Thursday, January 31, 2013

Selling Your Stuff {Part 3/eBay}

I don't claim to be an expert at selling things on eBay, so this post may be short and sweet.  I think it goes without saying, though that selling on eBay can really pay off.  In my opinion, the biggest advantage to selling on eBay is that it provides sellers with a really large captive audience.  With Craigslist you are limited to a local audience.  Consignment stores are local and you'll only get a percentage of how much the store sells your item.  With eBay you have the world wide web :)

Used pair of Chaco's I sold for a friend (you know who you are:) this past summer for $65.
While eBay does take a cut of your sale price, it's pretty minimal.  In my opinion, the only real downside to eBay is the time you have to spend photographing your item and listing it on the site.  For this reason, I'd say my biggest piece of advice when it comes to selling on eBay is to make sure it's worth your while.

What do I mean by this?

I only list things on eBay that I have good reason to believe people are specifically searching for and that are going to bring a decent amount of money.  I have personally had the best luck with clothes and shoes.  You want to stick with brand names that people are out there looking to purchase for less than retail prices.  That sweater made by a brand you've never heard of?  Send that baby to a consignment shop where you'll have people coming through, looking at the selection (and excited about your cute sweater! :)  For someone to spot your sweater on eBay, there's got to be something about its description that brings it up in search results (ie. the brand name).  The same is true for small household items--don't waste your time listing them on eBay unless they happen to be made by a brand that is going to be sought after and bring money.  As cute as your silver picture frame that you no longer want may be, it's probably better off at a consignment shop (unless of course it's made by, say Tiffany & Co. :)

My mom got me these at the Clearance Store so I couldn't return them (they're the wrong size), so I'm selling them right now!  {There's still time to cast your bid :) }

While I don't have experience with this myself, I would imagine eBay is a great place to sell other {smaller--remember you have to ship it!} items made by desirable brands.  Think china patterns, linens, jewelry.  Just keep in mind your item's title and/or description needs to have some brand name/keyword that's going to bring a buyer to it.  I hope I'm not overstating the obvious?  Also, remember to take nice, clear pictures and provide a thorough and accurate description.  Oh, and I recently read that some study apparently showed that the best day for an auction to end is Sunday.  Who knew.

My cowboy boots I featured in a previous post deserve a little more explaining.  I actually bought them at a yard sale for $10!  I really loved them and was so excited to keep them for myself, but after I wore them around a little, I realized they were just not quite big enough :(  I figured I could sell them one way or another and at least make up my $10.  Little did I know that after a quick eBay search of their brand, they were likely to bring way more than $10.  Can you imagine my excitement when I got this email from eBay after the auction ended:

The way I see it, there are two lessons for us here:  Number 1, shopping at yard sales is a very, very good idea.  Number 2, selling your nice items at a yard sale is not such a savvy idea!

Had I sold them at a consignment shop, I never would have made this much once the shop took their cut.  Selling them on Craigslist could have taken forever.  Of course, I really did wish the boots would have worked for me, but making nearly $100 off of them helped to ease my sadness :)

I think that's all I've got regarding eBay.  If anyone has other tips, I'm all ears!

My Birthday Boy

My apologies for not posting yesterday as promised*.  I was a bit preoccupied celebrating a special little dude in my life who just happened to turn FOUR yesterday!

I have high hopes for four.  I think it is going to be a good year.

In heaven with his new remote control car, a gift from his sweet cousins!  

Enjoying his {coconut milk} ice cream at his birthday dinner :)

Sprinkles were a key ingredient for his cupcakes he took to school
This boy is a lover of cars, books, movies, let's not forget trucks and visits to the playground.  He is rather agile and quite good with balls (just joined his first soccer team in fact!), and oh how he loves to chase and be chased!  He's quite good with puzzles.  He rarely turns down an opportunity to help me with cooking or baking.  And speaking of food, while his diet may be limited, he is generally up for trying new foods (though he had some words for that asparagus spear on his plate the other night), which is such an encouragement to me.  He remains accepting of his dietary restrictions, though he has begun to ask more about foods and if "they have allergies."  (yes, that's my heart breaking right now.)  He is bosom buddies with his sister (except of course when he's not).  He simply adores his daddy and often asks when daddy will be home within an hour of waking up in the morning.  He is showing us more and more that he really has been listening when we've tried to instill in him good manners, and once he gets the fever, he can clean up his toys like nobody's business.
Lending a hand with sister :)

