The Saga of the Goldenrod Hat, the trials and tribulations of selling vintage clothes online ~ on eBay, Bonanza and Etsy, ~ and the love of hats! And, the issue of custom designing things for people!
All of these topics have been churning in my mind lately as I am getting ready to list and try, once more, the daunting process of selling Some of my vintage clothes online!
People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you sell some things on eBay or Etsy?” And “Why don’t you open an eBay or Etsy store?” or, “Are some of the things you are writing about for sale? As I am diligently at work getting a series of new listings ready for my online vintage clothing sales venues and the experience of selling the Goldenrod Hat churns in my mind reminding me to consider why I am doing it because online sales can be a mega watt nightmare! People ask me all the time, “Why don’t you sell on eBay or why haven’t you opened an Etsy store.” Well, I do sell online sometimes, and so far I have done it on eBay and Bonanza. That experience I will share with you below. Then you will see why it is not on my list of favorite ways to spend my time!I have been suffering from eBay burnout because of it! I did it for over a year. Now, however, I have some new and some formerly unsold items so I am going to try it again, this time on all three venues: eBay, Bonanza and Etsy. It is a lot of work. But more about that later. I’ll write about my new experiences when I get those listings up. Here is what I have already experienced below.
I am using a blogging theme here, on my blog site. That is a template for writing and posting blogs. In Web Speak or Blog Speak it is called a theme. There are thousands (I think) to choose from. All with different features – it is complex and mind-boggling! I now call it Mind-Blogging. I spent many hours going over them, trying to choose one to fit my needs. I actually need to be able to post a lot of text and a lot of pictures. I am not completely satisfied with this current theme. I’d like for instance, to be able to post all the photos I took of the pictured pretty Goldenrod Hat I sold recently on Ebay.
Thinking about both experiences (which include blogging, selling vintage clothes online, and the sale of the Goldenrod Hat) has led me to write about the selling of vintage clothing experience on eBay demonstrating what that is like with photos of the yellow hat.
I wished I could put a gallery of photos up – to show (as an example) many angles of the hat all the ways it can be worn, etc. I have about 20 of them. Instead I have decided to post them throughout this post. It is the only way the blogging software theme allows me to do it, but it will also add interest to the essay. This is an experiment! both in blogging and in writing about the eBay selling experience in this online format.
I took them to post that hat for sale on eBay. Where I finally sold it, for $60. The Goldenrod Hat that is. Not enough! After all the work I went to and the time it took! It was so much trouble! I had to repost it 9 times before someone finally bought it! That is about a $2 fee to Ebay every time. This is because you have to post it anew every 30 days. I had it up for sale for about a year! Then, when it finally sold, I had to find a clean and attractive box, use new tissue paper, buy all that, pay shipping which ended up being $15 w/ insurance and tracking. (I had under estimated that cost. And shipping fees had escalated – with 2 price increases – during the time I had the hat listed.) Go to the PO, wait in line, and to top it all off pay eBay their high% commission and the commission to PayPal. The buyer wanted to barter. She wanted $15 off the original list price. It took about 7 emails back and forth to negotiate that. I finally took $12 off, but never again. I had listed it at Buy it Now pricing for a fixed price. That was $72! That means, like in a store, the price is the price. If you want to barter, go to the Middle East! This was aggravating and nerve racking and unpleasant! Conflict! The buyer wants to “get a bargain” and enjoys the breaking the seller down process – the seller is offering a total treasure for an already fair price and would like it to be left at that. The process becomes terribly unpleasant for the seller. (It is insulting!)
Many eBay buyers enjoy playing a game with sellers which is the game of whittling down prices to the max, just for the thrill of doing so or seeing if they can. A Buy it Now Listing is an offer to buy it at a certain fixed price. It is not an auction starting price. Nor is it an opening barter price. I, as the seller, price an item at, let’s say, at $15. So, just like a department store. The item has a price tag on it and that is the price. Period. This is explained very clearly on eBay. Apparently there is a certain class of people who shop on eBay can’t read very well!
I was so frustrated in dealing with this customer and all the other people who had dinked me around on this particular hat, which had nearly sold 9x ,that I finally just sold it to get it over with. I was tired of dealing with it. Honestly, I feel insulted when I have to deal with this type of buyer. It is hard. They want to dicker, they have fun with that, it gives them a certain high. I know that, but I find it a drag. For the seller, you guys, this is no fun at all. But eBay buyers are usually very cheap. They want to feel like they are getting a steal. I am not selling steals. I am selling treasures. Period. If I own something it is special. If I post it for sale it is unique, in very good condition and rare. I price things very fairly. If a sale went smoothly and quickly it would yield me a bit of a profit or allow me to rotate things in and out of my collection, If it is as much of a hassle as it is it isn’t profitable, or fun and therefore isn’t worth the trouble it takes. It turns out to be a burn! This is why many eBay sellers have quit – over eBay burnout. But only one of the many reasons. eBay has also made all their policies favor the big box type of seller over the person with a few unique items.
