Tuesday March 29, 2011
Anyhow, the thrifting tip for this week is Research and Development. Yes, I know it sounds boring (unless, you're a techie like me), but I feel it's one of the most important aspects of thrifting. And actually, I'm embarrassed to admit that it's kind of fun - almost part of "relaxation" time for me.
Sure, you can skip the whole "knowledge" part of thrifting. I know a lot of folks who rely instead on getting to the thrift store as early as possible, or even STAYING at the thrift store all day (I kid you not on that one). Or, a lot of people just buy what they like and what looks good to them. If you're a reseller, you can also just buy EVERYTHING and then rely on Ebay to find the correct market price for your items.
However, even if that's your game, it can help your thrifting tremendously if you attempt to acquire a little more knowledge about the items you'd like to thrift. Knowledge in the thrifting game definitely IS power.
What is Thrifting R&D? It's:
Researching different aspects (designers, manufacturers, lines, shapes, genres, histories) related to the items you're interested in.
Developing the skillset to identify these items at thrifts, estate sales, etc.
Research can come in many forms and from many different sources. But many people nowadays solely use Ebay or collector fansites - and I have to admit that the iPhone has helped quite a bit while thrifting. However, don't count out books, blogs, collector groups and knowledge gained from talking to other collectors or sellers.
I'd picked up this beverage server set several months back, just because it looked interesting. It looked familiar but didn't have any markings. We recently picked up the collector book Tableware Designs of Ben Seibel: 1940s-1980s, and as I was flipping through it last night I came across this exact set!
Apparently, the line is called Tempron Taste Tempters and it was manufactured by Gilley and designed at least in part by Ben Seibel. Granted, I didn't recognize this item because of any existing knowledge, but rather on accident by looking through a book we had. But, now this little bit of information is part of my general thrifting knowledge, to be used when and if the time comes. And it just goes to show that not everything can be identified online - I wouldn't have even known where to start with the server set.
As a side note: it's quite surprising how often you'll find something at a thrift store and then later find it "accidentally" while flipping through a seemingly unrelated collector book. This happens to me so frequently that it's almost uncanny. Or, sometimes random things that we've read in collector books or heard from other people will trigger an identification much, much later down the line. Weird!
Developing a general base of knowledge can help tremendously. I would pick a few specific areas to learn about first, because it can get overwhelming. It can also be good to let your own tastes guide your acquisition of knowledge. Let's say you pick up some glassware at the thrift - is it Pyrex, Fire King, Glasbake? Try and find out more about the company online, including the different lines, patterns and which ones are more rare than others. Maybe pick up a collector book on glassware. Study past auctions and get a feel for how much things sell for.
Then, let natural extensions occur - since you're interested in glassware and looking for it at the thrift, chances are you'll encounter other interesting housewares. How about enameled items? Cathrineholm, Finel, Emalox, Copco, Descoware - now you've got a new area to research. Branch off your thrifting knowledge gradually and naturally.
I originally had a bit of California pottery background, and that led to things like enamels and midcentury modern items. Because I'd developed an interest and some minor knowledge in other areas, I was soon able to pick things up like the unusual C. Jere lighter shown above.
The lady who sold it to me at the flea market didn't know anything about Curtis Jere. Actually, it's more the case that she just didn't have time to look it up - she even told me that the signature might be "someone", but she was in a rush.
This is one of the keys with the Development of thrifting knowledge - you may not use the information immediately, but you never know when it'll come in handy. I actually didn't know much about C Jere myself (and still don't), but I knew the name and how things were signed. That extra bit of information, that I'd found about perhaps a few weeks before, was instrumental in allowing me to pick it up at a lower price.
Hopefully, this post will inspire you to go out and gain more thrifting knowledge. The great thing, or bad thing depending on how you view a half-full glass, is that Thrifting Research and Development is a NEVERENDING process. There's always something new to learn about. I almost have to be careful because my brain "gets full" - I become interested in too many different fields easily (I found ATG's post on "Scanner personalities" the other day quite interesting - I actually think it can be helpful for thrifting!)
OK, hope you enjoyed this Tuesday Tips post. I might have another non-Reseller series Tuesday Tips post before we tackle Taxes. The next one might be on more "Identification" tips since those are always popular.
Sunday March 27, 2011
Hi everyone. For this post around we have a smaller roundup of thrift finds. In this business of thrifting (or just plain thrifting, if you're doing it for fun), it just comes with the territory. Some days it seems like every single thrift store you visit has multiple items you're interested in. Other days, we come home without a single thing.