How awesome is his wall race track his grandparents gave him for Christmas?!
We've always thought of him as an introvert--and he probably is--but he has really begun to enjoy his friends this year.  This has been a joy to watch.  His sister should probably receive some of the credit for bringing him out of his shell.  He still may not love the spotlight, but he has warmed up to receiving attention this year for sure.  He struggles to process situations where he gets hurt or upset, and his tender heart has been moved by watching others feel the same.
Last night as a three-year old

Wade is so thankful for his dear friend and next door neighbor,  Joseph!
He can dress himself, and he wears big boy underwear all night long.  He prefers to be tucked in at night with a story and a song, but then he likes to fall asleep reading books to himself with his lights on.  While he used to never get out of the bed without our invitation, he now goes to the bathroom during the night if needed all by himself.
fun at the Magic House in St. Louis
Working on his soccer kicks!

He has grown so much, and we are so proud.  It was a happy birthday indeed.

Wade's teacher took this video at school yesterday, and I love it so much!  Watching him stand there, receiving attention with a confidence he didn't used to posses,  I am just so proud. {I told his teacher he was born at noon :) }

*I hope to be back tonight with a post up about selling on eBay!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Selling Your Stuff Series {Part 2/Selling on Craigslist}

I hold Craigslist very near and dear to my heart.  Name any room in my house and I can generally find at least one to two (larger) items that I have found via Craigslist.  And while it is a great place for buyers, it's also great for sellers!

Perhaps this is obvious--but I will state it anyway--Craigslist is best for unloading larger items (furniture, appliances, larger kid's items); things where it wouldn't make sense to package them up and mail to someone if you sold it to them on a site like eBay.  While you can sell smaller items on Craigslist, I typically think it works out better to go a different route with those sorts of things (more to come in a later post!)

With this in mind, here are my tips for making the most out of your Craigslist seller's account.

1. Spend some time cleaning up the item

{This really applies no matter which avenue you choose for selling things, but it needs to be stated nonetheless}.  The fact is not everyone can see the great potential whatever you are selling has, so you may need to help them out with that :)  If you've spent any time on Craigslist, you've likely seen pictures of real diamonds in the rough--and while this can be great when you're the buyer (think great pieces for cheap!), as a seller, you want to make your item shine so that you can maximize what someone is willing to pay you for it.  Clean old furniture, wipe down appliances, set up the kid's toy you're trying to sell.  Bonus points for accessorizing your item!  While you don't want to go over the top and make something look so personal that you turn off potential buyers, I think it pays to help your prospective buyers picture your piece in their home.  Think of it kind of like staging your home--it should look nice, but not overly personal.

I wish I had a 'before' picture, but imagine this table with a not-so-appealing dated wood finish.  I painted it myself (use leftover paint if you can to minimize your costs) and probably got twice the money I would have gotten if I had sold it unpainted.   I had fun styling the top to add some interest, but notice I didn't place personal items like picture frames on it.  

2.  Take quality pictures and upload them to an external site before you add them to your listing.

You've spent the time making your item look good; now you need a nice picture to prove it!  I'm no professional photographer, but I generally think pictures look the best when you have ample natural light and you don't use your camera's flash.

I also think it helps improve your listing if your pictures are large.  To achieve this, you need to upload your image to an external site (I use photobucket) first.  Once you do this, you simply copy and paste the HTML code into the 'description' section of your Craigslist post.  Once you add your pictures in this manner, you won't be adding them during the next step where Craigslist actually prompts you to add photos.  Clear as mud?

Once you advance beyond Craigslist's photo adding page, you should see your large image.
 3.  Describe the item using terms that are commonly searched.

Try to think like a buyer.  If you're selling a bookcase, throw in a couple extra keywords into your description to attract more potential buyers, such as "bookshelf" and "shelves."  If I'm selling something old, I'll use the word "vintage" in my title and/or description cause it's trendy and I know folks like that :)  Of course, you also want to be accurate in your description--don't say something is in excellent condition if it's clearly not.  

