Friday, February 16, 2007

Viviene is going all out for Viva Las Vegas! Make an offer (or as we say in the UK "Have a haggle!"). Check out the great things available now!




Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day to you all. This date brings back wonderful memories of my parents. I don't know when the tradition started but my Dad would come home from work each Valentine's Day with small heart shaped boxes of candy for my sister and I. My Mom would get a 1 pound box of chocolates in a gorgeous heart shaped box as well. Growing up it never occurred to me that something so every day and ordinary would melt my heart years later. It's not that I didn't appreciate the gift or the thought but when you're young you just don't understand what's happening behind the scenes in the adult world. You're insulated in your own little world of going to school, playing with your friends and tolerating your siblings.

Flash forward to years later. My father has passed away almost two years prior. My mom is dying and we are talking as one does when you know time is short. I brought up the annual Valentines Day candy gift. My Mom divulges how hard it was for my Dad and her to afford to get those boxes of candy. Mom was a full time homemaker at the time and Dad was going to night school to get his degree in Chemistry. Money was really tight, so tight in fact that Mom said Dad might have $2 left out of his paycheck each week to put gas in our station wagon to get back and forth to work. So I asked Mom how they managed to pay for that candy. She said that Dad would brown bag his lunch for a month and she would cut down the grocery bills as much as she could so he could get the candy for us.

Of course this was a revelation for me. The four of us (myself, my sister and my two brothers) always had what we needed, plenty to eat, nice clothes to wear and a really great place to live. We were surrounded by friends and tons of family. It never occurred to me how hard it must have been raising 4 kids on one salary and of course my Dad going to night school for his degree. Pretty daunting if you ask me.

But my parents met the challenges head on and no matter what fate threw in their way they marched forward together facing those challenges. Those challenges did not get easier as time went on. Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1998 and Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 1999. Dad passed away in August of 2001 and Mom in July of 2003.

Very early this morning my husband arrived home from his job. He works the evening shift. This allows me to be home with our daughters and run my home based business. My business is new and doesn't bring a lot in right now but I love what I'm doing and that I'm here for our girls. Sometimes after paying the bills my husband has $20 left for the week to buy gas to get back and forth to work. He brown bags his lunch most of the time. As he walked in the door at 2:30 a.m. this morning I saw he carried a plastic bag. I asked him what was in it and he pulled out two small red candy heart boxes of chocolates for our girls. There was also a 1 pound box of beautifully boxed chocolates for me. I knew he had no money to buy the candy and asked him how he did it. He said he saved his lunch money for a week because he wanted to give his sweethearts something nice on Valentines Day.

So we've come full circle now. Whereas once I was the little girl receiving the small heart shaped box of chocolates, I have now become the mother receiving the 1 pound box of chocolates. I'm hoping and praying that my girls meet men who will continue the tradition that has now spanned two generations in my family. Men who give without thought of what they are giving up. Men who love them to pieces and will cherish them. For that is the greatest gift of all.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Today our Specialist Auctions interview is with Marge, co-moderator of the Vintage and antique clothing section at Specialist Auctions and owner of Born Too Late Vintage.

Viviene: How did you first become involved in vintage clothing?

Marge: I was surfing around the discussion boards on Ebay and found the Vintage Clothing and Accessory Board. I started lurking on the board and soaking up knowledge from all the seasoned sellers there.

Viviene: How long after that did you actually buy your first piece of vintage clothing?

Marge: I kept lurking and reading and learning for a year or so. Then I found a great dress and coat set from the 1960s in beautiful condition. I still have that set and I'm actually getting ready to list it right now. That's when I actually came out of lurker mode and posted on the board the first time.

Viviene: So in total how long have you been admiring vintage attire and how long have you been selling it?

Marge: I've been admiring it and learning about it for the last 4 years and selling it for almost 3 years now. There is always more to learn and people are very willing to help you out.

Viviene: When you buy a piece of vintage clothing what do you do to prepare it for sale?

Marge: Well, the first thing I do when I'm choosing stock is make sure it is in excellent condition. Or if a piece speaks to me I have to make sure that I can repair it so that it's restored to its once wonderful condition. Then I research the style to make sure of what era the piece is from. If the item has a label with some type of name on it then I check the Vintage Fashion Guild label resource to see if I can match labels and again verify an era. I also look at the construction of the item, i.e. metal zipper, nylon zipper, fabric content, pinked seams, etc. There are lots of different indicators of what era a piece is from.

