Sunday, December 23, 2012

eBay's Video Game Nature

Winter is here, so it is time to sell on eBay.  It's also time to be reminded that not all eBay shoppers are the same or want the same experience. We've often talked about how some people treat eBay auctions like a video game, placing each bid individually instead of using proxy bidding, constantly refreshing the screen to see the latest results, racing against the clock and against the other bidders as the auction nears its end. Along with the race comes the risk of not getting the item. For these buyers, the gambling is part of the fun, though robot bidders called snipers have ruined the fun for many. 

Others just want to find the thing they're looking for and buy it immediately.  This is what we want when we buy on the internet, so this year we have made a change in how we sell on eBay. We set a "Buy It Now" price on almost all of our items. If they want it, they can get it right away, no waiting.

Recently, though, we have stumbled across a new type of eBay video game, and a new type of eBay customer.  We added a "Make Offer" button to a few listings, and immediately noticed a pattern. As a seller, you can set it up so that eBay automatically accepts offers within a certain range and rejects lower offers. But everything we added a "Make Offer" button to was sold at the lowest price in our acceptable range.  There was no offer in the middle of the range, only at the very bottom.  Apparently by adding the "Make Offer" button we attracted a new type of gamer. This person has fun by finding "Make Offer" items and trying to figure out what the lowest acceptable price is.  They make low offers that get automatically rejected, then they gradually raise their offer price until they hit the bottom of your range.  In person, at a show, that type of behavior would just piss off the seller and end with a confrontation. Fortunately, eBay has thought about this potential problem and limits the customer to three offers per item, cutting short this particular shoot-em-up video game.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Farm Pulley

Here is an antique cast iron pulley with nice embossed lettering on one side. It is marked Whitcomb's Hay Elevator Pulley Patd Feb 2 1864 Oak Hill Mfg Co Oak Hill NY.   This is an attractive, decorative, affordable, authentic antique. (Haven't you been saying you wanted that?)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coal Chute Top

Speaking of change, here is a scroll saw table with a top that used to be part of a coal chute. Former power tool base, meet previous pipeline to power.

All Things Adjustable

People were shocked when we gave up our desk jobs and changed our lives so completely. To us, the desire to change our lives seemed so natural that it was not really a change, it was just part of our long term plan. Of course, our plan was more  "and then do something completely different." The detail about selling antiques came later.  Apparently, when faced with "what would I do if only I could make a change..," others would not choose to buy used things and try to sell them.  Go figure. 

People don't always like change, but furniture doesn't even consider it.  Most furniture is not adjustable, and wasn't designed to be. Here is a wonderful industrial sewing machine desk that grows as you grow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mud Boots

I mentioned mud boots a few posts ago, and then found some.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Skinny and Folds

Remember when I wrote about the Brooklyn Flea and preferences for apartment furniture?  Well, this desk is skinny and it folds.  Plus when it is unfolded it is stable and sturdy. Very cool.  More photos at

Sights, Smells, Sounds, and Mud of Spring

Spring is coming, and lately I can see, hear, and smell it.  Pretty soon it will be time for the mud boots. There was a farm equipment and tractor auction today, so maybe I should already be wearing them.  The equipment auctions are a regular spring thing in our area of Pennsylvania, though usually they don't get started until the official first day of Spring. For the reason, see the mud comment above. 

We saw that some robins came out of the woods this week. The bluebirds have been hanging around all winter, though, so the robins seem a bit wimpy. We also heard spring peepers the other night.  Were they around in the suburbs when I was a kid? I didn't notice them until I went to the mountains with Keith, but maybe I wasn't paying attention. I don't think the tractors drove by pulling the manure spreader, either, or the dump trucks with loads of mushroom soil.

We did have crocus, though, followed by the daffodils.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stacking Suitcases

Here is a small suitcase to add to your stack.  Don't have a stack of old suitcases yet?  Then get started.  Old suitcases look great, hold things, and are easy to move around the house. You can store them on their side or standing up. There are lots of them, so they are usually still affordable.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Made in 1961

The other day I went to an auction and came home with this great little red bench.  I liked the color, the shape of the legs, and the fact that the legs were metal, not wood.  So someone had saved them from something else, probably a circa 1930 kitchen appliance; an ice box, one of those new fangled electric ones, or a range - "Now your cooking with gas!"  I like home made, make-do, one of a kind pieces, and when I turned this one over, it had this important message written on the bottom - "MADE JUNE 15, 1961."   The man who made it might forget exactly when he did it.  Who made it? that goes without saying.  Where? that goes without saying too.  By 1961, someone was ready for a new kitchen appliance, and someone else was not quite ready to let go of the old one.  And that guy, whoever he was, made this great little bench.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Skinny Desk

Did you live in an apartment as a kid?  We didn't. We each lived in 2 story 1960s suburban colonial houses, not huge like some things you find today, but large enough not to worry about the precise size of the furniture.  So our experiences selling to the happy crowds at the Brooklyn Flea were eye opening.   Before we went to Brooklyn, a nice vintage furniture dealer told us that skinny desks were always of interest. We nodded but didn't really get it. Now we do, or at least we're better at it. It's like the food rules.  Space is tight. Buy furniture, but keep it narrow or tall. Mostly folding.
Apologies to Mr. Pollan. More photos at

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vintage Dress Form with Cast Iron Base

This is an old adjustable dress form.   An antique dealer we once knew used a dress form like this to display scarves, stick pins, and brooches. The entire form was completely covered with old bling. Very nice. When lowered it is 38 inches tall, so can be used for a tabletop display, too.  The fabric covering is worn and has been tacked to the body in spots, though your jewelry collection won't mind a bit. Price: $95. Local pickup or chance meeting. There are more photos at

Summer shows and Winter web

Now comes one of the parts of this job I love:  changing with the seasons.  In the spring, when it is almost time to go out to the markets and set up at the shows, I am anxious for it.  What could be better than to be in a huge community of tents, full of familiar vendors, interesting items, and happy customers sharing chit chat about the weather, the price of gas, and whether this year will be as good as the last?  There is no time when I am happier to be out of the cubicle, away from the computer, and off mixing with the wonderful, diverse mix of people that make up America.  This is an amazing country and there is no better way to experience it than at a country fair, or, in my case, a huge outdoor antique show or flea market.  Let's face it: at a wonderful, huge show like Brimfield, we clamp our tents closed at night and no one messes with them. Amazing.  Fortunately, we spend the winter in a place similarly wonderful.  People in our area go into the convenience store in the morning and leave their cars unlocked and running outside. It warms the heart as well as the globe.  Are they misguided? Having grown up in a more guarded place, I am amazed but soothed by this ability to trust that everyone's mother taught them decency and civility.