Hi everyone. Despite being under the weather, we did manage to pick up quite a few goodies this week. Actually, our biggest windfall was at 2 estate sales. One of them had an immense amount of pottery and ceramics at fairly reasonable prices. We had to hold back, because many of them were extremely large plates or planters. We've been extremelly challenged for storage space lately, so we try not to pick up big things unless they have significant value.
I'm going to have to make this short, because we're still participating in the ReSeller listing challenge for February, and we've got only one day to go! OK, here we go: picked up a nice older Hitachi radio from the late 70s. That one's pretty cool because the speakers fold out from the body. They had a ton of other radios there, but I didn't know anything about them so I had to pass.
I grabbed the yellow Dryden Pottery pitcher right in front of the radio at the aforementioned pottery sale. Actually, everything else in the photo, with the exception of the cool Erwin Kalla 60s coasters, is from that same place. I wish every estate sale was like that one...
The big 30s-40s art pottery flower bowl is from Winfield Pottery in Pasadena and was a great score. This is one of those gigantic heavy items that I ordinarily wouldn't have purchased, but I knew it had enough value (a previous seller had an old price tag on it ... he was trying to sell it for $500!). So I lugged it around with me for the whole hour I was at the sale. The rest of the items shown would probably qualify as "smalls" - increasingly, if I have a choice I'll always pick a small item over a big item. They're just so much easier to deal with.
The green cup, saucer and small tray are also Winfield pieces. These are from the later "Gabriel" era - but are still really nice and handmade. We still haven't cobbled together a gallery for Winfield on Potteries of California, but hoping to get around to that soon.
The little red sugar bowl is likely from another California pottery - the dark red color reminds me of Bauer, but that top handle shape is not familiar. Vernon and Metlox are also candidates. The Hazel Atlas pink creamer and yellow cups are from their "20th Century" line of the 50s - believe this was meant to be part of a child's tea set.
The little Swedish Dala horse is a Grannas Olsson piece. There were quite a few more of these but I ended up not getting them because they had too much wear. Lastly, the curious candleholder lady who's holding onto her hat is a bit of a mystery. I know I've seen this German candleholder before, but can't quite place it. Anyone know?
OK, going to get back to listing. Hope you all have great luck thrifting this coming week!
Hi everyone. We decided to put up our usual weekly thrifting post a bit early, since we've got a full weekend ahead of non-shop related things to work on (taxes being the number one thing).
Thursday is usually not a day we venture out to the thrifts, but I decided to change it up and came away with a few goodies for my trouble. One of the coolest finds was the interesting midcentury style wood and ceramic lamp. So far, have not been able to identify it - there aren't any markings we can see.
The shade that came with it was obviously added later, so we didn't even want it in the picture. We don't think it's any famous designer, and it probably isn't the nicest workmanship. But we rarely see lamps like these at affordable prices around here. Anyone have ideas who might have produced it?
The three orange plastic egg cups in the front are made by Rosti in Denmark. Rosti's hard plastic mepal items are a fun pick-up at thrifts, and they're actually extremely affordable if you want to try and make a set.
The album cover in the back is designed by Sam Suliman. He did a lot of older LP covers and books. We still aren't sure whether or not we're going to start selling LPs on the site. We come across interesting modern record covers fairly frequently - but we're just not sure if we want to get into that game. For now, we'll pick them up if they're reasonable. It's also fun to look for, because most of the "serious" record pickers don't focus as much on illustration.
Lastly, my heart leapt when I spotted this metal enamel flower sculpture sitting on the shelf. Curtis Jere, right? Nope, not in this case. It's actually signed with a different name, Ken Rains, and is probably a more recent production. I wasn't able to find out too much information about Rains, other than the fact that he did produce metal items similar to C Jere. Actually, the quality is quite nice. We'll probably put it up in the shop next week or so.
OK, hope you enjoyed this thrift roundup. We may not get another one for awhile, since we're going to try and concentrate more on listing items in the main shop and Etsy outlet, as opposed to acquiring more inventory.
Have a good weekend!
Hi everyone and welcome to Tuesday Tips. This is going to be the Branding and Identity section in our "How To Start A Reselling Business" series.