I owned this lovely hat for several years before I sold it. Now I wish I still did. After I have gone through all of this! I got to know it far more intimately during the eBay/Bonanza selling process and now, during the blogging process. Thus I am telling you this story. In brief, believe it or not! Really!
Now I really miss my Goldenrod Hat! It makes me sad! I’ve wanted to wear it several times and I don’t have it anymore! Tears! I can only hope the person/people who bought it , a woman who referred to themselves as we – (I wondered if she were writing/speaking in the royal plural?) – her tenses switched around in a confusing way just as I have demonstrated here – like or likes it as much as I do. This is always hard, usually impossible, to know once an item is sold and out of my possession.
BACK TO THE GOLDENROD HAT!I had it posted on Bonanza as well, also for 9 months. So, when I sold it on eBay, I had to take that Bonanza listing down which was also sad as thhis hat had been selected for featured picks many times and thus was featured on the homepage of the Bonanza site and got written about by the other sellers and the visitors to the site over and over again. They liked the color and the style and the story and the pictures… It also led people to my site as a result. it was doing me more good on a PR basis than selling it! Live and learn.
By the way, – you, as a seller, – are allowed to list things concurrently on Bonanza and eBay and any other sites as well. Yes, all at the same time! You just have to take them down if you sell it on another site. Not a problem. It is so hard to find a potential buyer out there that you have to list items in as many places as possible. And yes, I do know how to use the search engines. Note, it took me 9 months to sell the Goldenrod Hat that I had listed on two major auction sites and featured on Personal Picks regularly. I had good visibility, such as one can maneuver to get it on both eBay and Bonanza. It just took that long for a buyer who could finally make a decision to move on it to do so. That is the life of selling vintage pieces on eBay. It is very slow!
This particular piece was chosen many times by other sellers to be featured in personal Picks so it shows up immediately looking very desirable when anyone logs into the sight. I have an item featured on personal Picks almost all the time because of my appealing photos and high quality merchandise. But take note! It is the other sellers who select the the merchandise to be featured on personal picks. Not buyers.
DURATION: I began selling on eBay and Bonanzle a year ago. Over the last year, I have sold about 50 of my prize vintage items on Bonanza and eBay and I actually totally regret it every time! Here is why. I lose the piece I sell. I do not make enough money to benefit from that, it takes me way more time than I end up being compensated for when all is said and done. And it just isn’t worth the time investment and the aggravation. The money I make barely pays the costs of maintaining the sites and the fees involved and I have to use funds from other sources to cover those some months. There are fees and commissions every step of the way. Shipping is expensive. I do not think the USPS postage service would even manage to be in business anymore if it were not dealing with online buyers and sellers. You have to figure in the cost of the containers too. It just keeps adding up. I recycle as much as possible but I always ship attractively. I don’t want someone buying a pretty vintage dress and receiving it in a dreadful looking wrapper all wrinkled and torn. In the buyers mind shipping is part of the cost of an item. In the sellers mind it isn’t because the seller receives none of that money. It all goes to the carrier service that gets the item to the buyer.
To post and sell an item on eBay you have to put up an excellent well researched description, take and post an entire gallery of beautiful photos, deal with the immense amount of time it takes to set up the listing so it looks very appealing, and then, once it is up, inevitable tweak it a few times as problems with the listing and eBay or Bonanza tend to occur.
Then you have to wait, and wait and wait for a buyer, meanwhile you have inquiries you have to answer – almost every day – from flakes who have no intention of ever making a purchase but want to write to you and chat because they haven’t got a life! I have found that the person who usually ends up buying an item either has written me with a quick shipping question or has been able to come to a decision on his or her own and make the purchase. There is an entire subculture of buyers out there who just like to write back and forth.
Then there is one of the biggest aggravations of all! Waiting for and collecting their payments! I can realistically say that 50% of the buyers I get do not follow through and complete the sale! They tie up your merchandise, causing you all sorts of work to try to collect, deal with eBay to do this (there are complex rules that must be followed,) wait the alloted very long time (it is weeks actually) before eBay will allow you to re-list the item, get the fees they and PayPal charge for the un-consumated transaction taken off your account (this requires many emails and phone calls and hours of time per situation.) Now it is common to see notices “Bid only if you intend to pay!” posted on sellers sights. This is because there have been so many instances in which a buyer commits to buy and doesn’t ever follow through. It may sound negative to read such a posting but, if you had been through the process of selling and experienced the non paying sellers you would understand the reason for it.
