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Does Anyone Else HAVE to Earn a Living in Vintage?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by denisebrain, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Because if so, I would love to know about you. I do earn a percentage of my living in music, but having given up a full-time job in music, I now have a full-time job in vintage and a very small side job in music. I have no familial support of any kind, and certainly no inheritance or anything like that. Some days (like today for instance!) I have my back to the wall and I wonder if I'm just shark bait ~~~~~~^~~~\o/~~~

    I love all I can learn here at the VFG, but when it comes to the ol' water cooler, my constant is: How Do You Make Ends Meet?
  2. BarbaraVilliers

    BarbaraVilliers Registered Guest

    I have switched from selling vintage fashion dolls to vintage lingerie as the doll businness is dead. I do have my husbands income at my disposal. So far I'm finding vintage lingerie to be more financially rewarding and the buyers are generally nicer. So I'm pleased with the way my businness is going as I only began a few months ago.
  3. noir_boudoir

    noir_boudoir Registered Guest

    I'm in a similar position re: no back up. There was a possibility this year that I might have upped my time selling vintage, if my current 'day job' contract had ended with nothing following.

    However, the opposite has happened - I'm about to start on something which is meaning the vintage selling will have to be very selective, the 'side-job'.

    Ironically, though, even with a new full time job, I'm not quite going to be making ends meet. Since I've got a huge amount of student debt, I can kind of stick my head in the sand a bit and put it all down to that.

    But it's frying pan and fire as far as financial choices are concerned!

    I think you've gone for the balance you must be more comfortable with from day to day, and I wonder if there are other possibilities. Is there any time or possibility for you to sell locally, where you might be able to charge higher-than-Ebay prices?

    The other avenue might be to expand your web presence based on the high auction profile you have. But a website takes more time and slows inventory clearance (if with slightly better profit margins).

    But it's tricky. Really I don't see a road to riches on either of my job paths... the key is to try and do the things you enjoy.

  4. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Thank you both for your thoughts.

    Lin, Spokane is a good place to buy, but a poor place to sell in my experience, and it is hundreds of miles from the nearest hot spot. I fetch better prices on eBay than I believe I could here in town.

    I've been contemplating more of a web presence (mall store, my own web site), and vintage shows. Both seem like monumental tasks given that I have to work each and every day just to keep my head above water, which it isn't half the time to be honest!

    Time is always of the essence, and so is money. My passion for this, after 6 years, is stronger than ever. At least there's that! I kind of wish my mother (a widowed single mom with us two kids) hadn't of said over and over "we've been living beyond our means for years, why lose our courage now?"
  5. Lin, Spokane is a good place to buy, but a poor place to sell in my experience

    Same where i live in the sense that if i were to open a space in a local antique shop, it wouldn't be much worth the energy.

    I would suggest as said above. Get some sort of a web site. Actually..this is easier than you think. I have seen your material girl bags site. Why not ad two pages to it....one showcasing your passion for vintage and alerting people that you sell it, and a few photos of things you have sold. And a links page. If you want to go a step further, you can even buy a domain name like denisebrain.com or something and have it "point" just to that one page for people to remember. Or eventually it can be a new site...but baby steps..if that is what you require...

    By swapping links...even beginning with just people here, you wll notice some traffic. Even if the whole purpose of it is to draw more people to your auctions beyond "who is surfing ebay at the moment" is a good thing.

    Also, don't be afraid to diversify. I have not sold vintage forever, but have been a commission sales person for a long time, and everything is a cyclical. There are times when there is a downturn in business at certain times of the year and it is purely psychological, and some times it isn't. Don't be afraid to pick up that necklace to cross sell with the dress to get the most bang out of it. Don't be afraid to mix it up around the holidays with that collection of vintage celebrity mags might make a great gift etc.

  6. bug12oz

    bug12oz Registered Guest

    You know I think we all live outside our means.......

    I am a stay home mom most of the time to my 3 kids. The vintage selling was something I felt I needed to do for my grandmother at first. I have always loved clothes and fashion, but just never thought of selling vintage as something I would enjoy. I have a habit of starting something, but somewhere down the line not finishing said project due to i would get bored. For me, I have realized that this is something that I really enjoy and I haven't bored with it yet. Not even close.

