Saturday, November 16, 2013

We're always hunting!

Are you in the southern Maine or the surrounding areas with some vintage clothing that you are looking to unload?   We are always looking for pre 1980's items!  Call or email us to talk about setting up an appointment!  207.773.8290 between 12-5 or anytime!  We are willing to travel if photos can be provided along with a price list.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Goodbye! Come Back!

Everyone who sells what they love is having a constant internal battle over whether to send something off to a lovely new owner or to add (hoard) it into their own collection.  For me there is the thrill of the hunt, the high of acquiring, and the satisfaction of making someone else's day by selling them something they love and that usually takes the sting away from saying goodbye.  Usually.

I've loved retro-kitschy-goodness since forever and I'm a sucker for vintage hats and old black and white photos.  Rachael has a thing for presidents (especially Teddy) and can recite them all in order...which is like the best party trick in the world if you ask me.  When things we really (really REALLY) love come into our shop you'll often find us staring googly eyed in their direction, mentally placing them somewhere in our house or outfitting them with our shoes and we'll probably say how much we want it between 2 and 26 times.  We'll take pictures of it and then more pictures...we'll show it to everyone who comes in and secretly will them not to buy it and try to rationalize keeping it or, at the very least, fostering it for a bit.  

Alas...we have to set boundaries and remember we are in this game to make a living and even if we don't get to keep all those amazing pieces we find we do get to spend a bit of time with them.  I listed this hat on Etsy after assuring myself I didn't need it and would never wear it and it sold within hours and I was seriously bummed out.  I just thought we had more time together.

I think about this hat way more than I should.

We just sold this adorable planter from our Flea-For-All booth this past weekend and I may have shed a tear or seven.  He was seriously one of my favorite things.  
Lookit this guy!

We have a really large framed Teddy Roosevelt pic out that I know is going to slay Rachael when he sells and I literally think about that oval train case I let go of over the summer once or twice a week.  I feel like allowing ourselves to keep everything we really (really REALLY) love is a slippery slope but there will be exceptions over the years I'm sure.  Sometimes the item makes it a bit easier by not being your size like this pretty lil' number in our Etsy shop....
Black Lace 80s Prom Perfection

All in all selling vintage is our dream come true and though the heartache of saying goodbye is real I truly do enjoy uniting an item with a new owner and it really does make me so happy to hear someone say how much they are going to love/use/cherish their Little Ghost purchase.  

Happy hunting to all you vintage sellers!  Happy collecting to all you vintage buyers!

Here's a cat!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Army of Two

     Little Ghost is now an army of two!   I've reached a point where I need and want someone on this journey and am happy to have a friend and decade long coworker join me.
Iceland is amazing. 

     We have just started scratching the surface of all of our big plans and I have to say...sometimes two is better than one, especially two ass kicking weirdos with a problematic work ethic.  Little Ghost the shop is getting an overhaul (much needed by the by), our new Mens Etsy shop is open, we've got a booth back down at the Portland Flea-For-All, our Womens Etsy shop is going strong and the handmade element that has been missing from the 'Ghost is in full effect!  The time is changing next weekend, Spring is almost here and I am so excited to expand this humble little business that started as a dream of mine and is now a full blown reality.  It still seems so unreal!
LGV shop display

    No matter how small I may set a goal it always has a way of growing into something that seems unattainable but that's how I motivate myself.  I would love to see us expand and continue to grow, to add more festivals to our roster and to have a studio space for our online work one day. For the near future I would love to see our local Best Vintage Store nomination turn into a win in the Portland Phoenix Best of Poll so don't forget to vote here!  We are also always in the market to buy vintage clothing and trinkets so if you have a lead for us send along an email to with a brief description. 

Until next time...happy hunting/haunting!  Here's a cat picture!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oi, that hurt! Lessons learned in the first year of resale.

     It was just about a year ago that I took the first very basic steps towards starting my own business(es) as a reseller.  Part of my process was looking up how to start a business online (terrible idea), visiting small business owners I knew (excellent idea), taking free classes (good idea) and staring in a one woman comedy called "Dawn's multiple pointless trips to City Hall" (an unavoidable annoyance).  I was also cruising through thrift stores looking for inventory (mistake number one, but we'll get to that) and drinking a lot of wine.  Like...a lot.  I was unemployed (by choice) and looking to start a business (see also...stop judging me). 

     Around April I was selling my first items at Portland's (then) new Flea Market, and I had just opened up meager Etsy and Ebay stores, .  I had no idea what I was doing.  I did know that I no longer woke up to an alarm clock, I was meeting the loveliest of people and that my new mantra was "fake it till you make it".  I also got a new cat... 

          Meet Hank.  The new guy, chilling in a vintage baby stroller...cause that's how we roll. 