Viviene: Once you've done all that what is your next step?

Marge: Then I clean the item, steam or iron the item and then the next step is taking pictures to present the item to my customers. I definitely take a lot of pictures to show all the different specifics of an item such as pocket details, type of zipper, linings, pinked seams and any other specifics that I think are selling points for each particular piece. Then once my photos are taken and edited I measure the items. Measurements are so important in vintage items because size tags are not good indicators as sizes have changed so very much. Women of today don't wear support garments like those made years and years ago. That definitely alters the way a vintage clothing item is going to fit.

Viviene: So once your item is chosen, cleaned, pressed, pictures taken and measurements taken I take it your next step is to list it.

Marge: That's right. That's my favorite part of selling vintage. I love writing descriptions of the vintage clothing I'm selling. If I have a designer label I include the history of the designer at the end of my description. I like to think that people who are new to vintage would value learning about the designer of the item they are looking at. I took my lead from experienced sellers who took the time to educate me by telling me about the designer of their item. I've learned a lot just by reading that information.

Viviene: You mentioned the label resource of the Vintage Fashion Guild. How important has that resource been to you as a seller?

Marge: It's been the base that I've used to learn about different designers, construction details and so much more. The Vintage Fashion Guild has afforded me an education in vintage clothing and accessories that I would not have found anywhere else other than that I picked up from the Ebay Vintage clothing and accessory board. I became a member of the VFG in July of 2006 and I am a very proud member of this esteemed group of vintage sellers and collectors. I appreciate the knowledge of the members there so very much. They have all been very welcoming and very helpful.

Viviene: How did you choose your store name "Born Too Late Vintage?"

Marge: Well, my husband and I have both said that we were born at the wrong time in history. We both love the 1950s and 1960s and have always felt we were born too late so that's where the name came from.

Viviene: What lead you to become a co-moderator of the vintage and antique clothing section at Specialist Auctions?

Marge: Well things have been changing at Ebay over time and unfortunately those things are out of the control of the sellers at large. I grew tired of having my vintage clothing competing with reproductions that were listed in the vintage categories when there is a reproduction category provided. I'm not against reproductions, but rather want them to be presented as such in their appropriate category. So I decided to give another venue a try. I did that for six months but wanted to take my business in a different direction than that venue offered so a friend, Margaret Bolger, who owns Artizania Vintage, asked me to come over the Specialist Auctions as the co-moderator of the vintage and antique section and I accepted.

Viviene: How is Specialist Auctions different from what you've dealt with at Ebay?

Marge: Well for one thing, there are moderators for each section. One of the responsibilities of the moderator is to police their section to make sure that what is offered is authentic. If we see an item that is a reproduction for example, we will contact the seller and have them move their item where it belongs.

Another thing that the moderators are doing in the vintage and antique clothing section is promoting the sellers of their category.

We have a myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/specialistauctionsvintage where we preview items in our sellers stores and listings. Each month we have a theme and present the items that are listed that pertain to that theme. Every seller we have has a different way of presenting their items. It's refreshing to see so many different ideas. We welcome anyone who would like to come over to the site and list items or even open a store if they wish.

I also have a blog called http://alwaysplayingdressup.blogspot.com/. I have been featuring interviews of different sellers at Specialist Auctions. This allows our potential customers and return customers to get to know the sellers better. It's also been very interesting for me to learn more about the sellers as well.

Viviene: What is another difference between Ebay and Specialist Auctions?

Marge: Well, a big difference is the fee schedule. Your listings on Ebay are charged for as are your store fees. Whether you sell an item or not you incur fees.

At Specialist Auctions, there are no listing fees or store fees. There is a flat rate valuation fee of 3% regardless of what your item sells for and that fee is only charged once you actually sell something. So if you have a store and list say 100 items and sell nothing you have no fees to pay.

Viviene: I understand you also have a contemporary store as well called Mirror Image Boutique.

Marge: Yes I do. I decided to branch out a bit and sell excellent quality modern clothing as well. Both my stores are located at Specialist Auctions and I also have my own website at http://www.borntoolatevintage.com and http://www.mirrorimageboutique.com.

Viviene: So come check out Marge's stores "Born Too Late Vintage" and "Mirror Image Boutique" at Specialist Auctions:

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.