Monday January 25, 2016
OK - I have to admit, I'm a little surprised that we've been having some decent direct sales through our A La Modern main shop lately. I don't know whether the blog is actually helping out, or if it's just search engines chewing on our long tail search terms on the product pages, but it's encouraging either way.
I actually expected to get no sales at all for at least a half year, mainly because we just don't have the web traffic. And if I look at the stats, it's not like traffic has gone up that much recently. Funny, but a large portion of the inquiries on our items have come from afar - that is, from non-U.S. peeps. So I'm trying to figure out how everyone is finding us, but in the meantime - hello there!
I got a little excited when I stumbled across this interesting lucite cube paperweight at the thrift. I knew about the Vasa Mihich ones, and those are fairly valuable if you can find them. However, this one has some different characteristics - the lucite looks like it has flat planes of colored film(?) embedded in it instead of solid color sections. It also has a different signature that I couldn't make out - if you know who it is, let me know!
I spotted this Anri Form teak bowl at the flea market and knew what it was right away. The seller had a bunch of old dominoes in it, and when I decided to buy the bowl he said, "Well, where am I going to put the dominoes then?" I kind of started blankly at him and handed him the money. I have to admit I don't have the greatest people skills, which often results in sellers not giving me the "best" price at the flea market.
Interesting that this bowl only has one handle, I haven't figured out if it's more rare or not but it seems like it might be. Which means if I stick it on Ebay later on I better be sure to say RARE in the title...
Ok, ending with a bit of a detour - the well-regarded ceramics master Harrison McIntosh passed away last week. I'd originally found out about his work when we started to get into California Pottery in the mid 2000s.
We got to see quite a few of his pieces, including the 2009 exhibit called "A Timeless Legacy" at AMOCA in Pomona. These pictures were taken from that show.
We never got around to meeting him or owning one of his pieces, and I really wish we had. Actually, finding one of his pieces in the wild is definitely on my "thrift bucket list". I know it's not very likely, but you never know - weirdly enough, there was an estate this past week that had one of his pieces in it, but I decided not to go. I'm wondering who ended up getting it...
Well there's your abbreviated "thrift roundup" for this week. If you've found something interesting at the thrift this week, please leave a comment below. Or not. I'm guessing most visitors are lurkers, but that's OK with me since no one blogs any more, and the comments are third party and live offsite anyhow. Oh - so, speaking of how much I hate dealing with third party programs... our host has decided to drop the interface that was running all our contact forms. So, I've been writing my own code AGAIN. Therefore - the contact form(s) may be borked off and on, as I'm still figuring that part out.
Tuesday January 12, 2016
So, I'm still throwing around ideas for what the A La Modern blog should focus on. In the meantime, I decided to continue doing short "thrift roundups" every so often. While they do take time, I realized that in addition to possibly driving readership they have the side benefit of strengthening the internal structure of our website. Remember, this blog has been rebuilt from scratch so all the little helpful goodies like categories, tags, top posts, archives don't really exist. (You will laugh but I'm writing this in notepad, and later editing it online in vi!)
Anyhow, I'll be focusing the thrifting posts around items that we're featuring on the main site, as opposed to our Etsy and Ebay stores. We do want people to buy things on our other venues, but I'm hoping to use blog posts to set up interior site links which will help mitigate the lack of things like built-in "tag" pages.
I picked up this interesting Asaina Adamee stone bird carving at a thrift store last month. It was fully signed, but I haven't found much info about the creator - fairly certain it's a modern Inuit soapstone carving. Interesting, the last name "Adamee" shows up as "Adamie" on some sites - was wondering if that was a family name or something. I'm not too familiar with Native American art and crafts, so will have to keep researching.
It might seem like we've been finding a lot of Bitossi pieces lately, but to be honest it's more that we've gotten used to paying for them. Loved this Bitossi Seta compote so I just had to get it - unusual color scheme on it with gold and light blue. This one might become a keeper if no one takes it soon (hey, it's like $500 on "Dibs").
In addition to thrifts and antiques, we often attempt to pick items online - with VERY mixed results. I came across an auction while I was waiting in the dentist's office, and got all excited because I thought it might be David Cressey. It wasn't that cheap and I probably should've waited and researched at home. So, it turns out that it's probably a lamp in the style of David Cressey. Still a nice piece, and if you look around online you'll see some people have sold it as David Cressey. I personally don't think it is - the top portion is actually glazed and not bisque stoneware (the clay itself is actually white as well). But from the cord and top fixture it does appear vintage at least. Well - you win some...
Last up is this great looking Bitossi Horse with an unusual color combination and decor on side. You might remember we also found a Bitossi ball vase with the same colorway. I've still got several Bitossi items left in the queue to list up.
I think three years ago I would've passed on most of these Bitossi pieces either because I thought the price was too high to get for resale, or because I didn't even know what they were. I'm a slow learner, but it's been making a difference now that we're focusing on bringing home higher quality items while accepting the need to pay a little bit more for inventory.
All right, so there's the first round up for this year - if you've found something interesting, please leave a comment below. Yes, comments finally work! We also have an RSS feed (first few lines summary only right now) if you use a reader. I don't know how many other people still do thrift roundups, but I'm also interested in exchanging links with other thrifting and design blogs - that is, as long as you're still writing posts.
Monday December 14, 2015
Getting late in the year, so I figured it's time to do a "holiday" post. I still haven't figured out what the blog portion of our website is going to focus on. I had thought we would try to stay away from the weekly thrift roundups, but it's been difficult to get out of that mindset. After all, we curently still find most of our vintage at thrifts and flea markets. Also, writing the long "authority" type posts and articles just takes a lot of effort, plus we still haven't recovered any readership yet so I'm not sure if it's going to matter.
