Friday, December 2, 2011


Heinz Baked Beans Advertisement 
Woman's Home Companion
August, 1908
(These and subsequent images are Hawaiian Odysseus photos.)

103 years ago, the people who labored long hours to bring a certain edition of Woman's Home Companion together in time to make the publication deadline had no idea how their creation would help a certain backpacking Hawaiian wayfarer earn an honest income over a century later. 

With the magic that only science and technology can concoct, sprinkled with supernatural blessings from the Author of all good things, here I am-- smack dab in the ethereal Internet cloud--resurrecting, if  you will, yellowing pieces of paper and selling them on the eBay juggernaut.

And, wow!  Am I ever enjoying it!

For those of you who've been following Hawaiian Odysseus, you're aware of the journey...and all the changes along the way.  Thanks again for loyally being a part of this trek through life.  

For newbies to this spirited blog, HELE MAI!  Welcome!  You've hopped on this oft-derailed train at an exciting time.

Why?  Well, because I'm exuberant that-- 
  • I have no idea where it's going!
  • I'm excited about the possibilities!
  • It's kinda scary, and...well...I've always been a sucker for scary movies!
Guess you could say I'm an adrenaline junkie.  Which aptly goes hand in hand with my OCD fascination with coffee shops.  Caffeine only enhances its partner in crime.

On the threshold of senior the autumn of my life...I am the proverbial Huckleberry Finn, setting out on a raft (crafted from bamboo and koa...just had to give a shout out to my Asian/Pacific Islander ethnic groups!) and traveling to who knows where?

What is this guy talking about?  Doesn't he have family and financial obligations?  What must his wife think about  him?  Is he just a loser rationalizing his imaginary successes?  Is he a nut case?

Actually, dear friends, the way I envision it, it's like being Clark Kent and Superman.  So, okay, nut case would be the closest fit.  : )

The primary identity is that of a guy who got very tired about a year ago of working an unrewarding job as a bagel baker on a graveyard shift and who intensely hungered for a freedom so very few in American society have.  In the present, Clark works obsessively--sometimes 12 hours a day--to get his eBay business to the next level.  The work ethic is disciplined and very grounded.

And then there's the alter ego--the Superman identity called Hawaiian Odysseus--whose mission in life is to be a blessing to his community, be it locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally.

I'm all about being a champion of the underdog...and, sadly, the underdog of today is the average middle class individual who grew up in a home espousing the American Dream only to find himself/herself stuck in the current economic hell of waning incomes, increasing taxes, foreclosures or the threats thereof, and never knowing with any certainty when the ax will fall in our paycheck to paycheck existence.

So, for the next year or so, my Clark goal is to build my internet business while Superman champions the cause of the quickly disappearing middle class man by way of this blog.  Simply put, for the time being, I will be posting a lot about how I'm developing my eBay store--LORDS OF THE FLY--taking it to newer, higher, and more challenging levels until I attain the ever-elusive financial freedom.

Or not...

And therein lies the paradox of risk.  

Risk is life's pair of dice.  You win or you lose by the same toss of those dice.  What makes the difference, I've discovered, is one's attitude towards risk.  If we run from it, always playing it safe, it's almost as if we'd never lived at all.  If we embrace it, respect it, tolerate it, and harness its awesome power, we liberate our God-given imagination, creativity, and talents.  And then, dear friend, our universe knows no limits.

The real question is:  What involves more risk?  To continue, in this Great Recession, to struggle from paycheck to paycheck  working for someone or something else?


To think outside the box and embrace risk.

Sometimes, the greatest first step in shedding the inhibiting fear  is to walk right into it.

Now, I can just imagine my Christian friends wagging their puritanical fingers at me and, with furrowed brows, expressing disdain over what might sound like New Age hocus pocus.

My response?  Tell that to a hundred thousand Israelites walking on the Red Sea mud, clay, and sand, hurrying with great trepidation and anxiety to get to the other side, extremely concerned about the possibility of the towering and massive walls of water on both their left and their right swallowing them up.  Certainly, on that fateful day thirty-three hundred years ago, they knew RISK intimately.

They shed their inhibiting fear by walking smack dab into that tumultuous and turbulent sea.

And the rest is history.

What is this guy talking about?  Isn't he just rambling?  I'm not sure I'm following him.  Who does he think he is?  Clark Kent?  Superman?  What in the world is he talking about?

About these asides...on Thanksgiving evening, over at my sister-in-law's home in Stanwood, Washington, a town about 45 miles north of Seattle, my son, brother-in-law, and I watched this comedian who utilizes asides from the audience's point of view to poke fun at himself.  I thought his hour-long monologue was hilarious!  So I thought I'd use the device myself.'s all part of what I'm talking about.  Taking risks...trying new things...thinking outside the box...learning to be flexible with life.

Which brings me full circle to what this post was intended to convey.