I was clear in my listing that the pillows weren't included in the sale of the futon, but I'd like to think they helped the picture stand out a bit :)

4. Price your item appropriately.

This is a really important part and here's why:  You have to decide how patient you want to be in getting your item sold.  In other words, if you just want your old couch out of the house, you need to know you're probably going to get less for it than if you're willing to wait until the right buyer comes along.  I recommend searching for similar items for sale on CL to give you an idea of how to price yours.  There is a fine line between pricing something unrealistically high (because you paid so much when you bought it new!  I know, I know) and practically giving it away (This happened to me once when I sold a rug for $20. I must have gotten 20 emails for this thing within the first day!). I typically kind of enjoy the process (weird, I know), so I'll generally price something on the high side and see if I get any bites.  If I don't get any inquiries within 5-7 days, I'll generally keep the same price, but repost my listing, which brings me to my next tip.

Ready for a fresh look in our entry,  I was happy to sell this rug for about the same price I paid for it off of eBay.

5.  Repost, Repost, Repost!

Obviously, this doesn't apply if you fall into the category of wanting to get rid of your stuff right away. But if you're really interested in getting the most you can out of something (or if you're just not getting any bites), you're probably going to need to repost your listing at least a couple times.  This is especially true if you've posted something in a really popular category.  Dozens of couches get posted for sale on Craigslist each day; your listing that went live on a Monday morning is easily near the bottom of a very long search list by Tuesday night.  You want your listing to be visible, so you need to ensure that it stays near the top of the search results.  Now, you don't want to become one of those annoying people who are constantly reposting the same ad, but I typically repost every few days for an item in a really common category.  All you need to do to repost and bring your listing back to the top is follow the steps as if you were going to delete your post.  Craigslist will give you one last chance to keep your post live by selecting 'repost.'  Make sense?

I remember reposting this baby many times.  I finally sold it for $50.  Not bad for an outdated tv :)

6.  Adjust your price as necessary.

Only you can decide when you're tired of reposting :)  For me, if I've reposted several times over the course of a couple weeks, and I haven't gotten any inquires I may drop my price by 10% or so.  See what happens.  Generally, this pattern has worked well for me, and I've been able to make some decent money off of things we no longer want.

A few notes on safety and Craigslist:

-There can be a fair amount of scamming on Craigslist.  In my experience this has not seemed to be dangerous so much as annoying.  If you get an email response to a listing and it seems vague at all, I suggest following up with a simple email and asking the sender to identify the item they are interested in.  Typically if they are a scammer, they won't reply.  Obviously, if you get an email from someone telling you they are going to wire you the money or some other nonsense, there is no need to even reply.
-Because of the prevalence of email scammers, some people will only provide a phone number in their listing.  I haven't found this to be necessary, but I thought I should mention it as an option.
-When arranging for someone to come and see an item you're selling, it's a good idea to set up a time when there is more than one adult at home. Of course, you can always agree to meet in a public place as well.

So, what did I miss?  Anybody else have any Craigslist selling tips to share with the rest of us?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Selling Your Stuff Series {Part 1}

Many who know me well can attest to the fact that I have a zest for selling things I no longer want or need.  The way I see it, couponing, for example, does for some folks what selling things here and there does for me.  I am not sure what it is--but I find it to be so exhilarating to identify and compile items I'm ready to part with.  I guess it just feels cleansing (and productive!) to send these things on their way, especially when I can expect to make a little cash in exchange for my efforts.
I loved these boots and was so sad to see them go!  Check back for the details of where I got them and how and why I sold them!

For whatever reason, my kids never played with this toy very much, so I sold it before we put our house on the market last year.  

Prior to moving to Illinois this past year for Philip's residency, we lived on a pretty modest budget thanks to a monthly stipend from the Air Force and some loans we took out for living expenses.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn early on that with a little bit of effort, I could actually sell nearly everything I came across that we didn't need anymore.  This of course came in handy when I needed to come up with the money to buy something new*.

A bit of household decor I was ready to pass on.