    I worked for several years at jobs, started doing vintage clothing sales in March,but then got laid off May. My husband got promoted to store manager of a mechanic shop about a week later, so we decided to instead of paying for daycare that I would just stay home.

    Surprising enough, we, as a couple, and as a family have never been happier. He does what he loves, and I get to spend time with the kids and take them to dance class, soccer and such, and sell vintage.

    I have the website and it has been a little slow in selling, but I am now at the point of selling something once a week. Had the website since March, opened it in April, had my sell in May and will be on the major search engines by Sept 1st.
  7. noir_boudoir

    noir_boudoir Registered Guest

    I think Chris' idea of expanding the material girl website could be quite good - you don't even need to quite have the click-and-buy facilities set up - if you have lovely stuff showing there at higher prices, you'll get enquiries.

    It's just the opposite here. I've just taken half a day off and scouted around the thrifts for the first time in a while. It's very grim - there's virtually nothing apart from a few 60s frocks selling for more than I'd get on Ebay. On the other hand, with the right opportunity and presentation, vintage would sell for a lot in this town (and does, from one or two places stocking it professionally).

    The UK is a little more vintage-starved (particularly for 40s-50s) than the US, and if someone were to have capital behind them, and a knack for niche-marketing, they could really make a go of it. Some people are, in London.
  8. I think a lot of it comes down to the typical traps of being self employed and not so much vintage specific: staying motivated, using your time wisely, how you handle interruptions. Also, how to manage your work space. These are the biggest things that can derail someone no matter what their knowledge level is.

    Folks who live with you (or folks that don't but KNOW you are home so you must be "free and available") must respect your time, or more so, you have to take it back from them. This might mean turning the ringer off when you are working for a few hours. It may mean answering the door and telling people "i would love to...but i am working right now, how about tonight?" If you don't, then you will never get time to work and your life will feel out of control. Instead of feeling like you have a "flexible schedule" you will feel like your life is upsidedown.
  9. I sell on Ebay half the year and the other half I own my own tax preparation business. If I didn't have that job to fall back on, then I couldn't do the Ebay thing.

    I just started my website and although I can count my sales on one hand, I am hoping that this will improve and become profitable.

    I actually have a storefront I could use to sell vintage clothing but I don't think it would be worth it in this town. I could advertise in nearby towns and see if that would attract them. I don't know.

    Another idea is just to open in the month of October when so many people buy vintage for Halloween. Then maybe the word would get out that vintage is not just for costuming but is quality clothing to be worn every day.
  10. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    Others have had excellent suggestions - all I can really add is that I share your pain!

  11. Beehive Vintage Goods

    Beehive Vintage Goods Trade Member

    More self promotion never hurts! One of our members (I think she is a UK gal) manages to get lots of mentions in fashion magazines. Free publicity rocks!!

    How about sending off a Press Release to the top magazines as well as local newspapers in your area and surrounding states. Constant Contact is great for promoting to your current customers too. Don't forget to add a little perk for your customers (% off shipping, etc.).

    It's tough, but sure beats working for the "big man".
  12. I am on a BIG marketing kick right now. I have been scouring the internet for magazines and places to add my link to. Marketing is key! I am starting to feel a little blue because for a while, I was having multiple sales a week, and now, NOTHING. Summer is always a bad season, I hear. So I have really been thinking about what kind of "presence" I want to have!

  13. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG President Staff Member

    Thank you again all, and you have my heartfelt wishes for your own success!! Bonnie, I actually hadn't thought of a press release, and if I can think of a unique angle, that would be interesting. I don't even know what Constant Contact is, but I will soon find out! I have really great repeat business, but perhaps there are more perks, as you mention. Yay! Great thoughts!