When the hat or other item has finally been sold and some money from that is in my PayPal account, it is mostly eaten up by my monthly Inkfrog fees, and my eBay fees. And my PayPal fees, etc. I am not able to sell a lot on eBay. I do not have a lot to sell and I do not have the time it takes to nurse maid the sites and the possible potential buyers. Mostly it is the aggravation factor that I don’t have time for. It is terrible.
eBay CONTINUED : I never sell by auction anymore, that was a total bust, I sell only on the Buy it Now program where I set a fixed price for my listing so I can be sure to get some money for the item. At first I was all excited about the prospects of doing auctions on eBay, and I studied up on it, did it and lost big time on every item I posted that way. It was an awful experience! eBay buyers are notoriously cheap. They want to pick beautiful things up for a song. Like $500 brand new designer blouses in perfect condition with their tags still on them! for $9.99. eBay encourages you to list an item such as that that way, in order to instigate a buying frenzy – you know the theory of how auctions operate, and they teach you that method will encourage bidding to start and continue to a fair market price! What a line! It doesn’t. For the first two months I sold I listed things on auction, the first two times using their advised low entry price method, and when I got terrible burned on that (actually selling the $500 blouse for $9.99 – stab me in the heart!) and about 10 more similar transactions, I changed to a starting bid of the lowest amount I would take, and for a month, that is all I sold the items for. I did list to properly utilize their search engines. I did a tremendous amount of research. I talked to a lot of other sellers who are selling vintage clothes. I found that all of them are having similar problems. The old timers told me eBay has really changed in the last couple of years. It is a very hard place to sell our type of merchandise now. Seasoned sellers who had been doing it for 10 years or 7years, etc. advised me to list items on Buy It Now for a fixed price, so I moved over to that and stuck with it.
Buy it Now! listing is the only way it is even barely worth the aggravation involved. You have to list at a fixed price and renew the listing every 30 days if you don’t sell it and want to keep it on the market. Now buyers are watching something for 3 months. Waiting to see if it has sold. If it hasn’t they contact you – after a listing has expired – wanting to circle around eBay and avoid paying your fees included, in their minds, as part of the price. eBay doesn’t want you to do this, understandably. They want their commission from the sales, not just the listing fees. They get both. Many buyers practice fee avoidance. They wait for a listing they like to expire and contact you, the seller, right after it does so asking for a discount of $15 or so from the listed price. This happened with the Goldenrod Hat! The buyer, true to their pattern of behavior, contacted me the very day the listing expired offering $15 less than the asking price. I told her – “I still have to pay eBay their commission because you found me and the hat while I had it listed there.” This is true.
The hard cold fact of the vintage clothing selling online world now is that you have to put an item up as if putting in a store for sale and wait for the right person who wants it to come along. This can take months! Maybe even years. It is a waiting game. The right person has to find the right dress or hat at the right moment!
I have been amazed that normal stores, like Nordstroms and Neiman Marcus, JC Penny’s, and Sears, (note my fair range of types of stores and price points used for comparison) can list an item of clothing for sale and use only one photo and sell it for a good fair price. While, on Ebay, you are expected to take and post 15 excellent photos to sell a vintage one-of-a-kind spectacular piece for a song. I realize they are Nieman Marcus and Nordstoms and JC Penny’s and Sears. and I am just little bitty Lady Violette, but my quality level is as high and higher and many of my items are as special and definitely more unique as they are rare and often one-of-a-kind. I also realize that I am selling antique and vintage and pre-owned and pre-used items, but I am extremely selective. People who buy something from me off my eBay or Bonanza sites are going to receive very nice items and the prices are very fair. If you are interested in taking a look go there, What do you think? It is pretty interesting.
MORE SPIN OFF FROM THE GOLDENROD HAT LISTING EXPERIENCE :
The Goldenrod Hat came from The beautiful City of Paris grand San Francisco department store, now closed. When I was selling it I met an elderly lady who had shopped there, in a doctor’s office waiting room, who told me stories about that store. Including about the delectable treats served in the elegant mezzanine dining room. Those were the days in which women got dressed up to go downtown to shop and have lunch or tea, wearing gloves and hats and carrying beautiful handbags that matched their shoes. They dressed to be seen, to show off their elegant outfits or “getups” as my mother called them. It was one of the main venues for doing that. You would go to lunch and try to get a good table to position yourself to see and be seen. The hosts and waiters knew it was their job to provide that strategic seating element, and they would be well tipped for doing so. What you wore that day would prove to be very important socially. You would meet your friends, your rivals would see you. Your costumes would be analyzed and gossip ripped to shreds, Your photo could very well show up in the paper, and hopefully some man like Cary Grant or Gary Cooper would just happen by. You know! Like in the movies… Anyway, I ended up with the recipe from this lady, for the City of Paris Dining Room’s Creme Brulee! She had asked the maitre d’ for it and gotten it just before the store closed down. I intend to make it soon and if it is great, which I expect, I will post it here for everyone to try!
