Boot Sale Booty – a successful Sunday

Boot sale booty

Boot sale booty

Sunday’s boot sale booty

I had a great weekend. The mad weather desisted and remembered it was summer, which helped. We spent a lovely day at Wrabfest on Saturday with two of my three daughters.  On Sunday we dragged ourselves out of bed at 5 am to help my other daughter do a bootsale. She had quite a bit to sell and I also got some great boot sale booty to resell!

I didn’t mind the early start, as once I had helped her set up I could get round quite a lot of stalls to see what was on offer. I didn’t get any boot sale booty for myself but I found a whole load of clothes to list on eBay.

One of my bargains was an absolutely gorgeous long silk Monsoon evening dress that I would have kept for myself if I ever needed a posh frock! I found lots of good high street names, brand new with tags,, some as-new Skechers trainers and a beautiful dress from Coast. Most cost me £1 or £2. The Monsoon one was £4.

I don’t know why people don’t sell such items themselves for more money on eBay, but they have the choice. I don’t feel bad for making a little profit and supplementing my bank balance this way.

I continue to find this a useful source of extra income, although July was quieter than previous months. I think that is a summer thing and hopefully it will start to pick up as we move into autumn.

Wrabfest

This little festival in Wrabness was a lot of fun. Here was some great music from talented bands – no one famous but excellent all the same. There were activities for the kids, lovely foodstalls, all kinds of retailers and a bar. This got very busy in the evening. If they run it again I hope they have a second  bar and more loos!

It is run completely by volunteers from the village and was a very impressive community event.  I think it must be lovely to live in a place where there is lots going on and a real community vibe.

SHOMOs – still after your votes

I have mentioned before that I have been nominated for the SHOMOs UK Money Bloggers Awards next month. I am really excited to go and meet lots of other bloggers. My nomination is for the frugal and thrift category. You can’t vote for me in that as it is judged, but you can vote in the People’s Choice awards. If you are interested, go to this page on the UK Money Bloggers website. I will be hugely grateful to get a few votes at least.

How was your weekend? Anybody else been hunting for some boot sale bounty?

 

Follow me on Twitter: @shoestringjane and on Instagram: @shoestringcottage. My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/shoestringjane.

How to make money on eBay

I have mentioned before that I make extra money selling on eBay – mainly clothing, but anything that comes my way that might make a few pounds as well. In addition to selling our old unwanted stuff, I actively buy in order to sell on. It is quite a bit of work, but can be a nice little earner. Here is what I have learned.

People will pay a lot for secondhand designer items

Certain brand names sell well and, as long as they are in good condition, they can command a very good price. Brands such as Karen Millen, Phase Eight, MonsoonLipsy and Jane Norman all sell well.

Give a good description

You need to provide a detailed description of the item you are selling, but be honest. If there is a small stain on the hem or a pull to the fabric say so and provide photos. This will avoid battles with disgruntled customers if the item isn’t as they were expecting.

Take some good pics

A decent photo really does speak louder than a thousand words. People cannot try items on or feel the fabric so will be reassured to see several good shots from various angles. If you are going to sell clothes on a regular basis it is worth investing in a hanging dummy. I bought mine from eBay for around £8 (some examples are here. Dress them as they do in the window displays in the shops. Make dresses ‘fit’ with a few pins and add some jewellery.

Grab attention with the heading

Your title is also important. Think about what key words people might use to search for particular items. Make sure they are spelt correctly too! Include the brand, colour, style, size and if it is new, say so. I bought a Karen Millen dress from eBay for £4.50 – it didn’t sell because the photo was dreadful and the heading was ‘Lovely Dress’. Nobody was able to identify it as a gorgeous designer dress so mine was the only bid. I later sold it on for £25.

Research prices

It is worth looking at how much similar items sell for to try to establish a good price for whatever you are selling. If you’re not in a hurry you will get more for an item if you sell it at a fixed price – I tend to do this with higher end designer clothing. If you want to sell it quickly go for an auction,  I tend to choose this option for items that are worth less than a tenner. Sometimes the prices you get still take you by surprise!

Set reasonable postage prices

Don’t be greedy with postage – customers aren’t stupid and will be put off bidding if you are charging £10 P&P for an object that will only cost £3 to send. I usually weigh the item and check the Royal Mail price finder to get guidance on costs, then add a little extra for packaging. For heavier or bulky items it is worth checking out Collect Plus as it is often cheaper. I would recommend sending using recorded delivery if the item is expensive. Even if you send by standard post, always get proof of postage in case the parcel goes missing, as you can refund your customer and get a refund from the Royal Mail to keep everyone happy.