I think when you're first starting out thrifting, a lot of people are looking for a particular item or type of items. And if you don't find it in that first couple of times at the thrift, it's really easy to get discouraged. The trick is you have to go very frequently. It doesn't matter so much what time of the day or week, but the frequency. It also greatly helps to expand the range of items that you look for.
I still get discouraged after getting skunked, but have learned to try and focus on times when you DO find things - even if it's only a small haul of goodies.
We found another De Simone vase at the thrift - this one is a lot more colorful and detailed than the floral vase we have up in the shop. This one also exhibits more of the characteristic "Picasso"-ey look than the other one we found (Giovanni De Simone studied under Picasso for a bit).
To the right of the vase is a wonderful Arabia of Finland tureen that's unfortunately missing its cover. This is the popular Anemone design that was designed by Ulla Procope. Keep in mind that you might be able to score these sometimes at the thrift from under the noses of the usual pickers - the marking on the older Anemone pieces is handwritten and it's sometimes difficult to make out the word "Arabia" or "Finland".
The funny Swedish wooden figurines in the front were made by a company called Butticki. I have to admit that name sounded kind of humorous and was the main reason I picked it up at the thrift...
The glass decanter or flask in the back is something I'm very curious about. It has a sticker which identifies it as Dansk Designs made in Sweden along with the "GC" mark. GC is of course Gunnar Cyren. However, I haven't been able to find this exact shape anywhere online. I've found a Dansk GC glass wine carafe that seems to have made up until recently (it has a Malaysia marked teak stopper). However, that shape is very different than this one. I'm also not sure if this originally had some sort of stopper. Anyone know more about this piece?
OK, I almost forgot - speaking of small hauls, I picked up this little white pottery tumbler the other day without knowing who made it. It had a really nice satin matte glaze, three stilt marks on bottom and just looked to be of high quality. I've been wrong many times about these items, but it just goes to show that it's worth picking up things if you're cheap enough. I also ended up having to wait in line about 15 minutes just to pay the 99 cents - it was the only thing I bought at the store.
When I got home and looked at the base under better light, I saw it just had the word "Catalina" on it. That was pretty exciting, since it's only the 2nd time we've found any Catalina Pottery in the thrift. And this is true Catalina - not the Gladding McBean remakes (confusingly, those are often labeled "Catalina Pottery" but were made by Gladding).
It's not worth a ton. But it really made the thrift run, which had been somewhat unproductive up until that point, seem much more fruitful.
Sunday March 20, 2011
Hi everyone. No theme for this week's thrift round up - we actually have a large variety of thrifting photos that we're only getting around to now. Most of these items are already up in the shop or in our Etsy outlet. OK, getting right to the goodies...
We've been trying to expand our knowledge to include ceramics from Mexico - it's a little difficult because there isn't as much information or demand in this area usually. However, being in Southern California means we see a lot of it. We went to a recent estate sale that advertised tons of Mexican ceramics, and it didn't disappoint.
We ended up picking up mostly Ken Edwards pieces, seen on the right side of the photo, and the weird, alien looking flattened ceramics on the left. Those actually aren't from Mexico, but are religious ceramics from St. Andrews Abbey in Valyermo. We usually don't buy religious items like these, but they have a sort of modern look to them. And while they still make these (and some of the ones shown are new), the older ones like the big plaque in the back date back to the 1960s and are fairly collectible.
We've slowed down on picking up Pyrex, but still find some nice pieces every so often. Nice larger set of Autumn Bands Tableware in Revel Red complements a blue Embroidery cinderella bowl and a turquoise pie plate.
We've come across quite a few Vera Neumann scarves lately - interesting because we never had much luck with them. We usually wait until we have a bunch and then put them up in our fabric section on Etsy all at once.
We'll always pick up any Scandinavian or Dutch looking tablecloths or placemats whenever we can. The placemats above are interesting because they match a blue tablecloth we found earlier - and they have original tags! A company called "Elling Design". We still aren't certain if that company is still around or not, but it's definitely a Danish company.
The cool jester graphics on the key ring holder board reminds me of some of the graphics from when I was a kid in the 70s, though this one could be older since the copyright is 1964. It's made by Berggren Trayner.
