Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Setting My Odyssean Sails for eBay Waters

1893 World's Fair--Chicago's Great Telescope
Hawaiian Odysseus Photo

My odyssey takes me on the most interesting twists, turns, and detours. 

I had sworn to never attend yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, church bazaars, and the like. 

Perhaps the core of my disdain for these haunts was my perception that this was part and parcel of a feminine mystique, not a hangout for men. I'm not machismo by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that I had no interest whatsoever in going to these places because--in my early adult years, at least--I only saw women frequenting these places. 

Plus, I learned a long time ago that shopping with a woman is like getting my teeth pulled without the balm of local anesthesia. You know...the torture of dealing with a pain that tears at the tiniest yet most vulnerable of nerves...coping in vain to deal with it by arching my back and slowly realizing that my butt is two feet off of the chair.

In any event, 9 parts because of the major economic stall of the last two years and 1 part out of sheer desperation to jump start my anemic eBay business, I went looking for new adventures.  

And so it was, one fateful Sunday morning, that I set my Odyssean sails against the wind, the figurative ocean spray (more like spit) of old tapes in my head filling me with skepticism and every excuse in the book to stay home: Don't do it! You'll regret it! You'll be the only man in the place!

Long story short (because this post is truly about something other than my advent as a thrift store pirate), I was hooked! Like a bonito attacking the tantalizing leg of an octopus attached to a huge curved object, I was HOOKED!

Funny thing is, so were a lot of other men. My preconceived notions melted like the arctic glaciers succumbing to global warming.

At this thrift store sponsored by the College Place Seventh-Day Adventist church, I happened to find this old antiquarian book that had been published in 1894. The book was a collection of black and white photographs from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, more familiarly known as the Chicago World's Fair.

In the hopes of taking my eBay store to a new level, I had been selling vintage ads for a couple of months with some success. I had at least a novice's perception, then, that vintage items appealed to a great number of people globally. I also had been besieged with spam mail advertising the collectible prints niche, some of which I had actually been reading.

The combination of these two activities, plus my predisposition towards impulsivity, prompted me to act quickly. 

Against my better judgment, I forked over a hard-earned fifty cents to the portly woman sitting at the sales desk.

 1893 World's Fair--Thomas Coke Ordaining Francis Asbury
(Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

The next day, I did what every kindergarten boy wishes he could do...I literally tore that book apart, carefully removing the black and white prints in the process. I also had the wherewithal--don't ask me where that came from--to take photographs of the cover page and a small paragraph. These would help me authenticate the age and source of these prints.

It took me a few hours to process the pages and list at least a dozen prints. Once I felt comfortable with the basic template, things moved a little more quickly.

My cursory review of collectible art prints revealed that people were charging relatively high prices for these prints. Being a newbie, I mustered enough courage to push the ante just a bit while remaining on the borderline of my comfort zone.  I set my price at $25 a print.

As of this writing--and it's roughly been about two months--I have been blessed with three sales, and several more prints have watchers (which doesn't necessarily mean I have a sale but at least unveils the possibility). 

1893 World's Fair--Dom Pedro's Carriage
(Hawaiian Odysseus Photo)

Granted, I'm only on the ground floor of this exciting niche. But the nice thing about that is: Unless you're looking for the parking garage, the only way left is up!

And if there's anyone out there in blog reader land who learned something new or was at any level inspired to get out of his or her comfort zone and risk something new, maybe even strange, I welcome you to comment on, tweet, and share this post with others.

Now go and set your own Odyssean sails! And God bless you all!