Pack well

Take a bit of time to pack items carefully. Make sure you use lots of bubble wrap and a decent box if you are posting anything breakable. When selling women’s clothing I wrap it in coloured tissue paper and pop it in a matching plastic envelope. Again, I buy these from eBay as I have found this to be the cheapest place for packaging materials.

Include a little message thanking the customer for their purchase. Ask them to leave you positive feedback if they are happy with the item or to contact you before leaving negative feedback if not so that you can try to resolve any issues. If you are selling regularly, it is worth getting business cards printed with this message. I got mine quite cheaply from VistaPrint, but there are lots of companies offering good deals on these.

The power of feedback

If a customer is not happy with the item for any reason, don’t argue. If you want to make money selling you need good feedback and it’s not worth risking that by quibbling over a return. In addition, if you buy on eBay be sure to leave reasonable feedback for the seller. I would never leave bad feedback unless the seller was obnoxious or unreasonable in some way and I hope buyers are the same (they aren’t always, but I have only had one customer leave me bad feedback – completely unfairly!).

Good timing

If you are selling by auction think about your timing and schedule your posts to end at peak periods. For example, it is better to time your auction to end on a Sunday at 8pm when people have time to browse rather than on a Monday at 10 am when they are all at work! eBay has a scheduling feature for this purpose.

Sell overseas

Don’t be afraid to sell abroad. I have seen so many adverts stating that sellers will only post within the UK. Why? If you are going to the Post Office anyway it is no more complicated to post abroad. You can use the Royal Mail Price Finder for this too!

Buying to sell on

I felt a bit like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses when I first started doing this, but I soon got over my discomfort when I realised that eBay could seriously help my budget. It is only what antique and collectible dealers have been doing for ever – buying and selling and taking a cut where they can!

Whilst you are feeling your way selling on eBay, I recommend you don’t spend too much on buying stock. Boot sales are brilliant places to find bargain items to sell on. You often see brand new items with the tags still on for just a few pounds. I got a gorgeous new Monsoon dress in pristine condition with the tags in place for £1!! I would have happily paid five or even ten pounds for it. I later sold it on for £30.

As mentioned previously, I have purchased items cheaply on eBay itself because I knew I could present them better and sell them on for more. This can be a risk; if you are buying from sellers who aren’t savvy enough to do a good presentation they may also be vague about the condition of the item. I bought a dress for £6, another Karen Millen number, which was absolutely filthy when it arrived. Dry cleaning is expensive so I risked the fabric on a delicate wash and it came up as good as new, but it might just as easily have ended up in the charity bag.

Charity shops often know the value of high end brand names so aren’t always good places to find good stuff to sell on. Occasionally you will find some great stock though. I went into a hospice shop and they were selling all their dresses off for £4 each. I filled up three carrier bags! I know that some people feel uncomfortable making a profit from charity shops, but I don’t. I buy so much from them I think I support their causes, and sometimes they need to move their stock on to make room for the next lot.

It is also possible to get some superb bargains at the end of the sales in regular stores and sell them on at profit. Mr S’s sister does this regularly. She has a great eye for the styles that will still be in demand when they are no longer available in store, and has found that sometimes people are prepared to pay more than the original retail price.

I know others that have found objects on Freecycle and sold them on. This is where I draw the line. It goes against the whole ethos of giving something for free to stop it going to landfill in my view and means the sites can be awash with greedy dealers.

So, that is my experience of selling on eBay in a nutshell, which I hope you will find helpful. I am sure I still have much to learn, so please feel free to add your helpful hints and tips!

 

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Designer labels? Only if they are in the charity shop

We have had a lovely last morning in Wales going round the RSPB Dyfi Osprey project just outside Machynlleth. There were cameras trained on the osprey chicks as they were fed sea bass by their parents. They are six weeks old now and will be flying soon. You can see them on camera at http://www.dyfiospreyproject.com


We also saw a few common lizards looking for some sunshine as we walked along the boardwalks over the wetland areas and lots of tiny finches. There was even what looked like a red squirrel, although one of the staff said it was a young grey. It looks red to me!