Oh, before we start: if you're new to our blog, you might want to read the earlier post about Planning first. You might also want to read the two intro posts: Should I Start A Reselling Business? Part 1 and Part 2.
I had a week off to think about this installation in our series, and I came to the conclusion that it would be rather irresponsible to present this section as "authoritative" in any way. Two reasons for this: I'm not a designer or branding expert, and there are just so many different ways to go about figuring out branding/identity.
So for today's post, I'm just going to throw out a few of my own opinions and ideas on the whole branding/identity (crisis) thing. Please - if you're a designer or have taken classes, etc, I KNOW you know more about this than I do. In fact, I'd love if you would leave a comment about what YOU feel are the important points for branding a Reselling business... but, uh, please be nice. =)
OK, first up is a simple question:
Is a business "name" really neccessary?
The answer to this, for our purposes, is NO. Remember, we aren't talking about a brick and mortar business here. You are most likely going to be selling things online, through a third party service such as Ebay or Etsy. Even if you're going the "antique booth" route, you don't necessarily need to have any name - you can let the merch speak for itself (and in fact, the last time I went to an antique mall, I counted only 5 booths out of 50 who had any sort of official "name" posted).
There are tons of folks reselling on Ebay who use nothing but their username as their identity - and they're doing fantastically well. (Well, some of them might have a "name" they've chosen, and might even use it on their Ebay store.) It may even help out to use "joeshmoe" as your ebay handle, because if you have a fancy, descriptive name it might pigeon-hole you into selling only a certain type of merch. We personally have this problem occasionally - a buyer who comes to our main store is often expecting to look at modern, midcentury items. Putting newer items or older antiques can compromise the overall look of our shop.
All of this said - I would always vote for having a name. There's just a lot more you can do with a reselling business as far as promotion, word-of-mouth, branding and social networking go if you have SOME sort of name. It doesn't even have to be legally set in stone (we'll get to those aspects in another post), but it can really help you focus your reselling activities.
Well, if you don't think you need to have a name for your business, then you can pretty much skip this entire post. But I would still think about at least focusing on the overall genre of what you're going to sell. And I guess that falls into "branding". So maybe stick around for just #1 and #2 of the following starting points to branding and identity for a reselling business:
1. Narrow your reselling focus.
2. Consider your potential buyers.
3. Research/pick some names based on #1, #2.
4. Buy a domain name, if desired.
5. Work on a logo.
You've probably already given some thought to the type of items you might resell. That'll be helpful when trying to find your shop's identity. Are you going to try to sell vintage clothes? Electronics from the 50s? Ceramics from Canada? Glass from Scandinavia? Newer housewares?
You'll also want to think about what kind of people you'd like to attract. Are they mostly 40-60 year old ladies who like milk glass? Is it guys who like antique toolshed whatchamacallits? How about higher end investors who're looking for bargains on midcentury artwork?
These first two points will help you create an identity for your shop, and will also guide your name picking (if you should choose to pick a name for your business). If you're going to pick a name, I really think it should be associated with what you're selling and the type of buyers you're looking to attract.
Well, it doesn't HAVE to be related. But it's a good place to start. Maybe you just want a weird, unique name for the biz. That's fine too, and might even be better. So, on the subject of name picking - that's something really personal (think about how hard it was to name your children, LOL). I'm not going to try and suggest anything.
However, I'll give a few naming guidelines in case you have no idea where to start:
• Simple is better.
• Shorter is better.
• Unique is better.
• Memorable is better.
• Easy to pronounce is better.
Again, you might just be the exception to the rule - however, my gut tells me that IN GENERAL these are some good guidelines. What I usually do is just sit down with paper and pen (in front of the TV, perhaps) and just write down as many different ideas and words you can think of that might be potential business names. Write down ALL of them - even how stupid, trite or lame they may sound. One dumb name might trigger a brainstorm that leads to a really amazing name. You may want to ask for name ideas from the significant other, the kids, the dogs... you get the idea. I would spend a few days doing this.
Once you've done that - I'd try and narrow down the choices. Go back through and cross out the obviously bad ones. Circle the ones with promise. Make a star next to your favorite circled ones, and rank them in order of preference.
