Subscribe to Cool Vintage Finds Scouting Blog What we’ve learned from selling on eBay
For the past five years, we've been serious sellers on the eBay platform, offering our estate sale discoveries in our Cool Vintage Finds Store. We've learned a few things through this experience, that's for sure. iIf you've ever thought about becoming an online seller or are just curious about the gig, here are some insights into what it's all about. (Almost) anything will sell eventually. It's a big world. There's a market for just about everything—it's just a matter of connecting to...
For the past five years, we've been serious sellers on the eBay platform, offering our estate sale discoveries in our Cool Vintage Finds Store. We've learned a few things through this experience, that's for sure. iIf you've ever thought about becoming an online seller or are just curious about the gig, here are some insights into what it's all about.
(Almost) anything will sell eventually.
It's a big world. There's a market for just about everything—it's just a matter of connecting to buyers. We've had items languish in our store for several years, then sell out of the blue. Nowadays, having learned from trial and error what's desirable in today's marketplace, we're a little less likely to list duds. But even duds sell with patience! Condition, price and rarity all factor into the speed of an item's sale. Traffic also matters; we need eyes on our stuff at just the right time to close the deal. For the most part, we "set it and forget it"—until it sells!
These gorgeous Anchor Hocking mugs didn't sell as quickly as we thought they would. It took over two years, but eventually found a new home!
We found 5 unopened bottles of vintage Hai Karate men's aftershave and promptly listed them in our store. They flew off the shelf! (If we ever run into it again, we'll be sure to snap it up.)
Most buyers (and sellers) are honest and kind.
If you hang out in the selling blogs or online seller facebook groups, you might get the impression that the marketplace is loaded with people trying to pull a fast one and get something for nothing. Our experience tells us otherwise. The vast majority of our customers are respectful, cheerful shoppers who are delighted to find something in our store, willing to pay a fair price and grateful when their purchase arrives intact. Like the saying goes, if you want to attract more bees, pour on the honey. We've seen grumpy customers change their tune when we simply acknowledge their concern. Here are two examples of exchanges that could have gone south quickly: twice in the last six months, a customer contacted us to say they didn't receive what they ordered in the box that arrived from us. Instead of sending an irate email suggesting they're trying to scam us, we responded by very nicely asking them to check the packaging again. In one case, the buyer had hurriedly unpacked a box containing two items and missed one of item entirely! In the other instance, because we had used a recycled box, the buyer thought they had received file folders! Both led to happy endings. On the rare occasion of a truly difficult customer, we do our best to please them, but if they persist in being unpleasant, we don't engage in a war of words. Instead, we just move on to the happier campers.
We get great feedback from our customers, who are overwhelmingly pleasant and happy buyers.
USPS is an excellent partner.
Last year, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivered an average of 20.5 million packages per day throughout the year, with deliveries spiking to more than 28 million daily packages deliveries during the two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday. That's a gargantuan load of mail to manage! Lost packages and other delivery errors are extremely rare. We've never had a lost package, though a few times a box was misdirected and took a little longer than expected to arrive at its destination. For that reason, and the fact that we have an amazing postal carrier who works very hard to see that our packages are picked up in a timely manner, we ship most of our orders with USPS. Once in a while, when we have a very heavy or extra large box, we may choose a different carrier, but the vast majority of our packages go by USPS.
Our mail carrier is super conscientious and always has our back; this reminder is for subs that take his route on his occasional day off.
USPS provides daily pickup at our doorstop. Our carrier provide us with USPS bins to fill with packages.
Free shipping is unrealistic for small sellers.
Ebay, Amazon and Etsy push sellers to offer free shipping. Buyers may love it, but it's not a sustainable arrangement for the majority of solo entrepreneur online sellers. Either the buyer pays for free shipping through an inflated price, or the cost falls on the backs of small sellers (and these costs are back-breaking). The fact is, it is expensive to ship things. Sellers must acquire or purchase shipping materials (boxes or mailers; bubble wrap, foam or paper; and don't forget tape) and take the time to package with care. These costs apply on top of postage.