I've only recently become aware of all the Kensington aluminum art deco pieces we've been passing up. The ones designed by Lurelle Guild are especially interesting - though it's been a little difficult to get definitive IDs at times. Hmm.. anyone know if there a listing of all the Guild Kensington out there?
The teapot is by Noritake, in the Reina line - not terribly valuable but I just really liked the wrapped handle. The smiley-face planter king - I've sold this one several times in the past, and the best part is that it usually isn't marked except for a paper label which is often missing. So it's easier to thrift than some other pieces. I know the company who made this... do you? =)
Lastly, we have two larger ceramic pieces. The first is a Metlox coffee carafe in the "decorated" version of the Red Rooster pattern. I was surprised to find this intact (except for the wire heater cradle, which was actually optional), as usually there is damage, or the parts are missing. Often harder to find buyers for the 40s and before California pottery though.
The second piece is a really cool white ceramic giraffe. I've been looking for the Lisa Larson giraffe, and while this one doesn't really come close in style and design, it's still pretty cool. One thing - this is NOT the Jonathan Adler modern design. In fact, I almost suspect that Adler's may have been inspired by this one. Nothing against Adler, and his "inspired" pieces are really, really nice. It just seems like a lot of people don't realize that his forms are often inspired directly from vintage pieces.
In this case... I'm not gonna say who designed our giraffe, because I'm not 100% sure yet. I'm about 90% sure, but still need to do some more research.
OK, that's it for this week's roundup - happy thrifting, everyone!
Tuesday March 15, 2011
Hi everyone. Sorry, we haven't been posting lately - just haven't felt like it was appropriate considering the circumstances overseas. It's hit close to home for us, but luckily it appears our relatives and friends are OK for the moment. But our hearts go out to everyone else over there who's been affected.
Anyhow, I thought I'd take things in a new direction this week rather than our usual thrifting post.
We have a habit of picking up inexpensive books and other items at thrifts and estate sales for "research purposes". That is, we don't really intend to sell them, but plan to use the information to gain more knowledge about a particular area. While there's a lot of information online on collectibles, designers and companies, some of it is incorrect (though it's important to remember that information in books can be wrong too!) or diluted to the point where it's not useful.
So we'd picked up this book called "New Glass: A Worldwide Study" which was produced about an exhibition organized by The Corning Museum of Glass and held at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 1979. This was actually a second production commemorating the 20th anniversary of Corning's "Contemporary Glass Exhibition" of 1959. I've been trying to slowly get acquainted with some of the other glass companies around the world, and thought this book might be helpful.
However, we were pleasantly surprised to see that one of the entries picked was the modern glass bakeware designed by Vignelli Associates (Massimo and Lella Vignelli). You may have seen this glassware around - it has distinctive ridge-lines running around the perimeter of the glass items. It flies under the radar a bit - most people think it's some sort of Corning/Pyrex production (we certainly thought so at first).
We've come across a few of these Heller glass bakeware items ourselves, but have always wondered about the different sizes and items that were produced. It was a little confusing as well, since we didn't know whether items were covered, or in some cases WERE covers. The round casseroles are meant to have more than one use - as a covered casserole, an open baker, or the lid as an au gratin.
We had seen some information on Design Addict, but they didn't show all the different pieces there. So it was nice to find a page that had all of the sizes and shapes. I'm still not sure if these five items were the ONLY ones produced, but most of the pieces we've seen elsewhere appear to be listed. One exception is a smaller bakeware bowl or individual ramekin that measures about 4 inches across. (Please let us know if you have one that isn't listed, and we'll include that info here.)
What's still unclear to us is if/when this design line was actually reproduced later by Glasbake (Jeanette). We've seen them marked under the name "Chef's Choice". It's certain that they were later reproduced for Jeanette, but we aren't certain to what extent and whether or not there are differences in the glass. Those later pieces are definitely marked as such, however.
In case you're having trouble reading the text, I'm going to write out all the information on the 5 pieces of Vignelli bakeware shown. NOTE: I've also added "other" pieces not listed in the book that we or others have come across. These are denoted with an asterisk, and I've given whatever information I can on it. The diameters and widths given include the "flat rim" of the pieces.
Three Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Height: 14.2 cm
Diameter: 29.1 cm (11.5")
Signature: Heller Oven/Microwave Bakeware Design by L&M Vignelli Made in USA 20
Designers: Lella and Massimo Vignelli
Colorless glass, pressed.