Next - I would start to do some online research to see what names are already in use. What you do NOT want to do is type in "mynewvintagestorename.com" ANYWHERE.
Don't do that... here's why. You might not even be looking to get a domain, but it's worth it to know why this is important. Domain names are a big business. Back in the day when there weren't too many people who were registering domains, unsavory people looking to make a quick buck figured out they could just register bunches of common words as domains AND THEN HOLD THEM HOSTAGE. This is called Domain Squatting, and we feel it's an absolutely reprehensible practice - even though it's completely legal and tons of people do it today. OK, I'll get off the soap box now...
So, basically - you don't want any sort of record out there that you're interested in a name. When you look for "vintagestorename.com" in a search engine (or god forbid, at a domain name registrar), the record that you looked for it may stick around. Squatter folks or other registrars may get access to that record, run it through some algorithms to decide whether the name may be valuable, and BUY it right from under you. Trust me - this DOES happen.
If that happened, I guess it wouldn't be the end of the world. But what I would do instead is search for the actual name you're looking for in google or whatever search engine, just to see if there's a lot of similar businesses in that field. For instance - if you're considering "Sue's Vintage Tablecloths" then check out that term, and also check out "Vintage Tablecloths" and other related terms. Just don't type in "suesvintagetablecloths.com".
Are there a lot of similar names listed in the search results? You can probably pare the list down further if there are a lot of larger businesses that are already up and running with similar names.
I haven't actually talked about whether or not you NEED to get a domain name. I might save most of this for the "Tech" portion of this series, but in general here's my thought: if there's ANY possible chance that you might be running a blog, self-hosted online store, or other website component of your online business, then just buy the related domain name(s) anyhow. It's usually only about $10 for a year. If you don't end up using it, you're out ten bucks. I've done it where I've bought 3 or 4 just to make sure, and just used one in the end.
Buying a related domain does NOT (as far as I know) protect you if someone later claims a trademark on the name. But you're probably out of luck anyhow if that's the case.
Anyhow, what I usually do is narrow it down to a few possible names, and then just go try buy the domains starting with your favorite one. Remember: just because the one you pick is not available, it doesn't mean you can't add any number of different suffixes, prefixes or phrases to it in order to get the domain name you want. But I would still try and keep it short if you can.
So assuming you've gotten your name and domain, the next thing I would do is try and think about your logo. Again, there is that question of: Do I NEED a logo? And again, the answer is NO. But I would lean toward one anyhow.
The main reason is that it can really help with your branding. It helps get your name out there. It gives you something to put on business cards and other materials. It'll help with icons for social networking - yep, you don't have to be that "anonymous" shadow anymore, LOL.
Next, you're probably going to want to know how to design your logo. Sorry, I can't help there. Ideally, we could have 3 whole separate posts just on that - but this is not the place for it. I can only tell you that, you don't absolutely need one, but it's highly recommended for the points I mentioned. Well, here are a few general ideas for you to think about:
• Make sure it's readable.
• Make sure you also get the logo in Vector format.
• Use your logo everywhere you can.
These points are equally valid whether you end up designing it yourself, or if you pay someone to design it. You spent all this time coming up with your business's name - now make sure that name is readable in the logo. Sounds like a given - but, you know how it goes. =)
Somewhat less obvious is to make sure the final design is in vector format. What I mean is that the logo really should be in a format that is scalable and resizable. (Hint: a .bmp, .jpg, .gif, or .png file is NOT a vector file. In most cases, those are bitmap files that cannot be scaled up in size without degradation.) If you wanted to make a 5 foot by 5 foot sign with your logo on it to hang on the wall of your antique booth, and the logo you designed in photoshop is only 300 by 300 pixels at 72 dpi, that might not look very good.
Again... I'm not going to get too far into the technical aspect. Just know that if you're asking someone to design it for you, you want to have the original file in vector format that they're working from. They can export normal graphics from it for you as well, but always get the original vector file in case you need it later. If you decide that you absolutely have to make the logo yourself, and you're not using Illustrator - well then, my advice is to make the original file as BIG as possible and then scale it down for use on the web as needed.