Dressing up to go shopping in those good old days was a performance art. Ladies planned carefully what they would wear, what handbag they would carry, which handkerchief, mirrored compact, shoes and lipstick would properly set off their outfit. They dressed to be looked at. They had their hair done and wore makeup and jewelry. This truly was their performance. Their version of an appearance on the stage by a broadway actress. Church was a similar event. These were socially important venues where you met people in the old days.
ADDITIONALLY, the GOLDENROD HAT EXPERIENCE LED TO THIS!
The buyer, asked me if I knew of anyone in NYC who could do custom hat designing for her! And, fortunately, I said, “YES!” I did. That person was my old friend, Mindy Fradkin, now married and named Mindy Fradkin-Mousaa, but also now known, professionally, as Princess WOW! She used to predominantly design and sell beautiful couture level hats to private clients and high end shops. She also worked as a professional photographic shoot fashion stylist. she also designed hats for women to wear to The Kentucky Derby! and many other noteworthy events.
She also was a talented entertainer and comedienne and showed her hats at events called Hat Happenings! She was known as the Mad Hattress! these were often held in places like the ultra-elegant Barbizon Plaza Hotel, (Yes! the one that Eloise lived in!) Mindy would dress up in wonderful costumes and wonderful hats and entertain the guests and, at the same time, end up taking orders for custom design hats. At that time her hats were sold under her then label, Mindy Fradkin, Important Hats! and she was also known as The Mad Hatress of Hat Happenings! She also did a comedy act, with her hats, in night clubs. She would use the hats to change characters. She was very good and very funny and triste! at times, and it all fit together marvelously. Mindy was a force of nature!
Over the years Mindy’s personal and career emphasis changed from predominantly promoting the wearing of hats because they are charming and fun, to predominantly entertaining and social consciousness raising work. she has become known as Princess WOW! and she still wears hats all the time to aid in promoting her causes, but she puts most of her time, effort and energies into her other projects. I have blogged about them, but please look back over the last few weeks of postings to see what they are about. And see links to these at end of this blog post/article.
I contacted Mindy/Princess WOW! for my eBay buyer, and put them in touch with each other. They are now involved in the complex back and forth give and take negotiations of the eBay buyer discussing with the milliner artist/designer the making and purchase of a custom design couture level hat. A one-of-a-kind hat creation. This is going on and on and on. Same as the transaction I experienced selling the same woman The Goldenrod Hat that led to this interaction. She/we can’t decide quite, she/we wants pure white, not off white, She/we will send a deposit at such and such a date, she/we has to change that and postpone to send money until the 26th of February.
The very busy Princess WOW! has sent the eBay referred buyer many photos of the kinds of hats she does. (She can make anything.) And written many very tactful and patient emails back and forth. – still no money has been exchanged, No actual order has been taken. This has gone on for over a month! It took the buyer 3 weeks to buy the Goldenrod from me.
I did not really expect her (mysterious eBay buyer of the Goldenrod Hat) to follow through, but she finally did. She dinked around, then called Princess WOW! back a month later. As they sometimes do! So I have explained all this to Princess WOW! And advised her to take the order and fill it if she receives a deposit, but not to put anymore effort into it until that transpires. Wow! lives an hour outside of NYC now. She will have to travel into the city to get supplies for making this white special order hat – only one, mind you, – and also, once it is under way again to take it to the blocker! It will require a lot of time and a lot of effort not to mention her expertise in making the hat. Her hats now are custom creations, she does them for private clients with whom she has experienced completely reliable follow through. She cannot economically, afford to be dangled along like this. This is the problems one has as a custom designer. The clients can be very high maintenance. It is OK once you have an established relationship. LIke MIndy has had with me for many years, but some supposed potential buyers are so bizarre and indecisive that they aren’t even worth working with! Ever! Under any circumstances.
I asked Goldenrod Hat buyer what she did. She told me she was in the medical profession. Princess WOW! asked her what she did, and she finally admitted she was working on a movie and she wanted the hats for the actress to wear in a film. She explained the reason for her delays by saying, “We only have $300 in her hat budget this month. But next month, on exactly the 26th at exactly 2PM I will be able to make a $120 deposit. Until then I will not be able to be reached by email.” This was to be toward a $300 hat.
$300 is not expensive for a hand made one of a kind hat custom made! It will take 16 hrs to make and, additionally, 2 or 3 trips into the city which take up to an hour each way. Princess WOW! told the buyer she had worked on movie sets and costumed films in the past and knows what is involved. WOW! is the most sympathetic and understanding person, but this buyer was so weird! Finally, after 2 months of talking about it it became impossible and WOW! had to tell the eBay buyer she could not do it for that price. WOW! decided it wasn’t worth her trouble at any price. And it isn’t.
