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We chose a different part of the walking trail last night.  We walked along the canal this time.  It was a much different experience than walking through the wetlands

We walked along the water.
We walked along the water.

 

This was pretty much what we saw the whole time.

This was pretty much what we saw the whole time.

 

Lots of pretty trees.

Lots of pretty trees.

 Lots of water to look at.

Lots of water.

 
And the trail starts getting darker.
So when the trail starts getting darker…
You know what that means as the sun start going down.
You know what that means as the sun start going down.

Bugs.  Mosquitoes, black flies, you name it.  Bugs.

And lots of them.

My husband said that he could get the Mohawk Valley Erie Canal Swine Flu Virus Plague from these bugs.  I’m sure he made that up.  He’s such a drama king. 

So we high-tailed it to the car and stopped at the pizza place down the road for a slice.  BTW, this was another business just like this one   that took every opportunity to cross-promote and to provide excellent customer service.  While we were chowing on our pizza the friendly owner asked us how the slices were (this is unheard of around here at a deli/pizza place) and she then reminded us that they now have ice cream too.  After she walked away, I commented to my husband, “Cross-promotion!  Good for her!”  He just shook his head.  He’s used to me saying things like this.

The pizza sure made the buggy experience worthwhile.  This was the best part though:

See the rainbow?

See the rainbow?

 

Do you brave the bugs to commune with nature?  Maybe I’ll wear Skin So Soft next time.  I’ve heard that it scares off mosquitoes.  Not sure if it works for black flies. 

Does anybody have any hints for a natural, non-chemical bug deterrent?  I’d love to hear about them.

 

I decided last week that I need to detach myself from my laptop for a full 24 hours at least once a week.  What better day than Sunday – the day that ‘I can’t ship even if I wanted to’ day. 

So yesterday I did not check my emails, answer questions, review my sales, or play on Facebook (ok I finally signed on at 8 PM but it was really 24 hours and not a complete day…)   I can easily ignore Twitter these days since I now have over 800 followers and get completely overwhelmed there with the constant sales pitches or internet Twitter hooker propositions.  Seriously.  Why don’t they just go away?

So yesterday I read the Sunday paper in the sun – got sunburned but as a red-headed, fair-skinned, freckled person I really should know better.  The burn didn’t carry over until today so it wasn’t so bad. 

I did yardwork.  The weed whacker was dead or wasn’t charged so I used hedge clippers.  Had rubber band arms all day long after that.  I really do need to exercise more if a pair of clippers got the best of me.

The best part was the nature walk that hubby and I took at the end of the afternoon.  I remembered to bring my camera this time.

We saw ducks swimming in the marsh.
We saw ducks swimming in the marsh.

 

I took lots of wetland photos.  See the birdhouse?
I took lots of wetland photos. See the birdhouse?

 

It was serene.
It was serene.

 

But it wasn't quiet. If it's nature it doesn't seem like noise.
But it wasn’t quiet. If it’s nature it doesn’t seem like noise.

 

We saw a lot of this.

We saw a lot of this.

 

And lots of these.

And lots of these.

 

The forest area was dark and buggy.

The forest area was dark and buggy.

 

That's why we stayed here.  On the mostly empty trail.

That's why we stayed here. On the mostly empty trail.

 

After a while we could've used this.

After a while we could've used this.

But we used this instead and kept going.

But we used this instead and kept going.

 

 

I saw a snake in front of this rock the day before. Not today.

A snake showed up here the day before. Not today.

 

 
This bird did though.  He had a lot to say.

This bird did though. He had a lot to say.

When was the last time you detached yourself from the e-world?  Was it as difficult for you as it was for me?  I admit that by 8 PM I was really jones-ing for some computer time.  And I needed something to do to keep me awake! 

Next Sunday I’ll be trying this internet-free thing again.  It was enlightening to see how this laptop in front of me has been overtaking some quality time that I could be spending with others or even by myself.  Moderation?  Not sure if one day off qualifies for moderation, but that’s what I’m willing to do right now.  Maybe it will make Mondays a bit nicer too.  🙂

This is Day 2 of some of the most beautiful weather that we’ve had here all summer.  It was a flashback from yesterday .

There were still some blackberries left from yesterday.
There were still some blackberries left from yesterday.

 

I picked as many as I could reach.

 
I picked as many as I could reach.

 

I ate way more than just these.
I ate way more than just these.

 

The cows didn't avoid me today.
The cows didn’t avoid me today.
They were too involved with swatting at flies.
They were too involved with swatting at flies.

See the horses in the background?  They were still camera-shy today but I snuck up and snapped them anyway.

This old girl  doesn’t mind haven’t her picture taken.

She's used to it after 15 years of living with me.
She’s used to it after 15 years of living with me.
She still asks me to please open the gate so she can go swat flies with the cows. Even though the answer is 'No' every time. She still asks me to please open the gate so she can go swat flies with the cows. Even though she knows that the answer is ‘No’ every time.
Animals fascinate me and I could probably spend way too much time photographing them.  Especially when there’s sunshine and blackberries involved.
 
 
Do you compulsively photograph your animals?  Do they mind?  I’d love to hear about it.
 

