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Archive for September, 2009

21c Flea Market Sept 09 MatchesDeciding to tackle clutter is a major endeavour, but it is one that can actually pay for itself. As savvy secondhand shoppers we know the social, environmental and economical value of not buying new. We live in an era where we can be proud of our frugal buys but we must also be just as conscious when deciding to get rid of it.

The challenge is to figure out the best possible way to dispose of our accumulated possessions, often referred to as clutter. Unfortunately not everything will be sellable but again not everything needs to go into the trash. Some careful sorting ahead of time will help you to figure out the difference.

Keep in mind that selling your stuff won’t necessarily be easy nor will it be quick. There is a misperception out there that all stuff is valuable and that people will pay top dollar for it. This is not so, secondhand shoppers are quite savvy and will shop around until they find what they are looking for and at the price they are willing to pay.

Your job is to make sure that you choose the right venue to sell your clutter and to be prepared to also donate some of it to charity. Some of it will need to be tossed out, but make sure that before you do throw it in the garbage that you check to see if it is recyclable.

Once you have sorted through your clutter and organized the stuff that needs to go, it is time to decide where it goes. Arriving at this step in the process is a huge accomplishment, so take a moment and congratulate yourself on getting this far.

Step One – Take Stock

Make an inventory of all the stuff that you wish to get rid of. Take a few minutes to physically go around your home and write down all the things that need to go. Sometimes it is easier to focus on one room at a time.

Step Two – Categorize

On another sheet, write the following headings on the top of the page: Trash, Recycle, Give Away, Donate, Storage, and Sell. Now go back to your previous list and start to place items in the appropriate columns. For all categories except the sell column, collect the items and place in bags or boxes, making them ready to give away or for storage. For the items you wish to donate, contact your favourite charity and make arrangements to get it to them. If you need some ideas, check the Charity section in the Online Directory. With all these items taken care of, now you can tackle those you wish to sell.

Step Three – Preparing to Sell

Look at all the items in the sell category.

For each item:

1.Make sure you want to sell it.
2.Make sure it is sellable.
3.Make sure you have the time and energy to sell it.
4.Make any necessary changes to the list.

Step Four – Figure Out Where to Sell It

There about nine main ways to sell your clutter. Each is a bit different and requires some thought and careful planning. Good to do your homework ahead of time to see which way would work best for you and your stuff. The GVRD has published a wonderful little resource online that acts as a directory to many of the services listed below. It is called 101 Things to do with all your old stuff.

1. Classifieds

This is a standard method, used by many for specific items. Traditionally people have used their local papers to sell furniture, electronics, and higher priced items. Today there are many different publications available in print and on the Internet. Make sure you choose the right publication. You can often do a lot of the screening ahead of time on the phone or through Email, quickly finding serious buyers. Tip: Posting on local sites like Craigslist or Used Vancouver is free and can generate results quickly.

2. Garage Sales

Another common approach, but seasonal. Can be time consuming, but this is a great way to get rid of a lot of clutter all at once. Keep prices low and be willing to negotiate. The whole point of a garage sale is to get rid of stuff. You can make money, but usually through volume not high ticket items. TIP: Good signage is key, always have arrows on your sign pointing people in the right direction…this works especially well for the “drive-bys.”

3. Flea Markets/Swap Meets

If you have a lot of stuff, but would prefer to not have people come to your home, you can always purchase a table at a local community flea market or swap meet. Often you can get a table anywhere from $10 to $55 and you can usually make that money back because of the sheer volume of people coming to the event. Key here again is to have attractive displays, know your prices, and be willing to negotiate. TIP: Check out listings in Market Market to find out about upcoming flea markets and swap meets in and around Vancouver.

4. Auctions

An often underused resource, auction houses will not only purchase estate items but everyday housewares as well. Make sure when you contact them that you find out about their various fees, consignment process, and how they calculate the final price. Most auction houses have auctions on a weekly basis and can get fair prices for your items and many list items on their Web sites. TIP: Best to visit some of the auctions during preview times to see if they would be a good fit.