    Now if I could just find the time to pursue these ideas...
  14. BarbaraVilliers

    BarbaraVilliers Registered Guest

    I have been fortunate although living in London I have picked up items in shops and made a decent profit selling on Ebay, but vintage lingerie is a not an area many uk sellers specialise in so I have an advantage there. Also I am always trying new items. Recently it was vintage ballet shoes. Summer is always slow but this year I have had a better summer then for several years. Fortunately my husband is well paid and we are near the end of the mortgage two big advantages I think.I'm ruthless about time though, very single minded and nothing is allowed to interfere with business as my husband knows LOL
  15. Renderking Fisk

    Renderking Fisk Registered Guest

    I’m on the other end of the spectrum from where you are. I have nothing to sell but a way to advertise other people’s stores and market their products for them. I started my news site because I wanted to have one place to share my interests and my concerns while at the same time provide links to other web-sites that sell items that the readers are looking for.

    I’ve never thought about this before – but now I’m seriously thinking about making a career out of doing this for people other then my self.

    All I want to do now is host, build and manage vintage style web-sites for the community on line. My goal is to take what I’ve learned (and what I’ll continue to learn) and put that to use to help others out.

    With that said, I want to offer my support and share with you – and everyone else here - the skills I use each day. I’ve learned how to do things that will make it easier for search engines to find your sites, I know how to lay-out sites to make them attractive and readible, and I’ve found places to get business cards inexpensively and quickly.

    I want to offer what I do to other people like you - to free you from the hassle and worry of running a web-site - so you folks can concentrate on providing items to the vintage/retro community.

    Let me know if I can help.
  16. Vintagetrend

    Vintagetrend Registered Guest

    Hi Maggie,
    I am not too far from you, almost neighbors! I am in Blaine. I am in the exact situation that you are. No other income but my business. For two years I was purely Ebay. I have both my designer modern ID and my vintage ID... When one does not pull through the other usually does. That helps alot. My designer customers were the ones that pushed me to get my website up and started. It has done fairly well with very very little marketing (although a big marketing blitz is in the works) and the mall for another vintage venue has been really nice. The mall is worth every penny of it. So for about 5 years it has literally been sales of fashion on one venue or another is my only income.
    My main goal is to gain clients rather then customers or buyers.
    I have to say ends are met by long long hours and constantly going above and beyond for potential clients, self promoting and giving people a reason to look forward to working with me again.
    I have some ideas for you, things I have thought of since the first time I saw your auctions.. pop an email off to me if you are interested *smile*

  17. The toughest thing for most people is either recognizing your best attributes and /or tooting your own horn.

    I was so much more comfortable in some ways when i was a promoter for other people rather than for myself, plus buying, plus presenting, plus selling, plus web designing and all the other stuff i do for it. Thinking of yourself as a business though rather than as an individual helps sometimes. I am not very good/uncomfortable talking about myself, but I can talk about other people's websites, other people's businesses, or my business as an autonmous entity til the cows come home rather than "Me, vintage merchant" if that makes any sense.
  18. What everyone else said!

    Maggie, I am making my entire living on my online business. It's a lot of work, at least a hundred times more than anyone who doesn't do what we do could even imagine and I totally agree that time management is key. Being able to set boundaries for those who don't understand what we do is also very important and necessary. I had to stop my Mom from just showing up at my door to see what I was doing because once she was here I couldn't get anything else done. I felt bad but it was becoming a daily event and I was starting to feel stressed beacuse I wasn't getting my work done.

    Just as important though, is knowing when to take a break and doing something for yourself. If we're going to make a living we have to work hard but you don't want to burn out so take some time off and do something fun and not related to work every once in a while!

    Keep at it and be open to alternate ideas! You can do it!
  19. Ooh, I almost forgot, if it's possible, find yourself a mentor. Someone who has been in the business for a whlile who is willing to help you out and answer questions. Of course you have lots of mentors here, but if there is someone near you it can be oh so helpful.

    I was very fortunate to have made a good friend in this business early on. My friend, Linda White (some of you in this area may know her), has a beautiful shop near by and she has always been very generous with her knowledge, library and know how. It's been absolutely invaluable!
  20. Renderking Fisk

    Renderking Fisk Registered Guest

    Read this... I found it today during my news search.

    San Jose Mercury News - United States
    "Making money off vintage fashion... "

    There are people who have something to selll, and there are people looking to buy. The trick is to either find a way to bring people who are selling and buying together (I hope that's my job) or be someone who's selling something people want.

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