Identifying and Pricing Vintage

Vintage items were made to last and have withstood the test of time. Many pieces were manufactured with superior workmanship and quality, unlike some of the mass produced pieces made today. Pick up a piece of vintage pottery and notice it's weight. Look at the detail and craftsmanship found in vintage clothing. Play with a toy that won't break in a child's hand. Read a book with beautiful illustrations instead of reading a digital version.

In today's economy, the number of customers frequenting thrift and second hand shops continues to increase. Garage sales are becoming more numerous. People are buying clothes and household items at a fraction of what they would pay for new. Even worn or broken items can be repurposed, refinished, or upcycled into something new. Garage sales often start on Friday or Saturday, so if you have some free time this weekend, take a walk around your neighborhood and discover some vintage for yourself!

Vintage Identification (Is it really Vintage?)

The identification of vintage items is not a science. Oh, it's easy if a manufacturers mark, copyright or item name is found on a piece, but what if there's no information to be found?  That's when the research begins - on the internet, in books, and through experts or appraisers. Research is the key to all successful vintage collecting or selling. Often, however, there IS NO information to be found on a particular item. Examining style, wear, patina, quality of workmanship, composition, etc usually give an accurate picture of age. Unusual and unique items are often compared to similar items of the same era. As one becomes more familiar with vintage items, it becomes easier to recognize these characteristics. Reputable vintage dealers will do the best they can to honestly describe all pieces in detail.

Vintage is a variable market and pricing often reflects collector interest at the time of sale. Prices are constantly changing and will vary from vendor to vendor.  When purchasing or selling any item, consider the value it has for you, but don't be afraid to be flexible. Today's inexpensive vintage may be tomorrow's sought after collectible or a highly prized antique may lose considerable value almost overnight.

Pricing for Resale

Browsing through any collectibles price guide, the inexperienced collector will assume a new acquisition is a monetary goldmine. Then they become frustrated and don't understand why their item won't sell at book price. Any item is worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for it, and prices in most books reflect the highest retail value that can be expected for an item in mint condition. To determine to actual price you can expect to receive for your item requires lots of research. Price guides are great to determine the relative value of one item over another, but that's not necessarily what things are actually selling for.
I usually start my research on Ebay. I search completed listings for the specific item, and for similar items, to see what they actually sold for, including shipping. I don't pay any attention to the asking price of unsold items, as they are often inflated. By checking sold items, I can see what someone is willing to pay. After my Ebay research, I often check out other selling sites such as Etsy, Artfire, and Bonanza.

If you sell at a local collectibles mall, as I do, or at a flea market, you'll also want to check out the prices of your competitors items. Price your stuff too high, and customers will migrate to other booths. Price too low, and they'll wonder what's wrong with your stuff! Always price an item with consideration to it's condition. Two booths may sell the same pyrex bowl... one for $12.00, and another for $8.00. Why? Condition.. condition.. condition.

Then there's always the problem of selling something that you can't find anywhere and have no idea of it's worth! I often find myself in this position because I look for the unusual. In that case, I price according to what I would pay for it. Sometimes it sells, sometimes not, but then I have a cool collectible for my own use! I never buy anything I don't like.


Amazing Walking Treasures at the Thrift Store

On one of my thrift store outings I found a couple of items amidst all the junk scattered on the shelves. It was really a mess, and the employees were bringing in more donations and stuffing them wherever they could find room. Lots of new merchandise was sitting in a cart blocking the isle, so I parked my cart a few feet away and continued searching for goodies. I was only away from the cart a minute or two, and when I returned it was empty! I quickly asked the store employee if she had emptied my cart and was answered with a definite "NO, I didn't touch it!" So I glanced around into the nearest carts, thinking maybe someone had picked them up, but I guess no one else had my taste! Resigned to the fact that I lost my treasures, I started looking at what new items the employee was stocking, and what did I see but my priceless treasures back on the shelf! I guess they must have jumped out of the cart by themselves since she didn't move them! Anyway, the moral of the story is this: Don't ever leave your finds unattended. They may walk away never to be seen again!

Garage Sales - My Pet Peeves!

Pet Peeve #1: Signs
Ok - so I'm out driving on a beautiful Saturday morning ready to do some garage sale buying. I see a sign with an arrow, so I make a quick turn and start following the directives. After about 6 turns I realize - NO SALE TODAY - the inconsiderate sellers never took their signs down from a previous sale. There should be a law! I've learned not to believe signs. I stop at unadvertised sales only if I can see them from the road I'm traveling. More than not, it's just a waste of time and gas to follow the arrows!

Pet Peeve #2: Ads
HUGE SALE YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Sales with this type of advertising often turn out to be a single table with junk and lots of used clothing. I just want to know what's for sale. Then I'll decide if there might be something I want!

Pet Peeve #3: No Prices
I'll be more inclined to buy stuff when I don't have to ask the price of every single item. No prices = no sales from me unless it's something I'm really interested in. On the other hand, when everything is priced, I'll often grab something just because it's a good deal.

