In Which Things May Change

I laundered. I steamed. I took photos. I ran out of oomph.

Last week, I said I’d be posting some charming vintage aprons in the shop.

I didn’t forget. I gave up. By the time I’d steam-burned my hand for what seemed like the 427th time (and I’m pretty good with a garment steamer, seeing as I’ve been using them for something like 6 or 8 years now), I hit the proverbial wall. I’ll sell these aprons for $8-$12 a piece, and for what?

I’m tired. I’m tired of driving the miles to wait in line to push through crowds to paw through filthy, wrinkled piles to dig out the gems.

Tired of inspecting every seam every button every snap, of hauling loads to the dry cleaner, of hand-laundering what I can or have to, of re-sewing hems and re-attaching buttons, of steaming steaming steaming to get every single piece photo-ready.

Tired of fighting with cameras and lighting stands and buying photo bulbs that are NEVER bright enough, of losing half of my basement (and thank goodness I have a basement) permanently to photo studio/inventory/shipping supply storage.

Tired of color-balancing photos, of taking measurements, of researching labels*, of researching price comps, of writing descriptions.

Tired of answering umpteen questions** from potential customers, and so rarely getting a “thanks” in return.

Tired of paying for every listing, paying for every sale, paying for every credit card transaction, paying for advertising space that doesn’t return the investment.

 Tired of trying to figure out the perfect storm of tags that will actually get my listings to show up in searches in the bizarre and ever-changing world of Etsy “relevance.”

Tired of re- (and sometimes re-re-re-) listing items that don’t sell the first time around, even when they’re in perfect condition, a wearable size, and better priced than my competitors.

Tired of packing boxes and writing out Customs forms and making trips to the post office.

Tired of what a mad nest of paperwork my income taxes have become.

Tired of feeling oppressed by the sheer volume of inventory that isn’t yet photographed/listed.

All of this excess is…excessive. I am very seriously considering consigning my entire inventory at one of the local brick-and-mortar shops. Tiddleywink Vintage‘s stock (and back-stock) would easily quadruple what Jolly Goods currently has to offer in the clothing area. Or maybe Night & Day Vintage would have room. I could sell off my backdrops, my mannequins, my studio lighting. I’d get my basement back, and some free time. But…

I’d miss it. Yes, everything I’ve griped about above is true. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve never done this for fame and glory and easy money. (Ha!) I do it because I see beautiful vintage clothing that is potentially destined to become next year’s shredded Halloween costume if I don’t get it in front of the eyes of people who also appreciate its worth.

As other enthusiasts have noted, vintage clothing is getting harder to find. These items are 50-60-70 years old (or more), and they’re aging out. We can take all of the care we can muster, but we wear this clothing. Over time, fabrics deteriorate. Threads break. Buttons fall off. Zippers jam. Drinks get spilled. And yes, some items become next year’s Zombie Crawl*** costume. As time goes on, more pieces get lost to the rag bin. Can I, in good conscience, let it all go?

Time will tell. But time, and my patience, is running short.

*This part is actually right up my alley, but it’s frustrating that I spend hours researching items so that I’m confident they’re properly attributed, and then I see other sellers who so blatantly don’t bother. And we probably have equivalent revenue.

**I don’t mind as much when they’re good, valid questions. I mind very much when they’re stupid, thoughtless questions that could be answered by reading the item description. I understand that the item may not be your size/style/exactly what you’re looking for. I won’t be hurt if you don’t buy the item being discussed. But for goodness’ sake, say “thank you” when I answer your questions!

***Another seller grieved over the vintage piece sold to a customer who then gleefully exclaimed that she actually planned to shred and blood-stain it for a Zombie Crawl costume. We can’t always win.

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3 Replies to “In Which Things May Change”

  1. I get it! I know how much work you put into the shop…and unfortunately, many people don’t notice or care…and the profit isn’t there. But I also see how much you love doing it. The way your face lit up showing us your new teeny moo cards, for instance. In the end, it has to be your decision. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” I like to add, “Or not. But at least I’m doing what I love!”

    Best thoughts, no matter your decision!

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  2. Ugh. I was wondering if this might happen some day. I think it is SO COOL how thorough you are. I was just telling Mom about your Wardrobe Department sales last night. I know it’s frustrating that others aren’t through and I’m sorry they are rewarded with sales anyway. Boo to them! Wonder if you could get hooked up with a seller who doesn’t have time to do the hunting… you hunt, they list, you get a percentage of the sales? Or hunt solely to consign at the brick and mortar store? Just thoughts. I know the thrill of the hunt and the find (LOOKITLOOKITLOOKIT! Bowls!) and the research. Any way to take a breather from it all for a bit and focus on other things? Pick it back up when you feel refreshed… Hang in there, my friend!

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  3. Sorry to see you are feeling this way. Maybe it’s just that you need a break…maybe it really is just too much anymore.

    @asandford has a good suggestion, though, about having someone else do the listing and research. They might be happy to work out some sort of arrangement—even do the work as a way to “earn” items from the shop.

    Like

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