About two years ago, we succumbed to pressure from eBay and decided to offer free shipping across the board (domestic only, of course). We were assured our sales would increase to offset whatever costs we would eat shipping items across the U.S. Well, after more than one year of this experiment, we found no improvement in our sales. In fact, shipping costs made a significant gouge in our ability to realize a profit. We've returned to charging a reasonable fee for shipping. For the most part, customers understand that the volume of our business does not permit free shipping and are willing to pay to have the items they desire shipped to their homes.
We recycle boxes in an effort to keep shipping costs down and reduce our carbon footprint.
The eBay Global Shipping Program works well for international shipping.
We are happy to sell to overseas customers, and we have on many occasions. However, we've found that the only way to viable way for our business to manage the shipping piece is to rely on the eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP). Our store stocks a wide variety of items, with different weights and dimensions when it comes to shipping. It would be too hard for our two-person shop to pre-package and calculate shipping for myriad countries. Instead, we simply ship to one US address and GSP takes care of the rest, including any customs forms that need to be completed. Customers may pay a little extra for this service, but they also benefit by knowing their purchase is protected in the event it arrives damaged. We also have a handful of international customers who purchase through a shipping service that manages OUS shipments.
As sellers of unique, one-off items, we've found that the eBay Global Shipping Program is the best way to manage overseas shipments, with protections for both buyers and sellers.
The market and the rules change all the time.
Since we've been selling online, we've seen drastic swings in the going price of many collectibles. For example, our very first eBay transaction was the sale of a first edition book for over $100. In today's market, that book might fetch $10 at best. Because so many booksellers have put their entire inventories, only very rare or unique books command a high price online. Similarly, Bing & Grondahl plates, Hummels, silverplate serving dishes and other popular items "back in the day" now sell for a small fraction of their original price. Demand for Arts & Crafts era decor is still relatively strong, while interest in Mid Century Modern is waning. A segment of Millennials are driving a growing interest in collectibles from as recent as the 1990s.
What's causing the downward shift in prices? Younger, minimalist globe trotters aren't shopping the same way their parents did. Baby Boomer estate liquidations are starting to glut the marketplace. But there's still opportunity for merchants who curate with care and offer stellar products and service. Even if Americans hit their limit, there's opportunity among international buyers.
Every day, new sellers jump onto the online bandwagon. Sites pop up to compete with the eBay platform. Trends come and go, and tastes change. Certainly the rules (and costs) of selling morph over time. In order to survive, eBayers need to be flexible and adapt to new policies and fluctuating demand.
Selling on eBay is no different than other enterprises—hard work pays off, but it takes time.
Share your eBay experience and/or questions!
Let us know what your eBay experience has been like, as a buyer or a seller. We're happy to answer your questions too. Thanks for reading!
Sensible Tips for Buying to Resell
If you get as excited as I do when treasure hunting, you need to be extra wary about your selections. It’s easy to get carried away with a “find” and overlook flaws that diminish value. You may feel rushed because there are other eager shoppers on all sides. Slow down and inspect the merchandise!Here’s a short guide to help you use your five senses to become a savvy reseller: SEE. Always, always, take a...
If you get as excited as I do when treasure hunting, you need to be extra wary about your selections. It’s easy to get carried away with a “find” and overlook flaws that diminish value. You may feel rushed because there are other eager shoppers on all sides. Slow down and inspect the merchandise!
Here’s a short guide to help you use your five senses to become a savvy reseller:
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Always, always, take a close look before you buy. Step into better lighting and brush away dust if necessary. Seasoned buyers carry a small flashlight and a magnifying glass to help with this important task. When inspecting glass and ceramics, look for chips, cracks and crazing (a web or network of fine cracks). Examine linens for holes, snags, fraying, fading or spots. Look for identifying marks or labels, which are especially helpful if you don’t have other expertise to rely on. It never hurts to assess value in the marketplace by scanning eBay completed sales or a similar resource that catalogues items sold. Condition is a key determiner in helping you resell at the highest price, so look with care. That said, many buyers are willing to put up with small flaws, with full disclosure.