I'm forging new niches in my eBay store.  New niches utilizing old articles.  

Old as in vintage...more specifically, vintage ads, articles, prints...and sometimes, the entire vintage magazines.

Where do I find them?  At yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores.

Yes, indeed, the old adage of One man's trash is another man's treasure is certainly tried and true.

Armour's Veribest Meats Advertisement
Woman's Home Companion
August, 1908

Take these ads from a 103-year-old American periodical, for example.  Quite literally, they're dirty pieces of paper--scuffed up, yellowed by the process of oxidation, and sometimes pockmarked with water stains--and yet bearing  value, both monetary and intrinsic.

Progress has been slow, but I've proven to myself that I can sell items like these on eBay.  I've figuratively walked into my fear, as it were, and by doing so, done extensive damage to my acquired inhibitions.

I've also learned some things in the process.  As part of my Superman (aka Hawaiian Odysseus) mission, then, I incorporate little things I learn into my actual listings.  

For example, I now put the following text into my descriptions for the vintage items I'm selling:

Why Collect Vintage Ads?
  • To preserve Americana
  • To understand our heritage
  • To appreciate our social, cultural, political, and economic roots
  • To enhance our grasp of history
  • To compare and contrast the past with the present
  • To leave as a legacy for future generations
  • To own as antique collectibles
  • To acknowledge the art and artists of yesteryear
  • To frame and craft into attractive gifts
  • To utilize as decorative household pieces
  • To buy, sell, and trade
  • To enjoy a good return on investment
By no means am I suddenly a connoisseur of vintage ephemera, but it's certainly a pleasant and serendipitous experience to learn new things as I unearth these nostalgic mementoes.

As I carefully remove these items from their respective magazines, I also recall the circumstances by which I came across the periodicals in the first place. 

For example, the three ads presented here came from the same magazine, a 1908 issue of WOMAN'S HOME COMPANION.

Several posts ago, I wrote about how I preferred having my wife drop me off at a coffee shop while she and our daughter went thrift store shopping.  I was pretty clear about my disdain for shopping.

So, life being a learning curve, several Sundays later, in my quest to find new and different things to sell on eBay, my wife took me to this estate sale in Walla Walla.  I was still in my You're not gonna catch me going to yard sales! mode, so I bravely stayed in the car and gave my wife instructions to look for old magazines.

Several minutes later, she called me on my cellphone and told me that she'd found three old magazines.  I was so excited I almost left the car...but I rationalized that she had the keys, and I didn't want to leave the car unlocked.  So I just waited for her return.

To my dismay, the three periodicals she'd bought were without covers and had liberally been dissected.  A kidney here, a liver there, another organ missing on page 23.  I jest, of course, but seriously--someone had removed ads and/or articles from these ancient issues, rendering the magazines practically worthless and impossible to sell.

I've had them sitting around for the last couple of months or so and was about to toss them out the other day when I stopped and thought, Hey, wait a sec!  I might not be able to sell these magazines, but I can certainly try to sell the ads...

And so there you have it.  I cut these three ads out, did some research on eBay, worked on the descriptions and overall presentation strategy, and posted the items this morning.  By the time you read this, the ads may no longer be available for viewing on eBay.  The reason for this is that expired listings are only retrievable for 90 days.

Suffice it to say that I'm having a wonderful time doing the ultimate recycling...making treasure from another man's trash.

Hey, even if the owners of that country estate thought they were making an easy three bucks selling those magazines to my wife, I'll make multiple times our investment by--yes, you're getting it!--taking risks.  Small-scale risks, you might say, but small or big, risk-taking of any magnitude is one and the same.

A recent big risk for me was to eventually overcome my preconceived notions and finally get out of the car at the next estate sale...and the next...and the one after that...

Okay, so I've set the stage for you.  I'll occasionally be posting about my adventures on eBay, Etsy, yardsellr, Craigslist, and so forth in the weeks to come.  

I'm really looking forward to 2012.  Some say that the Mayan prediction about the world coming to an end in the new year is the absolute gospel.  What little I know about that prediction indicates that they misinterpreted the Mayans' true intent.

But then again, what works for me is that the world as I've known it will essentially come to an end for me.  Why?  Because broader horizons are opening up.  This time next year, to offer a preview of two of my desired goals, I will have my own off-eBay store and will be actively trading with China and other distant ports of call.

You are more than welcome to monitor my progress.  The personal ministry of Hawaiian Odysseus is to encourage the struggling common man all over the globe to persevere by taking risks.

If I can do it--and I will!--then by all means, so can you! 

Ivory Soap Advertisement
Woman's Home Companion
August, 1908

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! I have a friend who was laid off and decided to start an eBay business. She advertises on Craigslist, or gets business via referral, and sells items for people. She then takes a commission from the sale. She only sells items that will fit in her car. It's very lucrative. Hope you have success with your new business.