Next stop was the charity shop in Machynlleth where I picked up some real bargains, including a Karen Millen top with the label on (saying £99) for £4! Who spends that much on a top and then doesn’t bother to wear it? Someone with more money than sense I guess. I also bought two Phase Eight dresses, a Monsoon skirt, an M&S sequinned dress and navy work skirt and a lovely wool blanket. Everything bar the Karen Millen top cost £2 each. If anything doesn’t fit or I don’t like it I will put it on eBay and make a profit. I don’t feel bad if I do this – a girl has got to make ends meet and I do give the charity shops a lot of my spare cash.

We will have a meander this evening and get the car packed and head back to England tomorrow. I could stay here forever! We will be back 😀.

Happy Easter and welcome to the new Shoestring Cottage site!

Shoestring CottageI have moved Shoestring Cottage  over to what I am told is a more flexible version of WordPress. At the moment it is a work in progress so the appearance might change every now and again as I experiment. Truth be told, I am not a techie and it is all Greek to me! Save my new site to your favourites 😀.

Shoestring Cottage

Boot sale bargains

Boot sale bargains

I dragged Mr S up early and out to the boot sale this morning. It was freezing, but the sun eventually came out and it was nice when we managed to get out of the wind. The first boot sale was disappointing with very few traders. I found a couple of items but we decided to move on fairly quickly. The second sale was much better – still fairly small scale but it is the start of the season.

Shoestring Cottage

More bargains!

I found a nice pair of yoga pants, a warm hooded jumper, some brand new wooly tights and a very pretty lacey cornflower blue jumper from next. I also picked up some lovely dresses to sell on eBay.
Shoestring Cottage

Bargains for the Shoestring Cottage garden

Boot sales are great for plants too. I bought some primroses – you can’t go wrong at 50p a pot. I would have got some fruit and veg too as it was excellent value but we already have plenty. No point in buying bargains if they go to waste.

We arrived home just as the rain came down, thank goodness. We did have some fine weather on Good Friday and we managed to do some work on the garden, hitting the weeds before they got established! I will plant a few more seeds next weekend.

We are off to my mum and dad’s to have Sunday lunch cooked for us now. It’s so lovely to have a four day weekend. I could do with that every week – how productive I would be!

Have a lovely Easter Sunday whatever you are doing and whatever the weather.

The thrift style challenge

Once again I looked at my outfit today and smiled when I worked out how much it cost. Long black M&S skirt, secondhand on eBay for £3; indigo blue Tu cardigan, 99p in the charity shop, long sleeved crossover Monsoon top, £2.95 in the charity shop.  Total cost: £6.94. My shoes were new: £8 from New Look.  Yesterday I had on a pair of jeans, £1 from the boot sale; plain black top, 99p charity shop; long turquoise M&S cardigan, £2 boot sale; leather boots, a cast off from my daughter. Total cost: £3.99. Some people pay more than that on a pair of pants!

 

Some recent bargains, total cost £5.50!

 I am not suggesting I am any kind of style queen, but I manage to look quite respectable most of the time. I rarely wear anything new these days – usually it is just my footwear and undies. Once you realise what you can get for a few pounds you resent paying lots of money for anything! This is why being thrifty becomes a kind of hobby after a while. It is incredibly satisfying.

It seems I am not alone in my thrift obsession. Instagram is awash with frugal fashionistas displaying their quirky and stylish secondhand bargains: check out thrify_meg, michellerosborough and hellathrifty for starters, but there are loads more.

If I ever come into money I am quite sure I will go on a wild spree and buy as many beautiful new clothes as I want. Until then I am happy with my frugal bargain wardrobe. 

How much did you spend on today’s outfit? 

It’s a question of attitude…

I had a conversation via Facebook with an old acquaintance last week. She has six children and has recently split up with her husband. Not surprisingly, money is now quite tight! She is putting on a bit of weight due to a medical condition too, and was worrying about having to find the money to buy new clothes. I told her that I bought a lot of my clothes on eBay secondhand. I could tell she was quietly appalled at the prospect of wearing other people’s cast offs! I wasn’t offended. A lot of people feel the same I’m sure.

Some of my recent finds

 IMG_6446

 Looking in my wardrobe, it’s tricky to find much that was purchased new, apart from shoes (I have wide feet and need comfort!), underwear and a few basic vests and tops from Primark.

I don’t feel hard done by though. I love  a bargain! I have found so many beautiful and excellent quality items in charity shops, at boot sales and online.  I own plenty of xcellent brands like Monsoon, Per Una, Laura Ashley and even Phase Eight. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to  buy these from new. I can’t believe what some folk buy and then discard – more money than sense!

My friend sees buying secondhand as a failure, I see it as  victory. It’s all question of attitude!