It is a rare sunny and gorgeous day in Central New York.  I had to get out the camera because these kind of days are so rare.

 
 

Scene from my backyard

Scene from my backyard
 
 
 
 
 
Cows in my backyard Cows in my backyard
 
 
More cows but they're not mine... More cows but they’re not mine…

I get to look at cows and horses every day in my back yard.  The best part is that they’re not mine and I don’t have to feed them!  Next door is a cattle auction barn and the owner has two gorgeous horses that were not available today for photos.  They were too busy enjoying their day outside of my camera range.  “Those pesky paparazzi follow us everywhere” was overheard in the far field…

Barbecued outside today for lunch.  The good news for the cows is that I was cooking chicken strips today.  I always feel a little strange when I’m flipping burgers in front of curious cows that sometimes come up to the barbed wire fence and peek over to see what I’m doing.  Today they didn’t care and were far away from me.  Maybe they heard from the horses that I would be taking pictures, because shortly after I came out with camera in hand, they had high-tailed it much farther away than they had been five minutes earlier.  These cows are camera-shy.  But that didn’t stop me.

   

Cowless field

Cowless field

 I think I see a few reeeeallly far away.  Guess they showed me!

I got the last laugh though.  Look what we had for dessert?

I worked for it...

I worked for it...

 

Picked a whole bunch

Picked a whole bunch

These didn't last long.

These didn't last long.

And I’ve got the stains to prove it.
Don't worry.  It's not as bad as it looks.  In fact it was totally worth it.

Don't worry. It's not as bad as it looks. In fact it was totally worth it.

I dropped one of these. There's a very happy squirrel down there.

I dropped one of these. There's a very happy squirrel down there.

I’ll save these for later.  Maybe tomorrow.

berries 3

Hope the cows don’t find them first!

 

I’ve been selling items online for about 5 years now.  Currently and hopefully for the rest of my working days this is a full-time gig.  In the past it has run the gamut from part-time in addition to a full-time lifesucking corporate job, little time because it was just a hobby, to virtually no time as in listing on occasion and letting the “business” sit there until a sale occurred.

 As with most things in my life, I have learned this business the hard way.  From my mistakes, from others’ mistakes, from reading incessantly for hours, and from trying a variety of new things as I went along.  Some attempts were successful and many were abyssmal failures but all were necessary to get where I am today – a mild to moderate success with much improvement needed.  🙂

I still feel like I don’t know a lot about this business but there are a few things that I feel that I know for sure.  These thoughts have occurred to me a lot in the last few weeks so I felt the need to write them down.  You may agree with some of these things.  You might strongly disagree but this has been my experience.

1.)  Online selling is a numbers game.  All the studying, Tweeting, webinars and podcasts do NOT replace listing and more listing.  The more I list, the more I sell.  Period.

2.)  Surround yourself with whiners, complainers, and do-nothings and that is what you become.  There are plenty of capable, successful people on the internet that are more than happy to be an example of what works and will share many helpful ideas on their blogs or on Facebook/Twitter.  There is a disproportionately large number of disgruntled negative sellers that feel the need to channel all of their energy into “not selling so that I may complain.”  Avoid them.  They are everywhere.  Especially in chat forums.  Enough said, until you get to Number 4 anyway.  But first, Number 3… 

3.)  Put the Best Offer on your eBay listings and OBO (Or Best Offer) on Bonanzle.  Not everyone will be a lowballer and I can always reject any offer.  It’s also FREE, so why not?  This single item is the best thing that I’ve done for my eBay store this year.  Not every buyer uses it but many want to haggle and succeed in getting an even better deal.  Some offers get declined but I wake up to a few of these every day.  In a tough $$$ week, I’m happy to see these offers because they represent to me “money in the bank.”  If I accept an offer on eBay, it’s an automatic sale.  Craig Stark of BookThink just wrote about this feature and his experience was similar.

4.)  Chat forums are, by and large, supreme time wasters.  Hours can go by while I read about the latest “controversy” on each venue.  I use the chat rooms now as a water cooler (with time limits in place) or as a place to go to find answers.  Working at home is isolating but I don’t need to have hours of online conversation either.  Don’t even get me started on the people who spend all of their time Tweeting news stories all day…  😦

5.)  Be flexible.  As much as it pains me to constantly change and ‘roll with it, baby’, it’s a fact of life online.  Things move fast here and when you sell on many venues there is always a “major change” ahead.  Each venue is constantly improving themselves (or they’re trying anyway) and that means CHANGE.  Whether I like it or not.  Will I complain if I don’t agree with the change?  Yep, but hopefully not for hours in a chat room and not for long.  I will tell myself to get over it and plan accordingly.  It’s their sandbox and I’m not taking my toys home unless it causes me to lose a significant amount of money.  Then I’ll just leave. 