I AM THE PERFECT HAT CUSTOMER: I figure out what I want. I look at her collection or supply her with drawings or photos of what I want. We discuss and decide and I place an order with a deposit. If I need to do so – to help her speed up the production process – I supply some of the materials, such as fabric or netting or flowers. Each case is different. I pay the balance and shipping as soon as I am notified that the order is filled and ready to ship. I receive my hat a few days later, Everyone is happy. I now own over 20 of her hats. I wear them often. I have written articles which were published in NY about my experiences wearing them. I will soon post these on my blog. I have been over 100% satisfied with every hat I have ever bought from MIndy Fradkin Important hats, now/ Princess WOW! I have never had a single complaint or even the slightest misgiving. She delivers! But, I must add, I know exactly what it is like to be on her side of the drawing board! Why? Because I am a designer myself and have been through the exact same types of things that she has with the customer/client interaction processes! I design and sell jewelry and clothing. In fact, that is how we both met, Princess Wow! and Lady Violette We met when we were both presenting our designs at Henri Bendle in NYC in 1992!
THAT IS HOW TO BE THE PERFECT CUSTOM ORDER/COUTURE CUSTOMER!
WHY DO I LIKE COUTURE? WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT? –
It is about the unique experience. And the process, I like the uniqueness of the pieces. The custom designs and the colors, the fit, how well made they are, how I can make or have made an item that is a true work of art suited just to me. I love special unique, beautiful things. I am one! After all. And I embrace this fact 100%. The things I make and sell are not meant for everybody. Nor are Princess WOWS! I have most basic things I need. Beyond that it is about self expression! Dressing beautifully is an art form. By doing so we are able to bring pleasure to ourselves and others. I embrace this.
I am an artist and this is one of the ways I choose, as such, to present myself. and I greatly enjoy seeing it in other people, too.
BACK TO THE GOLDENROD HAT: FULL CIRCLE to THE CIRCLE OF HATS FRIENDS –
I had not spoken with Princess WOW! for quite a while when I got the request to from the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer to refer her to a custom hat designer. She wanted to know if I knew someone who could make her something extra special to order. She lived in NYC in Chelsea and wanted someone nearby. I’m in Seattle, on the West Coast, but somehow I am the only person she knew of to ask. In retrospect I am now wondering whether or not she may have gone through all the hat designers within a 100 mile radius of her home and work!
We reconnected at this exact moment only because of her request. I’d had Princess WOW! in the front of my mind and I had a box of vintage clothes to send her sitting in my hallway. But that is always there, – interesting suitably WOW! items I am collecting. I seek out unique items for her and other artist friends. eBay buyer of Goldenrod Hat asked me why I do this? And what kind of vintage clothes? I replied, “I know her style and I like to do this for her. It is what I do as an artist. And it varies as to kind.” She didn’t ask me any more about it.
Well, Princess WOW! and I talked on the phone. She was in a huge whirlwind of promotional activity and high pressure performance schedules. In fact had a concert coming up in about 10 days and nothing exotic enough to wear for it that had not already been seen. I had just the thing – sitting in my box of costumes for her – a bright hot pink Indian Silk Sari Tunic and Harem Pants outfit with massive amounts of colorful metallic embroidery. I knew it was perfect. I offered to send it right away. And I did. It was perfect. It got worn for that performance and it was a huge hit. And it fit her perfectly. I know these things. This is my area of speciality. She knows this and knows she can trust me.
I sent that Sari and several other great things – Bright beautiful vintage silk scarves covered with bright flower prints. Quite a few of them. A flowered vintage chiffon negligee, a lacy green camisole, etc., several pairs of gloves. A great box of beautiful items.
While all this was getting done, eBay buyer of Goldenrod Hat was looking at many slides Princess WOW! had sent her showing pictures of her work and hemming and hawing over whether should she do this or get that and in what shade of white, etc. Nothing was actually getting started. Because she hasn’t been able to make a decision. This is a bit embarrassing to me because Princess WOW! was only willing to take her (the eBay buyer of my Goldenrod Hat) as a client because she was referred by me. And because I am her good client.
Unfortunately referring a flake to your custom designer is bad for you as a client. You have to be careful. It can negatively impact the relationship you have with your dressmaker or tailor or hat designer to refer a person to them who wastes their very valuable (financially) time and causes them unneeded aggravation. I am really quite worried about that in this current situation, Princess WOW! and I have discussed it. She is irritated about it. It is a touchy go so to speak. I am unlikely ever to do business with eBay Goldenrod Hat buyer again, but should she turn out to actually start buying Princess WOW! could, or could have, picked up a decent client. We have no way of knowing this in the beginning of a relationship with a new buyer.