Two Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Diameter: 24.8 cm (9.75")
* One Quart Casserole with Au Gratin Cover
Height: (Including cover) 12.7cm (5")
Diameter: 21.1 cm (8.25")
Notes: Not sure if this was also sold without a lid.
* Individual Casserole or Ramekin
Height: 5.1 cm (2")
Diameter: 16.2 cm (6 3/8")
Notes: We don't believe these were sold with lids, but haven't been able to confirm it.
Deep Loaf/Pate Pan
Width: 17 cm
Depth: 24.5 cm
2 1/2 Quart Lasagna Dish
Height: 5.7 cm
Width: 28.2 cm
Depth: 38.2 cm
8" Square Cake / Bake Dish
Height: 5.4 cm
Width: 26.5 cm
Depth: 26.4 cm
* 9" Pie Plate
Notes: We have had this boxed, with an item #509.
Note that the heights for the covered casseroles do not appear to include the au gratin cover. It's also interesting that those covered casseroles were designed later (1977) compared to the other items.
OK, hope you enjoyed this writeup. Happy thrifting!
Edit: 9/12/11 - We just found 3 of the smaller individual ramekins or casseroles with the same L&M Vignelli markings on bottom. They measure 6 3/8" wide and 2" tall. I believe the earlier 4" number given for the width may have been the measurement for the bottom of the ramekin. The 6 3/8" is including the rim. Unsure if these had lids or not, the ones we found are lidless.
Edit: 11/11/11 - I just found an "inbetween" size casserole with L&M Vignelli marking on bottom. It measures about 8 1/4" wide and 3" tall. I believe that this one usually had a lid cover, but ours did not come with one. Unsure if they were sold both ways.
Edit: 11/14/11 - I've decided to start keeping track of any different Heller Vignelli glass pieces we come across online, and not just the ones we find. Eventually, will probably re-do the above listings to include all pieces - especially since it appears there are a lot of different ones not included in the New Glass book. I saw a Heller Vignelli pie plate listed online. It was a nine inch pie plate and actually came with the original box... item number on it was #509. I haven't seen box numbers before, so that's interesting.
Edit: 3/7/12 - Picked up the large 3 quart casserole with au gratin cover along with the medium size 8/ 1/4" casserole mentioned previously. This time, the 8 1/4" one had a lid to it as well. I've added this one to the overall listings above.
Monday March 7, 2011
Hi everyone - welcome to Tuesday Tips. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about Legal aspects for our "How To Start A Reselling Business" series.
Before we start: if you're new to our blog series, you might want to read the earlier posts on Branding and Planning first. You might also want to read the two intro posts: Should I Start A Reselling Business? Part 1 and Part 2.
OK, so I'd like to remind everyone again that I'm not a lawyer / accountant, I didn't take any business or econ classes and nothing we write here should be construed as "professional advice". In other words, we DISCLAIM everything. =)
Now. This section is one that I've been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to. I think a lot of folks who are looking to resell might be interested in this information, yet it's sort of tough to present it in a way that's useful to everyone. Warning: What follows is going to be rather long-winded...
When we first started looking into starting our own online business - this was pre-Etsy, long before it was common to do start one (circa 2001) - we found that there weren't too many concrete facts to be found that applied to the legal aspects of an ONLINE business. Tons of websites, e-books and "self help" guides for starting TRADITIONAL businesses, but not as much for online businesses. As such, we sort of muddled along using "advice" from forums and from our tax accountant(s). We learned quite a bit, but still have a lot to learn about it.
Here's one problem: The legal aspects of starting a business exist on AT LEAST three different levels: Federal, State and County/City. Those different levels do NOT really talk to each other - there's no real communication between the groups about businesses. In addition, within the State or City level different regulations, taxes, and laws apply to different states and cities. It's AGGRAVATING, but that's how it is. All it really comes down to is that all three of these levels want a piece of your business. They want a piece of the pie for doing essentially nothing. That's all it comes down to in the end - Need and Greed. Apologies if this sounds rough or cynical, but this is simply the truth.
I don't want to drag down this post by talking about how all three of these different levels have COMPLETELY dropped the ball as far as ensuring that online businesses have concrete, hard facts available to them. They've handled it TERRIBLY up to this point - that's all I have to say.
It's also interesting that whenever I've sort of thrown out a question to online friends (on twitter or whatever) about the tax and legal implications of ReSelling, I've often been met with stony silence or indifference. Strange. The only conclusion I could draw from this is that either people don't like to talk about the legal/tax parts of their businesses, or they are running an illegal ReSelling business, i.e. they aren't paying any taxes.
