2016 may have been a bad year for some, but it was an excellent year for me. I took my choir on our first overnight trip, my husband had no surgeries, and I opened an Etsy shop.
My Etsy shop has been working out really well for me on several levels. First, I've actually turned a profit. You never know with a new endeavor if that's going to happen, so I feel lucky that it not only made me money, but starting making a profit within months of opening my shop. But more than the financial aspect, I love it. I love the thrill of the hunt. Estate sales and thrift stores provide a similar but different treasure hunting experience, but both have the same drug-like high that results from a really great find. And then there's the cleaning, the mending, the measuring, the photographing, the listing, the Instagraming - all of it is so much fun. It's like playing dress-up with a life size doll and sharing it with a world full of like-minded, vintage-loving strangers and friends.
However, my first year of my Etsy shop was not without its snafus. First there was the girl who got really angry that the dress seemed old (right, because it's from the 60s, so what did you think there?) and that the fabric of the hem was "badly cut" (it was a hand made dress with a raw edge). When she complained and I offered her a full refund minus the cost of shipping, she sent me increasingly insane responses and then opened a case against me with Etsy. Long story short, Etsy figured out she was crazy and closed the case, and I added a new item to my FAQ section. (No, not "please no crazies", just "vintage dresses are, in fact, not new.")
Then there was the hoax. It's called a "419 hoax" and while the person contacting me seemed to have a poor grasp of English and it felt fishy, I couldn't see how it could possibly go wrong. They offered me more than the cost of my item and wanted to pay me through a cashier's check, plus extra that they wanted me to send on to "movers" in another state. This made me really uncomfortable, so I contacted Etsy, who sent me this:
Evidently, the check will clear but then a week later will be found to have no funds behind it. So you will owe the bank all the money you cashed and then forwarded on. Which is thousands more than they owed you. Moral of the story: If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely, 1,000% is.
Finally, the real kicker was my own fault. One of the very first things I listed was a Professor Cold Heart in his original packaging. I'd had him for years and it seemed like a great (and easy) place to start.
Isn't he beautiful? I listed him in May, and this past November, he sold.
Now, in the time between May and November, my inventory had exploded. It went from two totes (pictured here after my first Salvo Wednesday of this past summer - the two totes are at the foot of the bed):
To the current state of affairs:
I got rid of a vanity and a wicker "shelving" unit, and now I have 3 totes, a large and jam-packed garment rack, a desk with a sewing machine for mending, and two dress forms. It's a problem, albeit a happy problem.
To go from point A to point B, a lot of rearranging and organizing was required. The Professor was relocated. I went to where I assumed he would be, and there was no Professor.
This made me a little nervous, so I checked another spot. No Professor. Another spot. No Professor. I emptied the totes. No Professor. I moved the dressers. The garment rack. The bed. No Professor. I completely emptied my closet. No Professor.
I started breaking out in a cold sweat. You might not realize this, but it is really, really hard to ship an item you can't locate. In the 6 months since I'd opened my shop, I had over 100 sales and had earned 30+ 5 star ratings and I was really fond of my 5-star status. I had visions of my first 1-star rating because I was going to have to tell the buyer that I had lost the Professor.
In my panic, I decided to check Ebay. I figured I could find another, buy it, and sell it as if it was mine. Good plan! I looked and found this:
Look closely. Particularly at the sticker in the upper right corner. Compare it to the picture of mine from my listing. I might want to add that this was shipping from Rochester, NY... where I also live. I hadn't just found another Professor in the original packaging. I'd found MY Professor.
Yes, friends. That was my exact Professor Cold Heart. In my frenzy of reorganizing, somehow I had packed him up with things I was donating, and handed him off to a local Goodwill. Where someone else found him, recognized his value, and listed him on Ebay (with a much worse photo than mine, might I add).
I did the only thing I could. I bought him, friends. I asked the seller if I could pick him up. I drove to the seller's house, brought him home, packaged him up and sent him to my Etsy buyer. And I made 50 whole cents on the deal.
The moral of this story? Don't be a dummy.
In honor of my tremendous genius, I am ringing in the New Year with my very own Professor Cold Heart nail art, courtesy of the talented @thesnugbungalow - complete with a little heart as a nod to the Care Bears.
May this year bring me Etsy sales and another Magic Summer. And hopefully fewer stupid moments.