Thursday, August 27, 2015

Craiglist Forever (Wheelin' and Dealin' at She Was a Bird)

Good morning!!

Man oh man, it's opposites day here at She Was a Bird...instead of telling you all about the vintage stuff I've been BUYING (and there's still been a steady stream of that, we'll get to some new finds next week), how about a story about selling? That's right, I should never say never, because I have spent years saying it was too much trouble to clear out my attic/utility room/closet/every available square space of my house to make room for new collections-- well, let me tell you, I've been cleaning out and rehoming some stuff, and it feels GRAND.

Wanna hear all about it?

Don't worry, I'm still buying things, as you can see from this photo, taken in the wild from last weekend. :)

A couple weeks ago, I went up into the attic to look for a box of Hawaiian dresses in preparation for a tiki-appropriate dress code for a social event (like you do). On top of a pile of boxes was a bar cart I'd picked up at a yard sale and had been meaning to do something to that a trunk that I was going to clean up...across from a man sized ziplock bag (not sure why they make them in this size, it's so enabling for us clothes hoarders) of vintage coats and dresses. "How did all this accumulate?" I asked myself, before doing another spot check of my person for spiders and switching off the naked bulb that illuminated the space. Over the entire den in my house is a wooden floorboard attic, and every square inch of it was full of S-T-U-F-F stuff. I definitely couldn't tell what was in a lot of it by my seemingly purposefully cryptic labels in magic marker ("DRESSES S/M/L ALL TO KEEP VINTAGE" is less helpful than you'd think it would be when there are fourteen identical boxes labelled the same), and seeing as it is hotter than the hubs of Hades up there at any point the sun is out, I've taken to planning my attic assault by taking a box or two down, going through it, and sorting it in the good old fashioned way: keep, toss, donate, sell. That last category is where things have gotten interesting in the last few weeks.

Can you spot the children's piano, crate of Life magazines, 1960's endtable, picnic basket, 1950's suitcase, and bright orange traincase in this photo? I can but I wish I couldn't!
Much like my steadfast conviction, five or six years ago, that there was nothing at the flea market except as-seen-on-tv junk and homemade soaps and other non-antiques (how mistaken could I be!), I was equally prejudiced and equally wrongheaded about selling things on Craigslist. I don't know where this preconception came from, but before starting to sell things, I was positive that there was zero market for the kinds of non-furniture vintage smalls I've been sitting on for weeks, months, years and I might as well give the stuff to Goodwill instead of trying to hawk it on the internet. Doesn't everyone on Craigslist buy like used cars, outboard motors, big pieces of contemporary furniture, or surplus renovation materials? I know I've found a piece of vintage furniture or two on the site, but when it came to a lot of the kind of stuff I like (small, less than 100 years old, cheap), I can remember seeing the same two lamps or the same 1950's piggy bank sit on the site for what seems like years without finding a happy home.

When I mentioned downsizing, lots of my friends suggested eBay or Etsy, but I've heard my share of horror stories with regard to buyers not reading the condition info, turning up their noses at non-mint-condition items, saying they never got an item, etc, etc. With working full time, I don't exactly have a lot of time, energy, or patience to make online selling a successful habit, so I thought, heck, I'll put some stuff up on Craigslist and see what happens.

To get straight to the point, what happened was, I made A BOATLOAD of money.

Take exhibit A:

Shown in the ad with and without window dressing, haha...I just borrowed things from my in-use bar cart to feather out the image a little.
This, the aforementioned bar cart from the attic, was slung over a stack of boxes. I was using one of the glass plates to protect my Silvertone radio console/nightstand in my bedroom from getting scratched up, the other plate was behind said radio, and this frame was hanging out in the attic. It was really the impetus behind this whole selling thing, because what a CLASSY piece of merchandise to be being treated like an old shoe. I found a piece of plexiglass at an estate sale for a dollar to replace in service of the Silvertone, windexed the heck out of the thing, and put it on Craigslist with an asking price of $100. This seemed steep to me, as I'd paid only $10 for it at a yard sale on my street, but as other carts were selling for as much if not more on the Nashville site, I added the necessary "hollywood regency", "mad men", "vintage retro" word tags to my listing and crossed my fingers. Keep in mind the only work I'd put into it whatever was the windex treatment-- no spray paint, no refurbishing, nada.