Whoops - again, my goal here isn't to point fingers. I'm not going to get into morals or whatever here. You can do what you want to, whenever you want to...
But before I can give out any concrete info, we need to start off with our assumptions. We'll assume:
1. You want to legally start an online business, and to the best of your ability you want to set up the necessary legal parts and pay whatever fees or taxes are due.
2. You are starting a sole proprietorship - that is, there is no legal distinction between yourself and your business.
I'm going to assume you're starting up a simple sole proprietorship. I think most folks looking to resell would be considering this business option first because it's the easiest. Remember - you can always change to a partnership, LLC, or Corporation later on.
So, here are some of the legal and business entities that you are going to want to consider setting up, in the APPROXIMATE order that I'd consider setting them up. I'm going to go through all of these in detail. Again, the problem is the disparity in laws between different states, counties and cities:
0. EIN (Employer Identification Number)
1. Paypal Account
2. DBA / Fictitious Business Name
3. State Resale Permit
4. Bank Account
5. Business Credit Card
6. Home/Business Occupancy Permit
7. City Business License
I know it seems like a huge pain when you're first starting out. You're going to be thinking - but what about this guy/gal I know online who just sells stuff using a personal Ebay account and doesn't have to go through all this trouble? That's fine, more power to 'em. But the more successful you are at reselling and the higher amount of income you take in, the more chance there is that the IRS and other entities are going to take notice. And you DO want to be successful - right?
OK - I'll just go through the items one by one...
0. Employer Identification Number
The nice thing about a sole proprietorship is that for the most part, you as an individual are legally considered the same as your business. As such, as far as the Federal legal aspect of your business, you pretty much DON'T need to apply for an EIN. When asked for this information, you just use your Social Security Number. Now, I know there are exceptions - and in cases where you don't WANT to use your SSN, you'll need to get an EIN. We've done this previously, and it's not a big deal usually. I put this as Number 0, because I don't think you'll need to get one in general.
1. Paypal Account
It's pretty safe to say that if you're accepting payments online as a reseller, sooner or later you're going to have to get a PayPal account. I'm going to refrain (greatly refrain!) from commenting on whether or not Paypal is a good thing or not. If you sell on Ebay, it's pretty much required. If you sell on Etsy, I would say that 9 out of 10 purchases would be through Paypal. Your own site? You can do whatever you want to, but we also have 95% of purchases on our own site through Paypal.
So Paypal it is - it's very easy to set up a separate business account. I would avoid using your personal Paypal account as much as possible. You'll probably also want to link it eventually to your business bank account, but the good thing is that you don't have to do that right away. One thing I do recommend is keeping the overall Paypal balance as low as possible AND keeping the overall balance in the bank account connected to your Paypal account as low as possible at all times. We've all heard the stories - it's just better to be safe when possible.
I would setup your Paypal account as early as possible, just because it doesn't require much in the way of legal business stuff.
2. DBA / Fictitious Business Name
This one is usually either on the "County" or "City" level. A DBA is a "Doing Business As" designation, and you'll need this in order to sell your products under a different name than your own. If you are reselling things under your own name, I guess it wouldn't be necessary. If you are reselling things under a name, like we do under "A La Modern", it's required that you register that name at the county or city level. It's probably also required in order to get a business bank account so that you can accept checks, money orders, etc. under your fictitious name.
Again, there are different regulations for a DBA depending on the county, city and sometimes state. Some may not require one - you should check with your particular area if it's required. However, in MOST cases - part of the requirement for getting a DBA is Proof Of Publication in a local newspaper for 4-5 weeks.
This also costs money - what the paper basically does is take out a local advertisement in a section specifically reserved for DBAs for several weeks. If you have a local paper handy, flip to the back and you'll probably see a section of businesses that are putting their DBA advertisement out there. At the completion of your advertisement running for the required time, you'll receive a piece of paper that documents it for your records.
There are companies that exist that do nothing but set up DBAs. They'll actually submit the paperwork to the required county/city and then go and submit it to your local paper as well. You can search or ask around to find out which ones will do it.
Because it requires some time for the ads to run, I would try and apply for your DBA very early on. I would budget 5-8 weeks total time from start to finish.