5. Consignment Stores

Traditionally these stores have focused on selling clothing and sports equipment on consignment. That is, the selling price is split between the seller and the store owner. Now, you can use this same process for everyday housewares including furniture, kitchen items, books, small appliances, antiques, collectibles, and so much more. Keep in mind that each store has their own consignment process and will only keep items in stock for a few months at a time. Many consignment stores have their own Web sites that outline their basic expectations. TIP: Good to do your homework ahead of time, often you can email them a photo of what you are looking to sell and they will let you know if they can sell it for you.

6. Antique Stores

Every antique store seems to have its own specific area of expertise. Important to call around first to see which store might be the right one for you to approach with your antiques and collectibles. Some stores will buy outright whereas others will consign your items. If you are unsure of the exact value of something, it may be useful to have it appraised before you take it to an antique store. Generally most store owners are quite knowledgeable and will give you an honest assessment of what your items might be worth. TIP: Good to have photos of your antiques to either Email the stores or to show them in person.

7. Dealers

There are also a special group of people who buy and sell items without having a store front. They are called dealers and will often sell items through flea markets, swap meets, and antique shows. They usually collect very specific types of items and are also quite knowledgeable and will pay a fair price. TIP: The best way to find them is through word of mouth and by going to various events and shows and talking to them in person. Often, with smaller items, you can take them with you and see what they say. Or, you can also take pictures.

8. Used/Secondhand Stores

These are stores that will usually buy items outright, like books, records/CDs, instruments, electronics, computers, furniture, housewares, sports equipment, and more. Again, it is always good to call each store to see what they might pay for your item. Prices and the buying criteria will vary from store to store. TIP: Best to call them in advance to find out if they will purchase your items and at what price.

9. Vintage/Retro Stores

These are specific stores that will purchase vintage/retro items such as clothing, jewellery, accessories, and housewares. Although some may sell a few items on consignment, generally vintage/retro store owners will purchase items outright and often they collect stock through a variety of sources. TIP: Every store is a bit different, so best to call in advance to let them know what you have.

Step Five – Start making all the calls and start turning your clutter into cash!

Step 6 – Still feeling overwhelmed?

Maybe time to revisit the list or consider hiring a professional or getting some support to move through the process. Vancouver has some well respected consultants in this are; Out of Chaos and Paul Talbot.

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Bohemia Gallery Front WindowBohemia Gallery (3243 Main Street @ 16th), one of Vancouver’s best kept consignment store secrets, welcomes local designer Karen Green, from ODP Designs, to The Loft. Jann Purcell, Bohemia’s owner, is thrilled to showcase ODP Designs and passionately believes that Karen’s designs are a perfect fit with her belief and life philosophy that “fashion is art”. Karen’s designs, all one-of-a kind pieces, are reconstructed from recycled clothing and fabric and reflect her love of all things unique and beautiful. Knowing no boundaries, Karen’s designs create cultural connections by mixing fabrics and fusing them in the most unexpected and exciting ways.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show TrioTogether, Jann and Karen are no strangers to the fashion industry, between them they have over 40 years experience. Jann has worked 20 years in fashion retail and opened Bohemia Gallery in 2004 with her daughter Ashlee. Five years later, with her son Jason and his wife Taryn now part of the business, they have expanded the store to include the upstairs portion, called The Loft, and have over 3000 square feet of retail space. With a blend of contemporary, retro and vintage clothing and accessories for both men and women, their store can best be described as “boho chic meets retro crazy.”

Karen started designing her own clothing at an early age and created her own distinctive look – first for herself and then for her children. Eventually her passion for fashion led her to start her own fashion line – ODP Designs. With the loving support of her family, Karen has grown her fashion line to include everything from reconstructed sweaters and kilts to beautiful wedding gowns that are crafted from a unique multi-cultural mix of fabric.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show Green Dress

This past week, Karen and Jann joined forces to host their first fashion show in the Loft, upstairs in the Bohemia Gallery. It was an incredible success with over 200 people in attendance. Jann showcased vintage fashions and clothing from the late 70s and early 80s, reminding us that what is old is definitely new again. The models (both men and women) presented a visual feast of bright colours with shiny gold accents as accessories (everything they wore came from the store). Their silhouettes were framed by striking hair pieces.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show GoldKaren’s models (again both men and women) on the other hand were more muted in colour, but vibrant in layers of texture and fabric. All of her designs are unique and can best be described as Victorian Romanticism meets the streets of Vancouver. From everyday wear to Celtic inspired wedding gowns and stylish kilts and sweaters for men, her clothing not only blends texture and fabric but various fashion eras as well.