Odors are a bane to buyers and can be difficult to remove. Take note when you enter a home and be on guard if you detect mildew or smoke—common culprits that can destroy a desirable item. Airing and washing items can sometimes eliminate smells but this involves time and hassle and may not be satisfactory. Cat urine is particularly difficult to remove and noxious to the nostrils (no offense to felines intended). There is also a rather mysterious odor that tends to creep into the homes of the elderly. If something stinks, trust your instincts and rest assured it will smell even worse when you remove the item from its environment, which often masks much of the smell. Pass on moldy or musty items—these odors spread when stored with pristine inventory.
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Your sense of touch can be invaluable when assessing the condition and value of estate sale items—and are especially useful when shopping for glass and ceramic items. Fingertips can spot a rough edge or chip faster than the eyes. When inspecting linens, a perceptive touch can discern synthetic from natural fibers. Fingers can also detect seams in ceramics that differentiate molded versus hand shaped items or help distinguish real wood carvings from faux-wood resin pieces.
Listen to the chatter at sales. You may be able to pick up on history of items or gain insight into demand. Some sellers will have expertise to share, so it doesn’t hurt to inquire. Another way you can use your ears is when encountering mechanical items. If you hear something rattling around inside when you give it a gentle shake, you may be dealing with a broken thing-a-ma-jig. You can also improve your purchase decisions by listening to what your gut is telling you. If your inner voice says something is overpriced, negotiate or pass it by. If you’re being too sentimental, check your emotions at the door.
I’m using poetic license to invoke this “sense”—my true meaning refers to aesthetics. Is your taste in line with what’s popular? Are you good at uncovering rare and coveted niche items? The best shoppers have a knack for identifying cool stuff that people want right now. You can’t always predict what will sell, but if you keep an eye on the marketplace, you can improve your ability to spot hot items in high demand.
May fortune favor you as you hone your senses in the exciting field of treasure hunting. Good luck! 2018 Christmas Gift Ideas
No more vanilla Christmas presents—give cool vintage finds instead! There's a better way to get your Christmas shopping done this year, and it doesn't require fighting for a parking space or wandering the malls. Relax in the comfort of your own home and peruse the pages of the Cool Vintage Finds Store! You'll avoid a vanilla experience and instead find one-of-a-kind treasures for your family, friends and even yourself.Keep reading for ideas to help you have a more rewarding...
No more vanilla Christmas presents—give cool vintage finds instead!
There's a better way to get your Christmas shopping done this year, and it doesn't require fighting for a parking space or wandering the malls. Relax in the comfort of your own home and peruse the pages of the Cool Vintage Finds Store
! You'll avoid a vanilla experience and instead find one-of-a-kind treasures for your family, friends and even yourself.
Keep reading for ideas to help you have a more rewarding gift-giving experience!
Something special for your sweetie.
Our store offers dozens of categories to help you pinpoint the gift that will bring a smile to your honey's face. From clothing to jewelry, art & antiques and beyond, you'll encounter oodles of intriguing gift-worthy items to consider.
His and hers ... or his and his... or hers and hers ... coffee mugs just might hit the spot.
Something thoughtful for mom.
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Love the fragrance your mom used to wear when you were a kid? Chances are it's discontinued and she'd love to wear it again. Check our store for hard-to-find perfumes, colognes and eau de toilette from yesterday.
More mom-friendly ideas ...
Everyone can use a pretty tea towel.
It's always nice to have special occasion dishes on hand.
How about a collectible cookie jar?
Something special for dad.
Maybe Dad would enjoy a book with historical significance, a magazine with a personal connection, art that for his office or den or clothing to round out his wardrobe. Keep looking, you'll find just the right thing!
Clothes make the man, so get dad a sweater that expresses his inner coolness.
Hook your dad up with art that recalls the Old West.
Something cool for a sibling.
Maybe it's a t-shirt from your favorite band growing up or a long-lost toy. Or a poster from the movie you both were crazy about. Our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay is an ever-changing repository of cool stuff any bro or sis will appreciate, especially coming from you!
Shop our store and you might encounter a cool rock tee for a family member.
Cuz you're both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans, right?
Something awesome for your friends.
You know what your friends like! No probs acquiring nifty gifties for all your best buds, right here.