3. State Resale Permit
Live in Oregon? Congratulations, you can skip this section. (Actually, I don't know how that works - do you still need some sort of permit to sell?). Several other states also don't have sales tax. For California, and the majority of other states, you are going to have to keep track of and remit sales taxes on your sales to customers in your particular state. Once again, different freakin' regulations apply for different states. This is annoying, because I can't tell you exactly what to do - but if your state has sales tax, chances are you're going to have to apply for a Resale Permit.
In California, this is handled by the Board of Equalization. It's a fairly simple process to fill out the form, and then submit it. You'll get back a piece of paper like the one shown above, and you're all set to start collecting sales tax. I would also try and apply for the Seller's Permit as early as possible, because it can take a little while to get processed and for you to receive the form back. Some states are also migrating most of this process online - check with your particular state.
The Sales Tax Seller's Permit may be necessary in order to sell at an antique mall, at a craft faire or at a swap meet. For internet sales, you're going to want to collect sales tax on sales made to customers within your own state. For out of state sales, the customer is usually responsible for remitting the sales tax (yeah, right). I'll probably go into this in more depth in a later post. In general, you'll remit all the sales tax collected at the end of the year back to the state, using the specified tax form. Beware - in many cases states will NOT remind you to remit the sales tax even though you're required to do so! Again, this is just another example of government dropping the ball - why wouldn't you remind someone to pay you?
One of the benefits of having a Sales Permit is that when you buy inventory or supplies relating to your business (such as packing supplies), you can usually provide your resale permit number so that you don't get charged state sales tax! You should doublecheck with your particular state for rules regarding this, but it's often a valid use of the permit. If you ask businesses about their policy regarding sales permits, they'll usually know what you're talking about.
4. Bank Account
This isn't necessary, but it may be a good idea to set up a business checking account for your reselling business. It lets you accept checks, money orders and other forms of payment under your "doing business as" name. It can serve as the connecting bank account for your Paypal, Ebay, Etsy and other accounts.
If you're doing business under your own name as a sole proprietor, a separate bank account may not be required. However, we were advised by our tax accountant to try and keep personal and business matters separate AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. It sort of makes sense too - it will allow you to track your expenses and income more accurately if you have everything running through a business account.
In order to set up a business bank account, you'll probably need some form of paperwork - such as DBA paperwork or a business license. In our case, we were able to set up our business bank acount by providing only our completed DBA information. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't believe that simply providing a business card to a bank is sufficient to set up a bank account. I also don't know how this works with online-only banks, since mine is a brick and mortar. Again, check with your particular bank for details.
5. Business Credit Card
Many banks will offer a "package" where you'll get a small business checking account and a credit card. For your purposes as a sole proprietor reseller, this might be a good thing to have around. For one, it allows you again to separate your business purchases from your personal ones. Unless you happen to be able to pay for everything in cash, you'll be using credit once in awhile. Having a separate credit card can be handy. Just keep a close eye on how much you spend using it!
6. Home Occupancy Permit
I'm actually a little bit unsure if this is required for businesses in all cities. For many of the cities here in southern California, some sort of Occupancy Permit IS required in order to get a business license. What is it? Why, it's just another way for your city to get their grubby hands on your money, of course!
Truthfully, you're going to have to check with your particular city to see what's required. Sometimes, they'll require a fire marshall to inspect your house - you'll even have to buy and put an approved fire extinguisher on the wall. I kid you not - this is the requirement in the city where my parents live. For me, it was just a simple form I had to fill out and submit. In general, unless it's disallowed in your city (sometimes there's weird zoning laws), it should be fairly easy to get the required permit - as long as you pay the piper.
7. Business License
A Business License is required in order to do business within your city limits. Does it matter that you're reselling your items online? Nope, you still have to get one. Usually, whatever city you reside in is the city you'll need to get your license in. Remember that you'll also need to get the pre-requisite home or business occupancy permits as well FIRST. I'd apply for those as soon as possible, so that you'll have them when it comes time to get the business license.
When we started our first online business (selling jewelry), we actually didn't bother to get a business license - because we didn't realize it was necessary! We simply didn't know we had to - again, because the idiotic city, state and federal levels didn't make this information readily available for online businesses. Nothing actually happened - until we decided to do a local craft show. We DID have a sales permit, and when it was recorded and submitted by the venue in charge of the show, we got a letter from our city telling us we needed to have a Business License.