Bohemia and ODP Fall Fashion Show Wedding Dresses 2

The evening was both festive and fun. I look forward to their next event, as I am sure it won’t disappoint.

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Ladner Thrift Store CupsThe Delta Hospital Auxillary Thrift Store in Ladner (4816 Delta Ave., Ladner, BC) is definitely old school when it comes to how they do business. And it shows, their shop is always busy. Located in the quaint fishing village known as Ladner, this thrift store (located in two separate store fronts side by side) has a wonderful selection of clothing, housewares, books, some furniture, collectibles, sports gear, tools, electronics and so much more. And, everything is priced to sell. Here you can actually find many different items under a dollar and the clothing has fixed prices that are extremely reasonable.

As a result of their prices being so low, their stock is constantly changing and many of the locals visit the store at least a few times a week to see what new items have come in. They cater to all ages and the friendly volunteers who run the store are always eager to help. I also appreciate how well organized they are and how clean everything is. The atmosphere is quite fun and I can’t help myself but want to buy something. This last time I found a really nice white long sleeved Tshirt for $3. It looks quite new and fits like a glove.

Every month they also host the Collectible’s Sale where they will bring out a terrific selection of some of their better pieces that include collectibles, antiques, silver, china, vintage clothing, retro housewares, etc. Although the prices for these sales are a bit higher, they are still priced to sell. Well worth checking out! Their next Collectible Sale is set for September 30th 10am to 3pm.

Ladner Thrift Store Kids ClothingStore Details:
Hours of Operation: Mondays 1:30pm to 5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays 10am to 3pm, and Closed Sundays
4816 Delta Avenue, Lander BC
(604) 946-1455

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Just thought I would let folks know that at the West Point Grey Rummage Sale tomorrow – Sunday 2pm to 4pm – they will be selling everything at terrific prices. I also heard that they will sell bags for $5 and then you get to stuff as much of what you can into that bag. Great deal, especially if you are looking for clothing.

I was there today and I must say, they have a huge amount of stock to go through. Well worth your while if you can get out there on Sunday. I am sure you won’t be disappointed. I was particularly impressed with the vast selection of clothing for men, women, and children. I came away with some great finds.

Address is listed below in my previous post.

Also, for anyone wanting to check out the Ladner Market (one of my favourites over the summer), tomorrow is their last day for this year. And I heard that a Zydeco band will be playing…should be rather festive. This market starts at 10am and is held in the downtown core of Ladner…you can’t miss it as there is tons of signage leading you there.

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West Point Grey Rummage Sale Treasures3Rummage sale season has arrived….and I couldn’t be happier. There is something to be said for the old fashioned church rummage sales with bits of everything on sale for prices as low as 25 cents. Mind you, there is not much that you can get for a quarter these days, but that the possibility exists is very exciting for bargain shoppers like myself.

For many local churches, these rummage sales are one of their biggest fundraising events and an opportunity for their congregation to come together and have some fun. For the rest of us, it is a way to also be part of our community while finding some great deals on just about anything.

The first sale of the season is being held up at West Point Grey United Church (4595 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver). West Point Grey Rummage Sale Line UpLocated on the corner or 8th Avenue and Tolmie, they offer one of the largest sales that spans over four days. Starting today (September 10th) and tomorrow (September 11th) from 3pm to 7pm they will be selling books, collectibles, knick knacks, music CDs and tapes, and movies DVDs and tapes. Then on Saturday (September 13th) they have the “big sale” where not only can you still buy the above mentioned items, but where you can also find an incredible selection of clothing, sports gear, housewares, tools, linens, picture frames, garden supplies, and so much more. You will even be able to stock up on home made baked goods. Then on Sunday they have a blow out clearance sale from 2pm to 4pm, often selling everything at half price or less.