It may be a bit self-serving, but why not get something to equip your pal's bar?
Imagine a world with this cool poster. #Lennonforever
Something you've always wanted.
Don't neglect yourself while you do your Christmas shopping! Pick out a gift you've been craving so there's at least one package under the tree you know you really want.
Buy yourself a sweet reminder of a furry friend.
Shop now for quick shipping and happier holidays!
Halloween Monster Pocket Screamers
When you shop the Cool Vintage Finds Store
on eBay, your purchases will be shipped promptly and with care! If you're buying a gift that you'd like shipped to an address other than your own, be sure to add the alternate address to PayPal before buying. Happy shopping!
Creepy modern day Halloween collectibles So a while back we came across one of these vinyl squeezable creatures that makes a blood curdling sound when you squeeze its belly. It was strange enough to pique my curiosity and prompt me to assume someone out there is probably collecting these dudes. Turns out they have a variety of names—Halloween Screamers, Cacklers, Monsters, Screechers, among others—and shape shift from season to season, with different manufacturers and...
Creepy modern day Halloween collectibles
So a while back we came across one of these vinyl squeezable creatures that makes a blood curdling sound when you squeeze its belly. It was strange enough to pique my curiosity and prompt me to assume someone out there is probably collecting these dudes. Turns out they have a variety of names—Halloween Screamers, Cacklers, Monsters, Screechers, among others—and shape shift from season to season, with different manufacturers and varieties filling the market.
I did some research, determined the going price and listed our discovery in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay. Sure enough, it sold pretty quickly. So naturally we've been on the hunt for more screamers to satisfy the collectors who want to fill their pockets (and shelves) with these fascinating monsters.
This past summer, we came across a handful of pocket screamers dating back a few years. Again, these early screamers flew off our shelves. In the process, we had a conversation with Hugo, a customer and collector with his finger on the pulse of the pocket screamer craze.
"They use to come out like crazy in the beginning. over the years they have trickled down to only a few stores now. Use to be Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Jewels grocery stores, oh, and Party City was good for some classic ones. The ones with hair are the older ones and considered classics."
Cool Vintage Finds Store customer
Hugo was kind enough to share a pic of his collection of "way too many screamers." We think it's awesome!
Hugo's good friend maintains a Pocket Screamer page
with an extensive compendium of screamer personalities—a page I had consulted to identify our monsters. Hugo got a kick out of that ... apparently his friend named the creatures himself, and his nomenclature has caught on—not just by us, but others as well! (Check out "The Screamers" to learn more about each variety.)
Be forewarned, this page features the creepy screams, cackles and moans of the screamers, so you may want to turn down the volume on your device if you're viewing in a public place (or you may just scare the be-jebuzz out of those within hearing range)!
For the ultimate authority on pocket screamers, Hugo recommended we visit the BOO-GLEECH blog
Start your screamer collection now
It's not always easy to find these Halloween noisemakers, with eyes that light up and sounds that send a chill up your spine, but the hunt is half the fun! We'll keep looking and we encourage you to, too. For Halloween 2018, it looks like Kroger's is the place to hit up for the newest abominations.
Here's what Hugo is stocking up on this season!
To see what we have in our inventory, check out the Halloween Scene
in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!
Finding the best eBay stores
It's an urban myth that eBay started as a Pez container exchange for the founder's girlfriend, but the online marketplace still serves collectors. This group of Pez containers is part of a set that recently sold for over $600 on eBay. In 2018, shopping on eBay is a whole different animal than when the online marketplace first opened its doors in 1995. Pierre Omidyar started eBay in his living room on a whim, as a way to enable person-to-person trading arrangements. (The tall tale that...
It's an urban myth that eBay started as a Pez container exchange for the founder's girlfriend, but the online marketplace still serves collectors. This group of Pez containers is part of a set that recently sold for over $600 on eBay.
In 2018, shopping on eBay is a whole different animal than when the online marketplace first opened its doors in 1995. Pierre Omidyar started eBay in his living room on a whim, as a way to enable person-to-person trading arrangements. (The tall tale that Omidyar did it to sell his girlfriend's Pez containers has since been dismissed as marketing fiction.) The site grew quickly but took a few years to become the magnificent beast it is today.