Pet Peeve #4: Pushy Sellers
I know what I want. Sellers don't. So I don't like a tour. I don't want to hear about how wonderful everything is and how I'd be getting a great bargain and how they could sell it on Ebay for so much more!

So now I want to know - what are some of your pet peeves?

Shopping Strategies for Yard Sales and Thrift Stores

My Shopping Strategies for Garage Sales
 ◦Make a map, visual or mental, of the route you plan to follow. A GPS is your best option, but we all don't have that luxury of owning one.
◦Bring lots of single bills. There's nothing more embarrassing than finding a $0.50 treasure and having to pay with a $20 bill.
◦Bring some snacks and something to drink so you don't have to stop at fast food. ◦Buy what you like. Don't buy things just because they're cheap.
◦Don't insult the seller by offering a ridiculously low price on any item. If something is priced fairly and you can afford it, cough up the dough!
◦You can often purchase a number of items for one price. Keep adding stuff to your pile and then ask the seller what he/she would take for it all.
◦Don't believe everything you're told. Make up your own mind about the quality and history of an item. I doubt if that desk was really used by George Washington!


For Thrift Stores and Second Hand Shops
◦Make sure you know what time every store opens! Too many times I've arrived too early and have had to sit in the car for a half hour or more, wasting precious treasure hunting time!
◦Thrift stores are not garage sales. Many are run by charitable organizations. I don't bargain or asked for a lower price unless the item is grossly overpriced.
◦Watch you cart. I've seen things disappear.
◦My very favorite rule: If you pick something up twice, you better go home with it! If you don't, you'll be sorry. I've broken this rule too many times, so I know from experience!

Pricing Your Handmade Items

It's funny how some individuals have no clue about the work and effort that goes into handmade items. I remember selling my altered art pieces at a show, and among other things I had a few bottle cap magnets and pendants. I was taken by complete surprise when an older woman remarked to me "You're selling these for $3? You get the bottle caps for free!" I quickly responded that: The caps are not free. I have to purchase them new and it takes time and hard work to create a piece of art! Maybe it was her age, maybe she didn't like my work, or maybe she just thought I was taking advantage of people. She said nothing and left.

That started me thinking about just how much time and effort go into any handmade item. I've broken the creative process down into four categories: Development, Implementation, Assessment and Marketing.

Development: the planning stage. 
What am I going to do? Is there a theme? What is the design?
What supplies do I need? Where can I buy them? How much will they cost?
What will I do with the finished product? Do I keep it, sell it, or give it away?
How long will it take me to complete?


Implementation: getting to work
Purchase all necessary supplies.
Gather together the specific items needed.
Experiment with various techniques to find the right one for your project.
Assemble your creation.
Re-assemble your creation when the first one isn't to your liking!
Fine tune and clean up your finished piece.
and sometimes - Start all over again because it's all wrong!!

Assessment: analyzing your handiwork
Did your work come out as expected?
Did it take too long?
Are you happy with it? Would you make it again?
Is it good enough to sell or give away? If yes, then proceed to Marketing. If no, keep it for yourself!

Marketing: selling your handiwork
Will I sell online, in a store, or at a show?
How much can I sell it for? How much would I pay for a similar item?
When calculating pricing, don't forget the cost of supplies, cost of marketing, and payment for your time.
Okay - back to my bottle cap artwork. Now that I've thought about this whole thing, I think I better raise my prices! $3.00 seems like a bargain to me!


Quality of Vintage

Vintage Quality

Vintage items were made to last and have withstood the test of time. Many pieces were manufactured with superior workmanship and quality, unlike some of the mass produced pieces made today. Pick up a piece of vintage pottery and notice it's weight. Look at the detail and craftsmanship found in vintage clothing. Play with a toy that won't break in a child's hand. Read a book with beautiful illustrations instead of reading a digital version.


In today's economy, the number of customers frequenting thrift and second hand shops continues to increase. Garage sales are becoming more numerous. People are buying clothes and household items at a fraction of what they would pay for new. Even worn or broken items can be repurposed, refinished, or upcycled into something new. So if you have some free time this Friday or Saturday, take a walk around your neighborhood garage sales and discover some vintage for yourself!


How to Identify and Price Vintage


The identification of vintage items is not a science. Oh, it's easy if a manufacturers mark, copyright or item name is found on a piece, but what if there's no information to be found? That's when the research begins - on the internet, in books, and through experts or appraisers. Often, however, there IS NO information to be found on a particular item. In that case, style, wear, patina, quality of workmanship, composition, etc, usually give an accurate picture of age. Unusual and unique items are sometimes compared to similar items of the same era.

Vintage is a variable market and pricing often reflects collector interest at the time of sale. Prices are constantly changing and will vary from vendor to vendor. We just do the best we can. When purchasing or selling any item, consider the value it has for you, but don't be afraid to be flexible. Today's inexpensive vintage may be tomorrow's sought after collectible or a highly prized antique may lose considerable value almost overnight.