Here’s why….Right now eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat and an unknown entity that emails with her and is included in the “we…….” references she makes write “we are unable to email or send any deposit until Feb. 26th.” Who’s we? She is the only one on her eBay acct. her PayPal acct. or her email. It is either her partner of some sort, (with whom she makes all fashion and spending decisions) or it is she alone speaking in the royal plural. This round about indirectness is bugging Princess WOW! (I know from personal experience that it is a totally typical of eBay buyers style stall. ) All I can do is tell WOW! that and advise that she came through finally for me and paid and I sent the Goldenrod Hat. I think, based on my personal experience dealing with eBay buyers, that she just wants to wait until the end of the month to plunk down any cash. So, all we can do is wait it out.
BUT NOW I HAVE A PROBLEM: Trouble is: I now want to order another hat. Princess WOW! has informed me, via royal decree, that, in order to consolidate her time, she wants to produce both hats – my new one and the one eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat may order – into one supply shopping trip and one production episode and one trip to the blocker, so she can make up both orders and ship them with one trip to the shipper at the same time. As a designer I totally understand this requirement. And I am willing to wait, but, the truth is, suddenly, this eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat is holding things up for me. I am having to wait longer for my order! And who knows how long. this person I do not even know, for whom I did a favor, is influencing, and to tell you the honest truth, slightly fucking up, my life!
NEXT EPISODE; While eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat is dilly-dallying around, I have caught up with Princess WOW! on a personal friend basis, and finding her extremely busy and in desperate need of help I have jumped into my old role of personal assistant, designer and stylist with her. I have gone into full gear and run around as a stylist and assembled and sent her a costume she has worn in one concert performance to positive acclaim. I have shipped her several boxes of accessories, and fabrics from which to construct hats to wear with her costumes. Additionally, I have designed from scratch, and made her, from the bottom up two more complete original concert ensembles. These are two evening length dresses/concert performance gowns that I have designed, drafted and constructed from the ground up. I have had numerous shipping trips to fabric stores and sewing accessories shops, and I have bought the shoes, stockings, and underwear that are to be worn with the costumes. I have designed and made the very elaborate jewelry to wear with it. And I have designed and procured the makeup she will wear with it. When Princess WOW! gets her costumes from me she will open the box and everything she needs to put on and make up for her entrance onto the stage through the entire performance with several co-ordinated changes will be right there. All pre-assembled and ready to put on and go on with the show. The costumes are made to measure, hand beaded, and sequined, they are expertly designed, assembled and sewn – a couture creation from the get go. And they are one of a kind originals. They are also designed and made with the special needs of performance kept in mind. So they are comfortable, she will be able to move in them, and they will not come apart, etc. Everything that needs to be taken into account for her special performance need will have been considered. Needless to say we have had to send several emails back and forth to check measurements and such. But, because we know each other personally, and as clients and designers this is working out well.
While talking about her sewing and clothing needs I was told about everything else going on her life and found out that she needed a letter of reference written to help her procure a grant, so I did that, The grant was granted. Amazing! good news! Then, she had me look at her Princess WOW! blog and Facebook sights, She needed help.And I flew into action. I studied the things already up, figured out what she needed done, cleared it with her, had her make me an author, and wrote a few blogs to put up to co-ordinate her sight. We have posted those an d have more in the works. She needed them up by yesterday and tomorrow, We did one on Valentine’s Day. We made it a day early! This is feeling so good! I co-ordinated all this activity with launching my own blog this two months ago. Thus we are able to run pertinent posts concurrently. A lot is happening!
Today, Princess Wow! just happened to ask me, in the middle of this flurry of activity, “What has happened with eBay Buyer of Goldenrod Hat? Have you heard from her? ” I had to say, “No, I havn’t. And we will undoubtedly have to wait to hear from her until she said she would call you next.” WOW! said, “I just don’t get it, how anybody in this day and age can even be in business and not go online every day. That will be 3 weeks from the time she last emailed me. ” That is right, it will! and it remains to be seen whether she will ever get back to either of us. It is very rude, but she probably doesn’t realize this or see any of it in the way it effects us, that is, in the way her online shopping habits effect the artist/designers through the ultra slow trickle down to the order and the deposit and the payment way – finally, if ever, to the artist! I can bet you she is cluelessly ignoring the way this is effecting us.
Thus, I decided to write a blog post about the process. So that eBay shoppers such as the Golden Rod Hat Buyer might finally realize how they influence the market.
I myself have not posted any vintage items for sale on either eBay or Etsy over the last few months, but I have been getting a few more ready with the hope of selling some beautiful prom dresses and shoes and elegant little purses and accessories this Spring. To be honest, experiences like dealing with eBay buyer of the Glodenrod Hat and several other difficult ones have dampened my enthusiasm for listing and selling beautiful vintage treasures online.