     I have screwed up a lot in these last 9 months and count on the fact that I will continue to do so unless I morph into some other person who doesn't ever screw up.  (They exist, right?).  I've also gotten better. Some things I picked up myself, some things other resellers taught me, and some I learned the painful way.  Here's my top 5 Oi! That Hurt! moments. 
1.  Inventory:  I thought my keen sense of picking out vintage pieces at a thrift store combined with my bargain nature was all I needed and I spent an embarrassing amount of my start up money this way.  What a dummy.  Don't get me wrong, I still comb thrift and charity stores for fun and for work but it's no way to get inventory as a rule.  For one thing...their prices are not what they used to be (at least in Maine), other resellers are also doing this so things get picked over quickly and the items are often not in the best condition. 
      I now get the bulk of my inventory from private estates/households and from auctions/storage sales.  One buy can last me quite awhile as I usually buy the bulk of the collection if I can afford it.  I also take donations.  I keep what I want and donate what I don't.  Occasionally I but lots off Ebay.  I consign with a few people I know.  I've bought things out of the back of some one's car.  I've gone to a yard sale and asked if there was anything inside for sale.  I tend to put the best condition items online because no matter how well you describe a flaw it can be disappointing to a buyer to see it in real life.  I can also fetch a higher price online because I am reaching people who are specifically looking for vintage items and I ship all over the world...which takes me to the second Oi! lesson. 
2.  Shipping:  Shipping was tricky, took some time to adjust too AND is a painful monetary lesson to learn.  In the beginning I was often covering the difference on shipping costs because it was under quoted, sometimes it was a few cents, sometimes is was a few dollars.  One time it was $35.  Oi, indeed. 
      The USPS has a shipping calculator.  Use it.  I ordered a postage scale off Amazon and it's kind of one of my favorite things in the world and was under $30.  Shipping in and of itself could be a longer blog and I may write one, eventually.  I print my labels through the websites I sell from and I ship very promptly.  Order supplies in bulk and have them on hand.  It's poor customer service to wait an excessive amount of time to ship an item and to charge $6 to ship something that will cost you $2.
.  3.  Research:  Research your labels, your union labels, your stitches, your buttons, your zippers...put integrity into your work.  Don't call something 1960's without knowing it is.  Don't call something "rare" that was mass produced.  Don't call something antique when it's not. Don't look up what some boob is selling an item for on Ebay and throw on the same price. Don't sell a designer/collectible item for under $10...which I've done.  Couple 'a times.  And it hurts.  A lot.  Know what doesn't hurt?  Becoming more informed and buying a valuable item for cheap off someone else who hasn't done their research...which I've now done.  Couple 'a times.  The Vintage Fashion Guild is an amazing resource to give you a launching point for dating clothing with labels .
4.  Negotiate/ Put your business hat on:  Here's some secrets about me (they're not really secrets because I tell everyone)...I hate making phone calls, even to order take out...I can be detrimentally shy...I always think everyone is doing everything better than me...I am my worst worst worst critic.  I felt really weird about taking money from friends at the shop, I sucked at making offers on items I wanted and I often bought stupid things because I felt bad about saying no.  I under priced a lot of things.  I was nice to all the crazy people and drug addicts that came into my shop (did I mention I'm on a wonky street in Portland?).  Essentially, I had no balls.  Now I do.  Well.  Now I'm growing some.  Metaphorically, of course.  Becoming a reseller didn't really make me grow testicles. 
     There is a difference between being fair and being a pushover.  There is also a difference between being business minded and being an jerk face.  When buying items I try to be fair and informed.  When selling items I try to do the same thing. 
5.  Stop Sweating it:  Owning a business is hard.  Teaching yourself about tax laws is boring.  Working 7 days a week is tiring.  Winter is long and bad for business.  Uncertainty is a constant in the small business world.  Competition online is staggering.  USPS rates just went up.  People shop lift.  Sometimes creepy people come in and want to see your feet.  The thing I try to tell myself is...STOP. SWEATING. IT.  Do I want to go back to my old job, with it's benefits and direct deposit and corporate malarkey and seventeen bosses and 5 day work week?  Nope.  Not a chance.  So.  Stop sweating it.  Learn.  Grow.  Get better.  For me hiring an accountant helped me relax, and accepting that once in a great while it's worth it to shut down the shop and drink Bloodies (like when an old friend is in town for the holidays...                                                                    

Doing what I do isn't an alternative to having a "real job".  I work all the time.  I love what I do.  I learn something new weekly.  Sometimes I even make money!  Hooray!  I'm expanding the 'Ghost empire and am taking on a partner...this week!  I expect big things from us...and big mistakes.  Nothing a cocktail won't fix though...fingers crossed. 

p.s.  A side note is to not treat your spouse, significant other, bestie, dog, fish, friendly neighborhood spirt, etc as a therapist/business counselor/ idea launch pad.  They will get sick of listening to you.  My husband deserves a metal for getting through this first year of me owning a business.

p.p.s. This is a real wedding photo of us.  But that's not really Elvis.  Or is it?