Many MANY people criticize eBay.  I have many not-so-nice opinions of the way they’ve done business over the last two years.  I’ve never left them though.  It’s where I have made a large amount of money and their traffic still can’t be beat.  When I tell people that I sell on Bonanzle, they’ve never heard of it.  This is changing and it’s why I stay even though my sales there have been poor.  I have faith in Bonanzle and the people that run it.  When I tell people that I sell online, they say “You sell on eBay?”  It’s still the synonomous word for “online sales” and that is where the average internet buyer will go to look for a deal.  So I stay there and roll with the changes, for good and for bad.  Which brings me to…

6.)  Sell on various venues.  Don’t get roped into believing that one venue is the answer.  Always have an alternative site or, in my case, many sites.  I’m not so enamored of eBay to not realize that they can shut me down in a second.  I’ve read all the stories and heard all of the tales.  If Bill Harding at Bonanzle was offered a mega-million dollars to turn over the keys to Bonanzle, would he be foolish enough NOT to take it?  Even if it happened to be from his competitor?  And I wouldn’t blame him one bit for taking it and running.  These types of things happen all the time in business.

Spread yourself around and try to stay away from trouble.  Read the guidelines of each site and try, although this one is tough, to keep up with the ever-changing rules of each site.  Don’t try to cheat the system.  Don’t give a venue a reason to shut you down.  If you get an offer on eBay, keep it on eBay.  If you’re not allowed to direct a buyer to your blog off-site, don’t post your website on your listing.  When you get a sale from Borders through Alibris, don’t tout your own site in your packing materials.  “Dance with the one that brought ya” as they say. 

7.)  Sell a variety of items.  Having a mix of new, used, collectible, and rare items is a good plan for me.  Used books are becoming harder and harder to sell for any real money.  This is the market that I started in and it is becoming the part of my business that I’m spending the least time with.  The Kindle is here whether we like it or not.  Used books donation bins are becoming a business model for more and more megasellers.  Friends of the Library sales are increasingly rare and usually picked over by the libraries themselves, who have finally figured out that the books they were selling for 25 cents are worth a lot more to keep and sell on their own.  Amazon is continually hawking how easy it is to “Sell Yours Here” to anyone that pushes the button.  Anyone can be a bookseller on Amazon, just hit the button.  Many wholesalers are now competing against their retail customers too. If I stayed with the books I would be very much worse for the wear right now.

These are just a few things that I know and I have so much more to learn.  For now, I’ll be listing auctions for the rest of the day because —  8.) Blogging  doesn’t make me money despite what I’ve read on Twitter…

Put some grrreat stuff up on eBay this week. 

This is some of my absolute favorite paper ephemera!  I love to read, hold, touch, dream, and wonder about these old items.  I can pore for hours over a box of vintage paper that I’ve acquired at auction and put next to my lamp that is next to my comfy couch while the hubby watches TV.  When I come home from an auction I will usually set aside a mixed box lot of paper to sift through while we watch the television.  Sifting is so much more interesting…

Like this for example:

teacher 2

Going along with the academic theme is this nice little booklet from 1901:

super 1

These are penmanship primers from 1888:

writing 1

Written way back when handwriting was important.  Did anyone else have to do “push me, pull yous” in elementary school?  I certainly didn’t learn the Spencerian turn of the century writing method but we had the Palmer method and a clear plastic card that we would have to lay over our writing to see if it matched the perfect script on the card.  This must sound very odd to anyone under 35…

Speaking of antiques 🙂 this catalog was a very rare find:

tea 6

How many paper catalogs exist that are over 120 years old?  The engraved illustrations are just so ornate and detailed.  Just lovely.

There’s more to list and sift but I’ll be sharing some items here too. 

Just click on any of the above photos to go directly to the auctions.  Sign up for my store newsletter if you like what you see.

Does anyone else find historical paper ephemera this fascinating or am I among a handful of crazy people??  Many would say “Throw this crap out!”  I say to that, “What, are you insane?”  In my opinion, someone, somewhere is connected to this piece.  I’ve heard all kinds of stories from my customers about a particular kid’s book, cookbook, sewing item, event bulletin, postcard, etc. having great significance to them and I love EVERY story that they take the time to email to me.  They usually thank me profusely (although this is not even the best part) for offering the item and tell me their story.  Did I mention how much I love this part?  It’s what keeps me going.  Just call me the Matchmaker.  Even when I don’t  have a particular item, I know where and how to find it.  Today I matched my husband’s boss with a rare book that her grandmother gave her as a child.  She told my husband that she wrote in it so much that her mother threw it away.  😦  I didn’t have the book but showed my husband where his boss could find it on Amazon.  He told me a while ago that she has now ordered it and it’s on the way.  Another happy customer even though she wasn’t mine.. this time around. 

I’m off to sift….

Recently I bought a lot of inventory from a gift shop that had closed.   These neat easel picture holders were part of my loot.  They’re in great condition and if I didn’t have cats that liked to bat things off of my fireplace mantels they would have never made it to eBay!

This is a more ornate display holder with a thicker rack:

pic-holder-2 

This one is not as frilly looking and has prongs instead of a shelf-type display:

small-pic-1

 

These are up for auction this week:

frames-2

 

Saved my favorite for last.  Check out these tulips:

tulips-1

 

Just click on any of the photos above and you’ll be taken to the store listings or the auctions. 

Display your favorite photos, books, certificates, family Bibles, or rotate your kids’ artwork in style!

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