I dunno - do blogs for vintage sellers matter any more? Showing my age here. I never recovered from the old school way of trying to rank in search engines, but at the same time I'm wary (and weary) of blogrolls, promoting websites, and trying to get noticed through commenting on other blogs. Instagram and social media have made it so much easier to get a bunch of likes, comments and faves. Been attempting to go that route, but it is slow. I mentioned I'm old, right?
The vintage product part of our site has been going a little more smoothly - slowly filling out the store with both new and older items, and adding some of the sold ones to the archives. We aren't going to add all of the old posts and products, so you might get an error message if you've arrived from one of the search engines.
I have some other plans for another portion of the site, hopefully will get to that early next year.
Side note - picked up some nice yellow Bitossi horses, but only recently discovered that the leg was cracked and reglued on one. Boo, but we'll still make money on it. We've been picking up more Bitossi and other Italian ceramics lately, some even at auctions where you've gotta put your money where your mouth is. Some blue Bitossi pieces are below.
I'm fairly excited about the lion/dog thingy, have only seen that a few times online. Got that one at the flea market which was a shock.
This is probably WAY past the end for true blogging - I think other (smarter) people are still going to make it work with some sort of amalgamam of social network promotion plus blogging, but I don't know how much relevance actual blog posts are going to have any more. The truer story is that I just haven't been keeping up with what needs to be done. Plus, I'm lazy. I haven't figured out how all the pieces fit together, let alone what the pieces are.
Maybe we just post some pretty pictures every day, and try to engage influential tastemaker Millenials on instagram. Here's a kitty cat with a Xmas tree, excuse me I need to check how many likes I have on that.
On a somewhat brighter and less sarcastic note, I did figure out how to integrate 3rd party comments into the newer blog posts. We're using Disqus for now, and though it absolutely kills me to give the comment reins to a 3rd party system, it was very easy to integrate. And if Disqus f*'s us over by implementing unrecoverable tech upgrades in the future (hello there Wordpress), we'll only lose the comments,which don't even exist on our own site, so it doesn't even matter SEO-wise. Yes, yes justifying everything here. But please do leave a comment, if only as a test to see if this is working.
LOL. I spent this entire post monku-ing about blogging, when I really meant to talk about the state of vintage buying and selling today and what it means to do attempt to do this full time. I guess I'll save that for next year. I promise to be more constructive, fitter and happier. Happy holidays everyone!
Sunday November 22, 2015
For awhile now, we've been considering how to proceed with the A La Modern store and blog. You may have read in our last post (over a year ago!) that we were facing some technology deadlines as far as the site went that could very well break it. Well, those came and went - but this past summer they resurfaced, and I began looking into the possibility of porting everything over to our own non-Wordpress code.
The main question was that we weren't sure if it was worth it. This site does still get a decent amount of traffic, and we're still very proud of how we were able to set-up and code an ecommerce site on the back of Wordpress and the eShop plugin. So it'd be hard to just throw it away. However, we have definitely switched to selling a majority of our vintage goods through Etsy and Ebay. So I guess most people would have given it up, or just started a blog/store from scratch.
In the end, I ended up writing my own codebase/database in PHP with JSON, and manually copying over the more important blog posts and products to the new space. This took over six months and was extremely difficult (for me). F-ing madness. Yeah, there's no button that you can press to do that. I have a decent background in programming, but I've never been a whiz at it - always been more of a "hack something together to make it work for a demo" type of person. But needless to say, I'm extremely happy to be rid of Wordpress. No more annoying upgrades and having core plugins get outdated.
As the site stands right now - it's very bare bones. Certain parts may be very slow - I haven't implemented any caching so everything is being served hot and live as we go. I was able to save the majority of the blog posts. The content and images are there, but I could only save comments as flat files. In addition, you can't currently make any new comments on any posts (what good is a blog without comments). I'm going to have to look into finding a 3rd party comment system to integrate that in the future - much as I don't want to get back into 3rd party stuff, I just don't have the chops to write my own comment system. The RSS feed should work - I had to figure out how to code that manually, so I guess we'll see.
I only took about half of our current and sold products over to the new site - there were just too many to manually copy by hand. I did figure out a way to have archived products, which should nicely clean up the current products quite a bit. For awhile there, we had maybe 75% sold products in our main shop! We also have a ton of old products that weren't sold through the main site - I may start entering those slowly for fun over the next year.
As far as overall vision for this site: We are mostly going to be populating the main site inventory with "higher end" items. This is something we have already been doing in our Etsy shop - Sorry, no more bargain basement items - just not worth the time. For the blog, we will likely NOT be doing weekly itemized "thrift roundups" unless it's a group photo type of thing. Those likewise just cost too much time. We might focus more on articles like our Reseller Post series, and maybe posts focusing on specific companies and designers. In general, we'll be writing that for ourselves and our friends mostly, not for the sake of a blog or who reads it.
I'm not sure if relaunching the site is even worth it. In the end, the main reason I did it was to free ourselves from the shackles of 3rd party systems, and to teach myself more php, html, css, json, etc.. Building sites is what I did for a living many years ago, but I hadn't kept up with the last 7-8 years(!) of it. Oh, you may notice that the site does not completely break on mobile phones now :) That was another technology thing that I wanted to investigate.
So, hopefully the site is more or less functional now. Certain things may be broken, just ignore for the time being. Since there's no comments right now, if you want to say something funny or interesting: use the contact form.
EDIT: I'm in the process of testing out a 3rd party system for comments, so please do leave a comment if you have a moment.
And happy thrifting!