I simply had to take a break! However, I am gritting my teeth and plan to try it again. I have been photographing and writing descriptions for listings all week. I have about 30 items just about ready to post.
Artists and designers are not bad business people. Just the opposite. They are excellent business people in my experience.
FULL CIRCLE OF HATS FRIENDS: The only good that has come from the sale of my Goldenrod Hat on eBay transaction so far is that I have reconnected with my old design friend/comrade Princess WOW! and we are working together again. I am happy about that. I wanted to fill in the Goldenrod Hat Buyer. I had no idea what she did as a career. So I asked, and found out she is employed in the medical field. I asked if she loved hats as we do and if she collected them, and I got a rather round about answer. I sort of understood that she sort of did and sort of didn’t. It was a vague non-commital answer! I told her, via email, that I was immediately starting a new hat group, a group of people who were committed to hats, hat-making, hat-wearing and hat-history. I told her I was doing it right here and now because we had all connected and she could be included if she wished. I included her because she was the reason that Princess Wow and I had reconnected. I added her name and address to my founders notice letter. It now included, Me, Princes WOW!, and the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer. Princess wow! was excited. She jumped up and down at the opportunity! Yeah! So was I! the Princess said, “You must contact Opera Singer Client of MIne. She will want to be included. She is the second biggest collector of my hats after you! ” So, I contacted the Opera Singer and she did want to be included. I also made friends with her. I am now full tilt ahead enthusiastic about having started this new Circle of Hats Friends, but It is only for the committed. It is not for dabblers.
I have to determine what to do with the eBay Goldenrod Hat Buyer person. She didn’t voluntarily join my circle. I offered to join her into it as a cool courtesy. I don’t think she appreciates this. I am going to proceed to make the circle a professional entity. This week. I have a wonderful picture I want to use with which to officially initiate it. It is a great photo of me, smiling, wearing a Garbo nautical style hat that was designed and made for me by The Princess of WOW! when she was known as Mindy Fradkin: Important Hats. It is a perfect wave to the old company and salute to the new one of my new hat enthusiasts circle. This will be a professional circle – an organization of designers and artists committed to the art of the hat from the design conception through its production through the act of wearing it. We must promote hats. In all directions. I am a writer, a dancer and a jewelry and clothing designer and a hat model, Mindy is a designer, and entertainer, the Opera Singer is a stage performer who wears the hats. We all wear the hats in our work and as fashionable women. We are not alone as you can see from the Royal Wedding a couple of weeks ago! I was not enamored of most of the hats worn there but I am glad that they all had to wear hats per Royal decree. (Yes, it is required!) I like Kate Middleton’s taste in clothing and hats, but her wedding guests were another matter! ‘
I can see including a few photographers who like hats and like to photograph women in them. The Circle of Hats Friends is for people who are serious about the wearing of hats and the promoting of wearing hats. You can look forward to seeing a lot more about hats on this blog in the future!
I was initially bothered by the Ebay Goldenrod Hat Buyer issue. In no way did I want to kill my friend’s possible order of a hat. But now, since both of us have found her to be much too difficult to work with and decided not to work with her any more I decided it was fine to write about her to show how and why some buyers are impossible and selling online is not always a pleasant or smooth experience. ( I am not mentioning her name of course. )In every way online selling of vintage clothes is way too labor intensive for the money you make. Example: You have to take and post 8 photos of an item from every angle to sell it for $12! Versus a store like Nordstroms has to post only 1 picture in order to sell the same item at 10X the price! Each Photo has to be pretty good too – as if Avedon took it! I generally post way more photos than are really needed to be sure to cover my bases.
I have finally decided that it is necessary to teach buyers how to buy! And how to be good buyers. Companies fire customers who are too much trouble to deal with all the time. This makes it obvious that some training needs to be done on the behalf of designers, sellers, and customers so that people better understand each other!
The buyer of the Goldenrod Hat is a great example of buyer nuttiness. I feel that buyers need to understand this so they don’t act like that! Princess WOW! and I have discussed the fact that we need to inform buyers what is expected and teach them how to be good customers. Everyone involved will benefit from that! The hat designer or dress designer is an artist. She wants to please the client but must have the co-operation of the client to make a beautiful garment and have a good experience with great final results all the way around!
ABOUT SELLING ON EBAY, ETSY and BONANZLE
Everything I choose to buy and sell and list is in beautiful condition, immaculate, often carefully and expensively cleaned, and restored if necessary to make it as pristine as possible. Everything I have listed and sold and will continue to, when I do it, is top quality. I only buy for myself. I do not go out to buy stuff to sell on eBay , Etsy or Bonanza . Everything I have collected I own because I wanted it personally for myself. I would never have acquired it in the first place had I not really loved it and knew how beautiful and special it was. Therefore I am only offering things for sale because they are up to my own standards which are very high!