I'd had this book for years from when I did some Pilates training.  I was rather elated when I sold it for $25!
Over the past several years I've gained quite a bit of experience selling things in a variety of ways--eBay, Craigslist, consignment stores, even Amazon.  I'm by no means an expert, but as friends of mine have expressed that trying to sell their stuff feels overwhelming to them, I've realized that I actually really enjoy helping with this.   To that end, I'm going to make an effort at being a conscientious blogger and post each day this week my tips on the best approach for making money from your unwanted wares.  I hope you'll stop by and pass along any tips you may have as well!

An old wireless router we had lying around in our basement!  Who knew it could bring $20 bucks?

*Admittedly, my hobby of selling things so that I can buy new things can feed a tendency toward materialism, but that's perhaps a story for another day :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monogrammed Towels

{Warning:  This post includes a tragic "before" photo that takes the cake for the "blandest bathroom" award.  Please proceed with caution :) }

By some amazing twist of fate, my husband has agreed that we can use some of our Christmas money we received as a gift to purchase new master bathroom towels.  We've had the same towels since we got married nearly eight years ago, and the prospect of fresh new towels has me very excited!  Adding a personal monogram to new towels?  This just about sends me over the edge.  Of course, spending the extra money on monogramming means the details of this decision need to be carefully considered.  I thought it would be helpful to me if I tried to organize my ideas, so I thought I'd share them here.

Before we go any further, I suppose I should give you an idea of the sad space where the new towels will hang.  With the exception of the plastic bath toys and the sink miscellany, this is pretty much how things looked when we moved in.

I know.  I tried to warn you.

Moving on to prettier things, here are some lovely images of monogrammed towels {and some really great bathrooms} that may help settle your stomach after what you just saw :)

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

I think the styles I am inclined to use for my new towels are 1. the circular shape (as seen in the above photo), or 2. maybe this diamond style:

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

with this last style getting an honorable mention:

I am thinking of going with classic navy in the master bathroom and maybe I'll sneak in a couple hand towels for our half bath (thinking maybe hot pink?  trust me.  it's another bland situation that could use a splash of color.)

I'd been planning to pick up some white towels from TJMaxx (love) that I could then have monogrammed.  I may still do this, but as I was searching for inspiration, I came across this deal from Horchow:

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

The monogram is available in navy and a set, which includes two bath towels, two hand towels, and two washcloths is only $57.90.  And monogramming is included!  They are apparently Egyptian cotton, which I know is good, but this price makes me wonder if the quality could be that great?  There is nothing worse than a towel that doesn't actually dry you off.  Know what I mean?  I hate using a towel that merely rubs the water around!  (please tell me someone else knows what I'm talking about!)

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Chandelier

I fear you may be growing very tired of seeing these images of my dining room.  This would be understandable.  However, in the interest of encouraging others who may benefit from my experiences in making relatively simple and inexpensive changes, I'm going to tell you about our china cabinet and our chandelier.  Today, the chandy.

First, I would like to remind you of the situation when we first moved in.  I really wish I had taken a better shot that could give you the full effect of the offensive light fixture with which we were greeted when we moved in.  Key to its offensiveness was not necessarily its generic style (though this did not excite me), but the fact that it was hung completely off center in the room and the chain from which it was supposed to hang was literally all wrapped up and tangled so that it barely hung at all!  It wanted to be a chandelier but it was being treated like a flush-mount :)  Truly I tell you, an assault against beauty.

I knew I would need to do something to replace this sucker, and of course I wanted to minimize my costs.  {However, light fixtures are things you can take with you when you move, so if money allows I say go for something nice that speaks to you, even if you're a renter!} As is the case with most of my little projects, I simply copy other people's ideas :)  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?

All that to say, my chandelier is the Maskros from Ikea, but it started out looking quite different from the way it does now!

I first read on Jenny's blog about how she cut down the little flowers (they're made of paper!) and painted the whole thing.  Countless others have also done this and many have put their own personal touch on theirs.  The only difference between what I did and what Jenny did is I spray painted mine (with Rustoleum's Metallic Antique Brass), I didn't cut my flowers down quite as much as she did, and I didn't glue the little clear cups on the flowers.  Once I'd gotten everything sprayed, I convinced Philip that we needed to anchor a little hook in the ceiling so that forthelove, the fixture could hang above the center of our table.  Amen and Amen.

For 40 bucks (it was on sale when I bought it) plus the cost of some spray paint, I am more than pleased with this guy.  I love the scale of it, and I really like how the modern style acts as a nice counterpoint to my traditional furniture.