Within an hour, I had three emails asking about the cart-- not even to check it out or give it a looksee, but offering cash money in hand for it at my soonest convenience! You could have knocked me over with a feather. Telephone arrangements were made, we met at a public place in Inglewood, and I was $90 richer. Who would have thought?! Anybody but me, I'm sure.

Since then, I've been listing things left and right as I can from the attic and the second bedroom/office in my house. As I've been telling people who've been buying the stuff, it's all GREAT stuff, I just don't have room for it anymore-- and that's the God's truth. The goal, ultimately, is to get that room completely cleaned out in the next year to house our future progeny (though I did point out to Matthew that technically any room a baby lives in is "the baby's room"...even if that room is full of 1960's house decorating manuals and stacks of new wave singles on 45s). In order to keep the things I like, I think 90% of the stuff in the attic has got to gooooo. And especially areas of collecting where I have WAY. TOO. MANY. of a certain thing.

Case in point? Hats. Oh, Lord, the number of hats I have bought in my lifetime.

"But Lisa, you love hats!" And as I'm sure I've mentioned a dozen times or so on this blog and hundreds of times in the real world-- I love hats, hats don't love me! My rule for the last ten years or so as been if it's less than $10 and it's stylin', buy now ask questions later. This left me with, oh, right around 60 some odd hats floating around, forty plus of which do not fit my oversized head. I went all Kon Mari and piled them in a chair in the living room, and started taking pictures at the kitchen table (with the help of this wig mannequin I bought at a Michael Taylor sale a while back...I knew it would come in handy eventually!). I put them up on Craigslist and waited...and waited...and waited. Nothing. My initial success with the bar cart had left me primed for disappointment, I guess.

But then....

About two weeks into the post, I got an email from a  super nice girl representing a group in a small town in west Tennessee. They're doing a WWII themed homecoming this year, and needed clothes and hats and sundries to wear and to decorate store windows in the town square as if it were 1945. Would you believe, they drove all the way up to Nashville to buy almost all the hats I'd displayed and a bag of purses, to boot! I couldn't believe it. En plus, the woman who bought the hats forwarded my supplementary flickr folder of items for sale to another person in the group who bought two boxes of further stuff I hadn't even listed on CL yet. SUCCESSSS......

Other things I've sold so far:

  • Mid century pole lamp (bought at 75% off sale from the last post with the china, got home, realized I had nowhere to put it, sold it at great profit to someone who loves it = win/win)
  • 25 vintage dresses, one 1970's yellow tuxedo jacket [miss you til I join was too big for Matthew :'( ]
  • Two vintage radios (don't worry, I still have like 10 more to make a keep/sell decision on)
  • Two barcarts (the second is on the right here...the barware and jackelope decanter stay with me, though!!)
  • A Butterprint Pyrex dish (which I only sold in order to keep myself from trying to collect more...I need another collection like I need another hole in my head...)
  • 40 something hats
It doesn't sound like a lot, but oh my gosh, it feels like a lot. So here's a fond adieu to some of the stuff I've already sold, and boy, am I looking forward to the stuff I'm going to sell/donate in the future. It's been great actually seeing some of the things I'd had squirreled away for years and years UNDER all these things I'm ready to get rid of, so there's a silver lining to it other than the monetary reward or re-selling! I feel way less like the people on Hoarders when I can, with great discernment and personal dignity, tell Matthew that I AM keeping the Mexican embroidered tourist jacket in that plastic bag, but that he may take these three seventies' maxidresses "that never fit quite right but I was going to do something with them" to Goodwill (after I've noted them down on a piece of paper for our itemized tax deduction...props to Goodwill for updating their site so you can keep track of these things online after you donate!). With the caveat of "quick, quick, put them in the car before I change my mind!" following swiftly on the heels of that statement, but hey...progress is progress. :)

How about you? Been on any massive clean-out binges lately? Have you ever sold or bought things on Craigslist? How did the experience treat you? Any tips for beginners? Let's talk!

That's all for today but I'll be back next week with some things I bought (you didn't think I'd done a COMPLETE 180 from collecting...never!). Until then, happy hunting! Talk to you next time.

