks at the assisted living where my parents live. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sales This Week and FREE!! Stuff

I went to an estate sale yesterday. I spent $5 on a small bag of stuff. Today everything left is being given away for free. Now there wasn't that much that I wanted to begin with when I was paying but I'm going back and I'm excited! FREE!! The home owner was an Avon rep and at least 50% of the stuff is Avon. We all know that Avon doesn't sell, right?? Right. Most of it anyway. I'll stick to the bottles I think are unique…I'll update later this week with what I got.

Sales were good this week again with the majority of my etsy sales through Direct Checkout. I know I sound like a broken record but it's made a huge difference in my etsy sales.

Below are some of my best sales both ebay and etsy.

Vintage Faux Fur Coat. Paid less than $3 in bag sale. Sold for $29 plus shipping. I have 3 other faux furs for sale. Sold on Etsy.
Koala Collector Plate. Paid $1. Sold for $72 plus shipping!! I know most collectable plates aren't worth much and I don't usually pick them up. Sold on Ebay.

Handpainted owl. Bag sale. $3 for a whole bag. Sold the owl for $25 plus shipping. Owls are still selling. Sold on Etsy.

Vintage Weaving Book. Paid $1. Sold for $35 plus shipping. Obscure books are a good bet. Sold on Ebay.

I loved this tapestry. I don't remember how much I paid. It was less than $10. Sold for $48 plus shipping. Sold on Ebay.

Vintage Vogue Advent Calendar pattern. Paid less than a buck. Sold for $27 plus shipping. I was shocked when I saw how much these were selling for. Vintage advent calendars are hot. Patterns or completed calendars. Look at this Avon calendar from the 80s. Sold on Ebay.

In the comments I'd love to hear if anyone else has tried to sell Avon. I purchased a large lot of bottles once from Goodwill. After researching I saw they weren't worth much. I tried to sell them at a rummage sale with zero success. They still sit in my basement..

Monday, September 21, 2015

What's Selling

I had a good sales week this week. My etsy sales have continued to improve since I signed up for Direct Checkout. I highly recommend if you sell on etsy to make sure you are allowing people to use Direct Checkout. It has really increased my sales. 

Most exciting was this Coogi sweater that I had just listed a few days prior. I paid $3 and it sold for $99.99 plus shipping. Coogi is still hot. This is only the 2nd I've ever found. The great thing is you don't really have to look very hard to find them. They are so different they jump right off a rack of clothing. I think I could have listed it for more but I wanted it to sell quickly. 

Again the sports items continue to sell with football season under way. I sold this vintage Michigan State windbreaker. I paid a couple bucks for this and it sold for $33.99 plus shipping on etsy.

A vintage super bowl hat. I paid a buck or two. Sold for $19.99 plush shipping.

And this vintage Rose Bowl sweatshirt. Paid $1 and sold for $29.74 plus shipping also on etsy. 

I hope your week was good as well and that we all have great sales this week. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Being a Lazy Shipper

I recently realized that some lazy behavior on my part was costing me money and probably some sales. I call my behavior 'lazy shipping'. Below I describe the different types.

1. When creating a listing instead of actually weighing the item with some packing material you guesstimate based on your past experience. For example I know most mugs fall between 1 to 2 pounds. So I choose the range instead of weighing to get a more exact weight.

2. When the item is sold you print up the shipping when you're still in bed without having packed the item. Later you pack the item and see you could have saved a little cash by putting in the corrected weight.

3. When setting up a new listing if you aren't sure you choose priority instead of priority flat rate so that you don't have to check if the item will fit in the flat rate envelope.

So I had a light bulb moment this week and realized these behaviors were costing me and my customers money and they were also probably costing me sales. Why is that?

When you use the 1-2 pounds instead of a more exact weight the post office rounds up to 2 pounds. So you are charged for 2 pounds when the item is 1.1 pounds. This doesn't matter for your american customers as shipping for 1.1 pounds is the same cost as 2 pounds. But this does make a difference for your international customers. International postage is charged by the ounce. So 1.1 vs 2 pounds can cost your customer a few bucks and may make them look for another item with lower shipping.

When I'm not sure if an item will fit in a priority flat rate mailer I'd play it safe and not offer the flat rate. I didn't think it really mattered thinking it was just a few cents difference. What I wasn't realizing was that it matters for some customers and not others based on distance and weight. If it it a light weight item there probably isn't much difference between priority and priority flat rate but if it is a heavy item it can mean a few dollars if it is going all the way across the country. I wasn't considering this and probably lost some sales this way. Likewise sometimes I would offer just priority and not parcel select. I didn't realize that although they looked like they cost about the same in my area for a buyer in California (the furthest from me) there was a significant difference especially with a heavy item. A buyer's question about shipping charges alerted me to this.

Guesstimating can hurt you in a couple of ways. Under estimate and you can end having to eat some shipping. This can cost you pennies or tens of dollars. Especially be careful of the size of your package! If your package ends up "oversized" this can add a lot of money to the cost of shipping. I've lost a few bucks this way. Over estimate and you risk scaring people away by a shipping price that sounds too high.

So I'm learning to spend a few more minutes on the front end. I'm weighing my item with a box and some paper to get a better idea of the final weight. I'm checking to see if it will fit in the priority flat rate envelope so that I can offer that more often.

Elsewhere since I signed up for Direct Checkout on Etsy my sales have increased. Almost all of my most recent sales have been through Direct Checkout.  Make sure you have this turned on if you sell on etsy. Here is an explanation of Direct Checkout.

Sales continue to be pretty slow on ebay.