With millions of merchants vying for customers, even the very best eBayer stores can get lost among the masses.
Fast forward to 2018 and there are more than 25 million sellers on eBay and 175 million shoppers at any given time. In recent years, eBay has modified its search algorithms in mysterious ways that affect search results and seem to limit how often a seller's items are viewed (presumably to keep more sellers alive).
The sky's the limit on eBay, making it hard to choose where to shop. (Img source: Pixabay.com)
As owners of an eBay store, we're often challenged to get eyeballs on our merchandise, and we know shoppers on eBay can be similarly frustrated when trying to find what they want, particularly in collectibles, where availability is often limited. That's the reason behind The Best eBay Stores directory
: we want to help quality eBay stores get in front of more customers AND help eBay customers find these sellers so they will have the very best experience possible and return again and again!
All of the eBays stores listed in The Best eBay Stores directory meet criteria to ensure you're dealing with trusted, proven sellers offering a phenomenal variety of merchandise. (Image source: rawpixel.com)
To create the director
y (which is an independent entity, not endorsed by eBay or its affiliates, by the way), we've established criteria that help ensure a good shopping experience. That means limiting the list to sellers who've been around for at least 5 years, own an eBay store and have had at least 500 transactions. We also look at feedback ratings and require that it be 98% or higher. Lastly, we've decided to focus this directory on sellers who specialize in vintage and antique collectibles and clothing (new merchandise merchants are left to their own devices).
Browse and shop with confidence on eBay, with guidance from our directory of trusted eBay stores.
So that's the scoop! Go ahead and check out our directory
now. Share it on your social platforms if you feel inspired. Contact us
to recommend yourself or a qualified eBay store owner. We hope our directory
will prove useful to everyone involved. Thanks for reading!
Build your antique alphabet block collection
We recently attended an estate sale where I discovered a box of antique wood blocks. The box contained four unique groups of blocks, which are now offered in our store.Early alphabet blocks are hand carved and painted. They often feature word pictures and numbers as well as letters. The blocks shown above and below are 1.75" cubes with a color stripe painted across the sides with raised letters.Antique blocks that have been played with and passed down over decades are rarely in original...
We recently attended an estate sale where I discovered a box of antique wood blocks. The box contained four unique groups of blocks, which are now offered in our store.
Early alphabet blocks are hand carved and painted. They often feature word pictures and numbers as well as letters. The blocks shown above and below are 1.75" cubes with a color stripe painted across the sides with raised letters.
Antique blocks that have been played with and passed down over decades are rarely in original pristine condition. In my opinion, flaws that develop over the years such as wormholes, chips or fading simply add to the character of old blocks.
Carved letters and numbers are often painted with different colors on opposing sides. Word pictures on the sides of blocks can be flat or carved.
Blocks with ridges are another variation found in this lot of blocks. The ridges help the blocks stay together when they're stacked.
The letters are carved out rather than raised, while the word pictures are raised (the green zebra, for example). These blocks are smaller than the others, roughly 1.25" cubed.
These blocks are quite lovely old things. There's plenty of wear, but no limit to their decorative value and allure to collectors. Just imagine how they entertained and educated little ones long ago.
Naturally, some old alphabet toys are worth more than others. Complete sets typically fetch higher prices. The sets shown below sold at prices starting $95 up to $1500 (images and information from Worthpoint.com.
Item sold by Etsy shopkeeper MilkweedVintageHome.
This charming set is blocks is more desirable because of the handmade vehicle that holds them.
These cute figural alphabet blocks are called Schoenhuts Alphies and date to 1882.
Victorian obelish alphabet block sets such as the one shown here are highly sought after and command a high price due to their rarity.
Vintage and antique blocks look great just as they are, displayed on a shelf in a nursery, kitchen or den. Some collectors like to complete the alphabet or spell out words. If you're the crafty type, check out Etsy to get ideas for upcycling old blocks into new and fun home accents. Whatever you do, don't pass up that box of blocks when you encounter them at a sale or thrift store down the road.
Visit our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay to get your block fix or simply to peruse a fascinating assortment of merchandise.