PS: Not long after posting this, I was going through estate sale listings for this weekend and saw this-- it's the same cart! $200! #nowidontfeelsobad #mustabeenapopularbrand.  -Lisa


  1. I read the Kon Mari book (and think she's crazy, but has some merit), and over the past few weeks I've purged SO MUCH and reorganized pretty much every cupboard and closet in our apartment. I've also sold quite a few items via Poshmark (good for fast fashion and brand-name clothes) and in the past a few things via Craigslist. it just feels so good to love the things in your home and not feel overwhelmed by junk. I realized I'd held onto bedding that I hated, so two comforter sets went to Goodwill and suddenly there was SO MUCH room in the closet!

    1. EXACTLY, "overwhelmed by junk" hits the nail right on the head. The hardest part of the clean up for me has been getting rid of things I actually like but don't love. It's a piece of cake to throw out old tupperware or the millionth pen that doesn't work in my desk, because it reads as obviously something worth tossing, but the "oh, but I might use that" wishful thinking buys (especially glassware/servingware) or the fourteenth pair of black cotton wrist length gloves (but I LOVE wrist length gloves...but who in their right mind has more than a dozen?) has been difficult. I just keep trying to think "but can you *enjoy* the things you have if there are one million things falling out of every chifferobe/cabinet drawer/closet?".

      But you're right, it will feel great to have it gone once I make a bigger dent, I think. Thanks for the positive vibes!! :D

  2. Been selling some of my cast iron pieces lately... I figure i probably do not need that 14th and 15th piece of le creuset...

    1. Haha, an embarrassment of riches! I totally know what you mean, though.

  3. That is amazing about the hats!! I love the fact that you outfitted a whole town. It's what Hallmark Channel movies are made of! I dabbled in resale when I was jobless and it was fun/thankless. I got really upset when people turned their noses up at condition issues that were blaringly spelled out. People are dicks. Lesson learned.

    A couple additional asides. I wish I had known about that yellow tux jacket. I would have scooped that up for Jamie in a heartbeat as he has a fondness for vintage jackets (he has aplenty) but has long monkey arms. That might have fit the bill. I have thought about going full Con-Mari with him (especially after following Rae's successes) because he has a strong affection for stuff...and I am really no better.

    Additionally, I love that having a mannequin head lying around and attending a tiki party do not surprise me. I'm glad we are friends.

    1. I try, try, TRY to be as benefit-of-the-doubt-giving as I can, but when I've answered the third email about Pyrex that says "Does it have chips/cracks? Do you have the lids?" when it specifically says in the listing, "no chips, no cracks, no lids", it does get on my last nerve. READ. READ THE AD. PLEASE READ THE AD.

      I wish I'd known you guys were looking for guy's vintage wear-- Matthew has been begging me to pare down his wardrobe to what will actually fit in the closet (I know, crazy, I was like...wha...?), I just ended up giving a ton of it to Goodwill. If I find any other kooky classics, I will email you first!

      And as am *I* glad we're friends! Thinking about putting together another blogger get together re: a certain documentary involving Kennedy relations we were talking about on Facebook. Because any excuse for a party is A GREAT EXCUSE FOR A PARTY. :) Will keep you in the loop!!

  4. I got back to my clean out after a few month hiatus. Travis has taken probably 15 big boxes to goodwill and another 15 trashbags have left the house! we have a big pile of vintage stuff and we're going to split a booth at the flea next month to see if we can make a little money. after that it will all go to goodwill! it really does feel good to send it out the door!

    1. Your blogs on Kon Mari have totally been inspiring-- so many people I know doing that clean out or a similarly inspired clean out have like four things in their house so I'm like, WHO WOULD EVEN NOTICE YOU GOT RID OF FIVE OF YOUR EIGHT SWEATERS. I have like 1,000,000 sweaters! It's a totally different ball game! Seeing a fellow collector go to the mattresses on that kind of stuff and be successful gives me hope. Can't wait to hear how the flea market turns out, hopefully you'll find your things some great new homes (and pocket some $$ to get more stuff, haha). :)

  5. I know it's not what this post is about, but MAN does that Jaymar child's piano take me back! I got one for Christmas when I was two, and loved it -- led to piano lessons. :)

    1. Aw, I love it! How neat!! :D I'm saving it for our future kiddlings-- Matthew's a piano player, so hopefully some of that great musical talent comes through in the genetic pool (I can't give 'em anything but a rabid interest in karaoke in that department, haha)!



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