I select things to list for sale from my own personal collection. I am completely different than the people who sell their mother’s and grandmother’s treasures that they have inherited and don’t appreciate for whatever they can get. (Thus insulting their mothers and grandmothers in my opinion! ) In fact I have a lot in common with those little old ladies who originally owned the stuff! If your mother or grandmother would have liked it, I probably will like it! And that brings me to size. I said little old ladies. Vintage clothing is usually quite small. It usually only fits women up to a modern size 4 or 6. Rarely do I ever see it in large sizes. This limits me to buyers who are small in stature, like vintage, like high maintenance clothing and accessory objects and are willing to take care of it. I am highly specialized! And I only ever have one of something, so far! This is not the way one makes big profits in this day and age. You have to sell in volume at low prices to profit now, most of the time. Look at Target for example, Nordtroms, Macy’s. Walmart. I am definitely not that!
Oops! Time to insert another picture so you don’t get bored reading this! Doing so also will show you how many for darn sake! photos I have to post of each item. Lots, huh!
I know some people who sell on eBay shop for new old stock, They go around and find locked up warehouses full of never sold or worn merchandise from say 1920 or 1930! Would I ever love to come upon such a thing! However, I do not have the resources to buy it at this time. I should mention scarcity. The kind of things I own are extremely rare. And are getting more and more so as they have gotten older and as people have sought them out. So the source’s are dying out. There is less to be had. Thrift stores have raised their prices to astronomical levels for items of terribly low quality. They have come to think that they should get the same prices they are under the allusion sellers receive on eBay. So they jack up the prices. It is common to see a very dirty old coat full of moth holes, with torn lining, no label, stains on it, missing buttons and so dirty no one would want it, in a thrift store for $29.99. I am tempted to quote Maria von Trapp in the first act of both the play and the film version of The Sound of Music. Maria, who apologized, when she came to Baron von Trapp’s home from the convent seeking employment caring for his children, on the dismal state of her dress. She said that the clothing she had been given to wear by the nuns was so shabby, “Even the poor didn’t want it.” That is one of my favorite quotes. This can be seen in the beginning of the movie! It is worth watching it for. She was immediately given several adorable drindls to wear and looked very pretty. This must have helped the Baron to fall in love with her. Looking pretty always helps to kindle romance, Right?
There has been only one benefit from selling on eBay and that is some of the people I have met. I have met some very interesting sellers who have shared their experience with me. And I have had a few buyers who have been really cool and funny and made selling to them a good experience even though I didn’t make much or any profit. I have received a lot of compliments on the high quality of my listings. And for my photos. It is nice to hear that, and that, partly, has influenced me to start blogging about vintage clothes because I want to benefit from people reading what I know about the genre and seeing the photos I have taken of all these beautiful clothes. I think the efforts I have gone to in writing about them and documenting them will benefit more people this way. And I think I will benefit more from the blogging experience. Hopefully I will build up a good following of people serious in the genre of vintage clothing and the history involved in it who enjoy reading what I write and studying the pictures. I can write about more things too which I will enjoy because I feel it is all integrated.
I have also been asked about the hand sewing – millinery sewing techniques I mentioned, were used in making the Goldenrod Hat. As far as the sewing techniques: You can see them in my other Goldenrod Hat photos. I am going to try to get them up later today.
Please realize that the formant of the theme I am using does not allow me to post a big thematically presented gallery of photos. Thus I decided to post the many angles of the Goldenrod Hat throughout this article to add illustrations and give a thorough “picture” of the hat.
You see? How intimately I have gotten to know that hat? And how my involvement with it even though I have sold it, continues to grow? Because I have written about it and used it to describe all that is frustrating about selling vintage clothing online! I am actually sorry I sold it! I really miss it now! I have gotten to know it so very very well! I posted it for sale because I hardly ever wore it. With all this activity surrounding it I have become more fond of it! I have wanted to wear it several times since I no longer have it! At least I have the photos I took, but alas, the hat no longer! It is a real work of art in every way and I feel sad about having let it go. I do know this though! Had the person who bought it been easy to deal with, appreciative and nice I would be happy to have sold it to her!
I honestly wish my lovely little Goldenrod Hat from the grand City of Paris San Francisco Department Store had gone to a new owner who loved and valued it as I did! Hopefully it ends up being worn by an actress in a film who compliments it and enjoys it and wears it well. If I were the costume person who located it for this purpose I would have sent me the seller, a photo of it modeled by the actress and a nice note! The eBay buyer who ended up with it has not done so. She has eluded to Princess Wow! that it is for a movie, which is why I have concocted this possible scenario in my head!
If she really is a costumer for films she should be building relationships with vintage sellers of unique items for her future needs. That is how I would be doing it!