I looked around and found a few more images of Ikea's Maskros for your viewing and inspiration pleasure.

Such a fun, whimsical touch in a nursery!

This looks amazing (and hard to do?).


A fun hack with an ombre effect!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Incorporating a Bit of {Faux} Fur

A couple people have asked about what's on the back of my dining room bench.  It's simply a faux fur throw rug that I picked up at Target on clearance for 20 bucks.  I grabbed it knowing I liked it, but not sure of where it would go.  Once I got home, something about the lines of the table and the bench, combined with the wood made me think this little friend might be right at home there.  I really like how it softens and warms up the space and brings in another texture.

I don't see mine on Target's website (it was a while ago that I saw it in the store), but good old Ikea sells a similar product.

Ikea's Faux Sheepskin

I guess I've jumped on this faux fur bandwagon because I've also thrown some into the mix on my sofa.

I posted a pic of some pillows on Instagram (I'm @abworthington) and some folks asked about them, so I thought I'd share my sources here as well.  The cream pillows with the jute trim are from Ross, as is the blue geometric pillow (a David Hicks La Fiorentina knock off :)  and the ikat pillow (yes, I moved it from the dining room and decided I like it better here :) I made from fabric purchased several years ago.  You can buy it by the yard here.  
I actually found the throw at Target too (this is funny to me because I don't generally tend to buy a lot from Target's home section).  It's part of their Threshold line, which has really impressed me. (unfortunately I can't find it on their website either, I think it was part of their "holiday line" :(  I personally think the trick to incorporating inexpensive pieces from mass chain stores is to use them in small doses together with unique and/or vintage pieces that you can't find in five stores in one city :)

Faux fur throws are everywhere, but I've yet to see another one that I like for even close to 30 bucks.  I would tell you if I thought this one was cheap and underwhelming, but I do not.  I love it and it is SO WARM and get this--it's machine washable!

They say fashion and design mimic each other right?  Well, look what I found (for $20!) at TJ Maxx last week!

Let's just say I was giddy.

Anyone else into the fur trend?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Pretty Tables

I shared the story of my own kitchen table, so I thought I would post some images of beautiful old tables and the rooms where they live that inspire me.  As I looked through these images, I realized that most of these spaces show a long, rustic table being used in the actual kitchen space, as opposed to a separate dining room.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been so quick to slam my own 'eat-in-kitchen' :)

I love this neutral space.  Who would have thought to use basic metal shelving units in the kitchen with your pretty glassware but it totally works.  The mix of wood, white, and chrome feels simple yet polished.  
Source: via Anne on Pinterest

This kitchen has long been a favorite of mine.  Black herringbone floors, black lower cabinets and black doors give this space a coziness I adore. And that lantern is such a nice touch.

Again, loving the mix of wood with darker cabinets and splashes of white.  And how fun is that floor?!

Here, the addition of the rustic table brings a warmth to a cooler space that feels more modern to me.

You can't go wrong with classic Windsor chairs and an old wooden table.  I need a fireplace in my kitchen and a sweet little cat for cuddling.

Pairing the table with white painted chairs and white walls keep this room feeling fresh and clean.  

As I've said before, I think scouring Craigslist, along with local consignment/antique/thrift stores is your best bet for finding an older table with character.  The downside is of course the fact that you could end up waiting a while before you find the right piece.  But in my opinion, that's part of the thrill of the hunt! You know what they say about Rome!  :)  I read a blog post a while back by the talented Kelly Robson of High Street Market, where she quoted designer Betsy Burnham.  Apparently, Betsy would ask her clients if they wanted the design to be "good, fast, or cheap?  Pick two because you can't have all three at once."  I think this is so true!

If you find yourself in the camp of wanting something fast and nice, here are a few tables I love.

Restoration Hardware, on sale even!  but let's not kid ourselves, still not too cheap.  

Pretty turned legs at Pottery Barn

a good price for a new table, at Crate and Barrel

West Elm

I really like the gray wash on this one, also from Crate and Barrel

Gray wash again with parson's legs.  Though not quite as long, it reminds me a lot of the first one from Restoration Hardware, but $400 cheaper.