West Point Grey Rummage Sale TreasuresWith all this selection usually comes a lot of people…be prepared to line up for a little while for some of the sections (e.g., books) as they have had to spread out in various rooms throughout the church. I had to wait 10 minutes to get into view the books and about 15 for the collectible section today. However, the wait was well worth it as I found a copy of John Bishop’s cookbook “Cooking At My House” for $5. West Point Grey Rummage SaleThis is an amazing buy as I already own it and cook from it frequently. I have been looking to find another copy for a friend who also loves his style of cooking. The recipes are user friendly and incredibly flavourful. I also bought a copy of Le Cordon Bleu’s “Home Cooking Collection on Casseroles.” One of my favourite dishes to make is Cassoulet and they have an interesting version in it that uses duck confit…this I want to try.

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clothing exchangeA few years back I had the opportunity to participate in a unique gathering that brought together all the elements for a terrific night out: good friends, fine wine, great food, and a massive pile of clothes. The evening was part of a seasonal gathering called the “clothing exchange,” where women swap their unwanted clothes and have a bit of a social at the same time.

In order to find out how to organize one, I consulted with my friend Suzanne who is one of the more seasoned veterans of this process. She has been involved with clothing exchanges, sometimes called “the games,” for over 15 years and continues to love this process. “It is the best thing,” she says. “You take a bag of stuff you no longer want and/or have outgrown and come home with a bag of amazing new finds – all without spending a dime.”

The social aspect is above all central, but the added benefits are many. Not only do you get to clean out your closets, you also get to see some of your stuff go to a good home and the rest to charity. There is no waste and the process is fun with just the right amount of sport to keep it interesting. And, you get to go home with some great new clothes.

Hosting a “clothing exchange” party is easy and fun. Suzanne jokingly says that there are no rules – but there are a few to keep in mind. Below are Suzanne’s tips for having the best “Great Canadian Clothing Exchange Party.”

The Basics:

  1. Need between 9 – 15 women for it to really work.
  2. Good to invite a variety of women (different sizes) with a mixture of tastes and styles. It also helps to mix social circles.
  3. Everyone should come with at least one large bag of clothes and accessories (shoes, hats, belts, etc.).
  4. Provide refreshments and snacks or make it a potluck. (Trying on all those clothes can make a person hungry)
  5. If you plan on doing this more than once, create a core group of four to five women who will always be invited…keeping “the games alive.”
  6. Need to alternate the other people you invite so as not to keep getting the same stuff each time.
  7. Good to offer these parties seasonally.
  8. Whatever is left over at the end of the evening gets donated to charity by the party host.

Planning Process:

  1. Make sure your home can accommodate 9-15 women trying on clothes. If not, consider using a friend’s home that may have more space.
  2. Set the date a few weeks in advance. It is generally better to offer it during the week, but if you want more of a social…the weekend is best.
  3. Invite people over at around 7:30. This allows some time for socializing before “the games” begin, which should promptly start at 8:00 and go to about 10.00.
  4. Invite your core group and the rest. You need at least 9 women to make it work, but up to 15 is ideal. Always a good idea to invite a few more as some people may cancel.
  5. Good to call a few days in advance to confirm, making sure you have enough time to invite others if you need to.
  6. When choosing the group, make sure you are inviting people who enjoy secondhand clothes and this type of event.

The Night Of:

  1. Clear a space in your home that will comfortably fit up to 15 women and one massive pile of clothes.
  2. Make sure that you have enough mirrors handy so that people can check to see that things fit properly. You might even ask a few people to bring over some stand up mirrors. Spread the mirrors in different rooms, allowing privacy for those who need it.
  3. Because of how everyone will be trying on clothes, possibly stripping to their knickers in the open, best to not have husbands/boyfriends and children around. This could make some people feel a bit uncomfortable.
  4. As people arrive have them dump their clothes in the pile and quickly cover it so no one gets the “advantage.” You need to make sure that you have a few large blankets handy to cover the pile adequately.

Let “the games” Begin:

Once everyone has arrived, go over the “rules” before you start.

  • There are really no rules, BUT…
  • Have fun, first and foremost
  • Everyone is to create a circle around the pile
  • The host counts to three and then everyone helps to remove the blankets together
  • Each person grabs the clothes and accessories that she is interested in and creates a personal pile. No one can take from that pile, but they can call “dibs” just in case you decide you that don’t want it. If no one has called dibs, it goes back into the pile as “incoming” or “seconds” so that people know to go and check it out.
  • There should be several stations set up where people can try things on.