Finally, once you get your logo it makes sense to use it everywhere you can. I mean, don't spam people with it. But you should put it on your website, use it in your ebay auctions and etsy profile, use it in social network icons, watermark your pictures with it, put it on business cards and your stationery.
Whew, sorry that was more long-winded than I intended. Again, please remember that this is just a jumping off point for thinking about branding a business. I've probably made every designer reading this out there cringe with inaccuracies, but I just know this method of thinking about branding and logos has worked for us. There's probably also other websites that'll cover it in better detail, but I hope this is a good starting point.
I hope to take a stab next Tuesday at the "Legal and Taxes" portion of How To Start A Reselling Business. I was sort of dreading trying to write that section, but I know that it's probably one of the areas that other Resellers are most interested in. It'll also be timely, as we're currently working on our taxes right now. OK, see you all next week!
Previous posts in our Tuesday Tips ReSeller Series:
[2/1/2011] How To Start A Reselling Business: Planning
[1/25/2011] Should I Start A Reselling Business? Part 2
[1/18/2011] Should I Start A Reselling Business? Part 1
Hi everyone. We've mentioned this before, but it's funny how often a "thrifting theme" comes about when looking for goodies. This post, "Fishy Finds", basically wrote itself this past week. We have a predilection for marine and fish items, and pick them up whenever possible.
This set of fish plates was actually thrifted from a long time ago, but we finally had a chance to take pictures of it this week. These are tuna plates commissioned by Chicken of the Sea from one of the California potteries in the 50s. Believe they were actually some sort of prize that you could send away for after collecting enough tuna labels. I've heard a couple of different stories about who made them - Bauer and Hollydale are often mentioned.
This little Italian glass fishy swam into our basket, even though he's a newer production. Made in Italy for a company called Exposures, he has a gold sticker on the bottom dating him to 1993. We're still learning the ropes for Italian items, but we'll thrift almost anything from Italy if it's reasonable.
We found this great little fishing plaque from Figgjo Flint at the thrift this week. Uh, please ignore all the Cathrineholm in the background, if you can. =) We've found it's an eye-grabber when taking product photos so we've been using it for set decoration...
This wonderful illustration depicts cod fisherman from Norway - it's marked on the back with "Torskefiske" and that seems to translate to "cod fishing". I know that Figgjo had quite a few designs on this shape of wall plaque, including a bunch by Turi Gramstad-Oliver. Ours says the design is by "Gerd", but I couldn't figure out who that artist referred to - if you know, please send me a mail about it!
Lastly, I found these very unusual, kitschy midcentury fish glassses. We've seen gold leaf fish designs like these, but the weird blue-ish "netting" that seems to have captured them was new to us. It's a raised matte sort of material - we were also surprised that it was almost all intact. This was ONE occasion where the thrift store backroom workers failed at their usual job of devaluing vintage items!
OK - hope to have the next TT post in our "How To Start A Reselling Business" series up on time this coming week. Happy thrifting!
Hi everyone. This is going to be a short rundown of our recent thrift scores. I also need to beg off one week for our Tuesday Tips reseller series. I've just gotten too far behind with the shop to get a long post up in a day.
We've had some pretty good luck with ceramics lately. We found this large set of Arabia of Finland dinnerware in the "Kosmos" line, which was designed by Ulla Procope and then decorated by Gunvor Olin-Grönquist. We've been looking for this pattern for awhile now.
We also came across this wonderful owl teapot. This was up in our Etsy shop for all of a few hours before it was snapped up. Yep, owls are usually a hot ticket item over there...
Cute little cat figurines like these are another standby that we look for at thrift stores and garage sales. In general, the older ones from Japan and the U.S. (California in particular) are more highly prized. But don't count out ones from Hong Kong or Taiwan, especially if they're cute and were made in the 70s-80s. People still really seem to like them.
I keep telling myself that we have enough Pottery Craft in the house. But it's so hard to pass them up for reasonable prices at the thrift, especially when they still have the sticker still on them!
Lastly, we grabbed this little Roselane pottery quail. We find a lot of California pottery in our thrift travels, but we've been passing on most of it unless it really fits the store, or we happen to collect it.
OK, that's it for this thrift roundup.