So, the different levels ARE aware of each other - albeit in a limited, roundabout sense. In any case, I would just plan to get a business license if you decide to resell. There are some situations where you might need to provide one (i.e. getting a bank account, loan, acceptance into shows). And hey, you can hang it on your wall...
OK, I want to sum up this entire post with three statements:
• The Federal, State and City levels all want a cut of your biz.
• They want to do as little work as possible to get it.
• It's difficult to get specific info that applies to YOUR business.
I decided to go the route in being as legal as possible with the business. You may decide it's not necessary. Just know that if you decide to go legal, you will often need to bug your city, state, tax accountant and business friends in order to get the correct information that applies to your reselling situation. I could tell you exactly what we did in order to set our business up, but it likely wouldn't be what you need to know. When in doubt, I would seriously think about consulting an accountant who specializes in small businesses or who has experience dealing with online businesses.
OK, I hope this post has been helpful to those starting up their ReSelling business. I was looking at what we had planned earlier, and it sort of makes sense that the next section would be "Recordkeeping/Taxes". This is slightly different than what we'd planned earlier. In any case, I hope to get that post up before the month is out.
If you found this information helpful I would really appreciate it if you could leave a small comment. It helps me decide how much effort to direct toward this series - when there's no response or comments, then I tend to re-direct my efforts toward listing more items as opposed to blogging...
Thanks for reading!
Previous posts in our Tuesday Tips ReSeller Series:
[2/14/2011] How To Start A Reselling Business: Branding
[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
Saturday March 5, 2011
Hi everyone. Today's thrift topic is about "stepping outside your comfort zone". If you do a lot of thrifting, you've probably gotten to the point where you already know the types of things you're looking for. Your thrifting comfort zone - whether it's clothes, ceramics or electronics - is a good thing to have. It allows you to focus on picking out the goodies you recognize and prioritize your thrifting hours, so that you can hit more stores in less time.
But it's a good idea (especially if you're a Thrift ReSeller) to continually seek out new areas that you can learn about. I'll probably write more about this later, but successful thrifting is all about Knowledge. The more fields of expertise you can handle, the better you'll do. Unlike with straight-on collecting, when I'm at the thrifts I feel like a little knowledge in a large amount of areas is better than a large amount of knowledge in one area. Just my opinion, though.
So, my personal thrifting comfort zone is probably ceramics, enamel and glass - with an emphasis on midcentury ceramics, Pyrex and Fire King, and dinnerware produced in California and Scandinavia. I've made it a point to try and get more acquainted with ceramics from other countries, like the Denby Arabesque pattern shown in the photo above (left,front) and Italian goodies like the wonderful covered jar (left, back). Can you identify the other items in the photo? Two of the three remaining items I recognized just from looking at from across the room.
But just sticking with ceramics isn't enough. We've made it a point to learn as much as we can about collectible plastics, like these yellow and red Heller mugs by Massimo Vignelli. Sorry - going back to ceramics for a bit, the polka dot blue and orange casserole is actually a Bunzlau (Boleslaweic) piece. Until last week, I had no idea about Polish pottery - it just goes to show that within your own specialty, there's always room for improvement! I still sometimes get things without knowing what they are, like the great Norwegian souvenir tea towels shown in the photo. These are probably newer (the one on the right is definitely older though since it's made by Kay-Dee), but they were in such great condition with original tags from the Steen & Strom store in Norway, that I just picked them up without knowing anything about them.
This modern, cut and welded gazelle candle-holder thingy was definitely out of my comfort zone. I had seen a few similar animals before online, but hadn't really thought too much about it. But I knew that it would probably fit all right in our store(s), so I ended up getting it at the thrift. It may be new, old, by someone famous, someone's art project - sometimes you just have to try and get educated after the fact. I still have no ideas on it actually - anyone know?
One area we've been trying to learn more about is children's books. Yes, I know this is a tremendously crowded field already, but because we do a lot of thrifting and estate sales, we do see a ton of children's books. We're banking on the fact that ALL the book experts can't be at the thrifts ALL the time. So eventually we might pick up some interesting things. These books (plus the Vera Neumann scarf in the corner) came out of a dingy, scary estate basement. I don't know a thing about them, and didn't have time to try and type the names into the iPhone while there - but they were all from the 60s or before, so I took a chance. I think "The Little Boy From Shickshinny" might be a decent find.
OK, hope you enjoyed this thrifting roundup. We may skip next week's in order to try and get to another Tuesday Tips ReSeller post.