Below are some of my recent ebay and etsy sales.

A Corduroy UNO trucker hat. I bought this in a bag sale so I paid about a quarter. Sold for $19.99 plus shipping.

Vintage plastic wall rosary. I paid $5 for this and took an offer of $24.99 plus shipping. I'd hoped to get more for this because it was really cool but alas I needed the money so I took the offer. 

Vintage Wool Varsity Jacket. I paid $1.75 for this and sold it for $50 plus shipping. 

A Ladish belt buckle. Paid 50 cents and sold for $24.99 plus shipping. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

What's Been Selling and Ambient Noise

Sales have been okay this week. They continue to improve on etsy as I add more and more to my etsy store. I'm up to 150 listings on etsy. My ebay store has about 1800 listings. Yay!

Some of my best or most interesting sales were:

This vintage Cardinals jersey was really cool. I had it listed for a while at $39.99 and took a best offer of $24.99 plus shipping. My mom's maiden name is Cardinal so it was sort of a sentimental item to me. She had a collection of things with cardinals on them.

I found this wooden shadowbox house in my basement last weekend. I don't remember when I got it or how much I paid but I think I bought it prior to being an ebay seller. When I saw it in the basement I thought it would look real cool decorated for Halloween. I put it up for sale and sold it for $34.99 plus shipping within a few days on etsy. I love that kind of sale. 

Vintage glasses are a new thing for me. I've purchased about 4 pair in the last few months. I like to pick them up if they are a buck or two. I paid 50 cents for these at an estate sale this summer. They sold for $29.99 plus shipping. They are super easy to store, take pictures, and ship. These were prescription. It doesn't matter if the lenses are scratched because the buyer will likely be replacing the lens with their own prescription or a non rx lens. 

I purchased this large metal Yamaha sign this summer at a rummage sale. I paid $15 which is a lot for me. I took a best offer of $110 with free shipping. Amazingly the shipping with my discount was under $10 for priority. This thing was 3 feet long. It was nice to not have to find a box for it. I just took priority boxes and frankenwrapped them around it. 

Something else I want to share this week is something I found on the internet. My absolutely favorite way to work/list/pack etc is to have a new podcast from Jay and Ryanne at Scavenger Life playing while I work. After that I alternate between several things including Pandora, Youtube, and other podcasts. This week something directed my attention to ambient noise. I can't remember what spurred my interest. First let me back up and say I have a long history of sleeping with a fan on. I like the ambient noise. So whatever it is that spurred my interest that I can't remember made me try listening to ambient noise while I list. I found this great site that has a bunch of sounds that you can listen to separately or layer. It's so cool. You can listen to a gentle rain, or add some thunder and wind or maybe listen to a campfire with some thunder in the background. Or how about a campfire with some crickets? I swear I got overheated listening to the campfire on a hot day while I was packing but it gave me a nice nostalgic feel of times spent with my family around campfires. The website is called A Soft Murmur. I read that ambient noise frees up your brain to be more creative vs listening to music or podcasts. One thing I noticed is that if I am listening to a podcast and working I have to stop the podcast when I'm reading something so that I can concentrate. The ambient noise doesn't bother me that way. t wouldn't want to only listen to rain and campfires but it is a nice change now and then. According to the forecast we may be getting real rain today. I hope so. We could use some. 

So what are your feelings about ambient noise? Can you sleep in a silent room? Have you ever tried working with a nice rain playing in the background?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ebay Search Results - Scary 'Results'

Yesterday I made a disturbing discovery while doing some research on ebay. I was preparing a listing for Mens Levis Jeans Size 42x30. I did an ebay search to check and see where prices were at. What happened shocked me.

My search term was "levis 560 42x30" in the mens jeans, used. That brought up 30 items. I then added -black as I didn't want to see the black jeans. When I did that the total results went from 30 to 7. Even though there were only 5 pair of black jeans. So 18 pairs of blue jeans are disappearing from the search when I take out the black jeans. What?? I took a couple of screen shots to prove it and tried it several times to see if I could duplicate it. This is disturbing.

I imagine this error is not just occurring for levis jeans. I plan to test it out some more today. But if it's true and all kinds of searches are affected and items get kicked out of search results when they shouldn't then mine and your items are probably not being seen even when someone specifically searches for them and there aren't even a ton of results.

In the pictures below look at the number of search results before and after I subtract black. Try this search yourself. Do you get the same results? Can you explain this to me? Am I missing something?

I wouldn't be as disturbed if this was a large search with hundreds or thousands of results. But a small search with only 30 items? That should be simple and cut and dried.

 Search Term "Levis 560 42x30"

Search Term "Levis 560 42x30 -black"

Edited to Add:

Maybe I'm spending a little too much time and energy on this? I should be listing instead you say? 

After some more testing using other items and other search terms I figured out that it is the minus that is the main factor in this weirdness. Not the color black or any word you put after the minus. Do a search that returns less than 100 items so you can see them all on one page and get a quick idea of what is happening. Now add a minus something to your same search term. This should disappear a lot of the original results. You can minus something that doesn't even make sense. For example search "pyrex polka dot bowls". My search turns up 31 results. Now add -jeans. Twenty eight listings disappear. Now try -orange which is a sensical search. Again 28 listings disappear and the same three remain. So what if your listing is the one that disappears no matter what search term is put after a minus? Although as Queen of Fifty Cents pointed out in the comments a lot of people don't use the minus sign in their searches I think there are still plenty of people who do use it. How about you? Do you use minus when you are searching ebay?? Below I've posted a screen shot where ebay tells us how to use the minus sign.