Some Tips:

  • Good to go in with both a playful and assertive attitude
  • Know what you like, especially in terms of colours and textures
  • Make quick assessments
  • Move quickly, don’t dawdle
  • Grab everything that is of interest to you and place it in your pile–you can always throw it back in if you don’t want it
  • Don’t take it personally when people aren’t going after the clothes you brought

At The End:

Once everyone is done creating her own pile, all the clothes that are left over are sent to charity. The host usually deals with this aspect, but can ask if people have some favourite charities that they like to donate clothes to. Always a good idea to call the charities ahead of time to make sure they are in need of the clothes. Many have outlined what they need and how they accept clothes. Some will even pick them up like the Canadian Diabetes Association, Big Brothers, and Developmental Disabilities Association. Many of these charities also have deposit bins conveniently located throughout the city.

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It used to be that thrift shopping was seen almost as a bad thing. Fortunately times have changed and not only is it now considered to be both economical and fun, for some it has even become a sport!

April - May 2009 St. Phillips Rummage

Here below is my overview of all the different places to score some terrific and thrifty finds. Each is a bit different and you should tailor your thrift shopping to suit your own style and needs. But, if you have an opportunity to check them all out it could be well worth your while.

  1. Free Stuff
    Classifieds: This is by far the most economical option. Check your local papers and Web sites such as Craigslist and UsedVancouver for people looking to give stuff away. You could be pleasantly surprised by what you can find. Always a good idea to check those sections often as they do change regularly.
    Community Clean Ups: Many communities have a few days a year that they set aside for people to pile all their unwanted items in their driveways/yards. It stays out for a few days before being picked up, allowing the true thrift enthusiast time to check it out. What is left over is picked up by the sanitation workers and sent to the dump. Good to get there early as the good stuff gets picked over quickly.
    Neighbourhood Giveaways: For those areas that do not have the community pick ups, people will often leave stuff in their laneway/lobby/yards with a little sign that is usually labeled “free”. This is a common practice in many areas and apartment buildings. Don’t feel embarrassed about picking stuff–you are saving it from hitting the landfills and extending its shelf life a little longer. If it is not happening in your area, start the trend and see what happens.
    Exchange Parties: These are becoming more popular with women wanting to find some creative ways to swap clothing and accessories but could be adapted for all sorts of stuff.  Check out my post on how to host your own Clothing Exchange Party.
    Dumpster Diving: Now this is not for everyone, but you never know what you can find in the dumpsters behind large apartment buildings.
  2. Garage Sales
    The next level up from the free stuff is the garage sale. In general, you can often find what you are looking for at a great price. However, types of items and prices may vary depending on which part of town you are in. Check your local classifieds, garage sale listings, and local signage out on weekends for where to go.
  3. Classifieds
    Both the daily and smaller community newspapers have classified sections where people will post a variety of items for sale, usually reasonably priced. Many other publications also have a classified section in print and online. Again, sites like Craigslist and UsedVancouver offer a huge selection of items in many different categories and people will often post photos of the items.
  4. Flea Markets/Swap Meets
    Although some are held year round, most of these sales occur in the spring and summer months. This is another terrific place to find a great deal on what you are looking for. Here people rent out tables or space to sell their wares. Again, depending on where you go you can pretty much find almost anything this way at a great price. Check out Market Market on this site for links to a variety of local markets.
  5. Rummage, Church, and School Sales
    These are usually held as fundraisers and items are always donated–keeping the prices quite reasonable. Because proceeds will benefit the organization, people usually donate quality items. Best to get there early or near the end of the day when prices are reduced to sell. Fall and spring are when you see most of these sales showing up in the classified sections of your local papers.
  6. Thrift Stores
    Here items are also donated, but because this is a storefront the prices will be a bit more. In general though, you can still find some terrific deals that will be less than the secondhand or consignment stores. Some or all of the proceeds are usually donated to a charity.
  7. Auctions
    Although not typically associated with thrift shopping, some auctions have one day a week that they set aside for items that are of lesser value and can’t be sold at the Estate Auctions. Here you can find some incredible deals, often for under $25. But sometimes you need to buy things in bulk to get access to the true treasures.
  8. Friends and Families
    We often forget to check in with friends and families to see if they might have what we are looking for. It never hurts to ask around as often friends and family will just give stuff away.

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