Monday, August 27, 2012

in clover: everything old is new again...

My dad commented, "Back to the future!" 

After much soul searching and internal debate, I have decided to return to ebay as a seller, keeping the id Michael and I created in 1998.  I seem to recall that it was Michael's suggestion to call me "lextique" we struggled to hastily establish my new ebay account.  My friend was having some success on the new and novel site, selling vintage items over the internet. It had a weird name, ebay, and we didn't have a clue how it worked but we thought we'd give it a try.

My first ebay sale was a first edition Tasha Tudor children's book.  I bought it for $1 at a local thrift shop.  I had no ebay feedback and no photo in my listing.  It took Michael and me the entire weekend to figure out how to list that one item. It was NOT pretty!  After all that work,  I quickly became bored with the listing when after several days, it still had no bids.  And then, in the last minutes of the auction, a exciting flurry of bidding took place...eventually driving the price to $56! 

I was hooked.  The scanner I bought so that I could include photos in my auction listings  was rapidly replaced by a digital camera, capable of holding up to a dozen photos at a was all quite high tech!  I listed auctions until  very late at night and almost every lunch break from my bank job was spent in line at the post office.  For years, I had longed to quit that corporate job for something more creative. 

I took up selling vintage items while still in college.  When Michael and I met for our very first date, he was a bit shocked to see my entire car piled high with all sorts of "junk" destined for the booth I had just rented at a new antique mall. He was game, though, once we married, to help me scour yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets for fabulous finds we could use in our own home and bargains we could sell at a local antique mall or fair.   

When Big C was an infant, we teamed up with my father and uncle who had begun importing antique furniture from England...sight unseen! Both Michael and I were working 50 hours a week or more at our "real" jobs so with the birth of Big C, we had little time for antiquing.  When my Dad told me I could consign a few pieces of the English furniture in Lexington, we jumped at the chance to rent space in a new antique mall.  This time we had quality furniture to go with our well priced yard sale finds. Maybe I could quit my job....

Sales were up and down and the best we seemed to do over time was break even. Although I wished I could quit my "real" job, I knew that the business as such was not genuinely viable.  

And then I sold that book....and I began to imagine the possibilities.  That one ebay sale changed everything.   I loved my ebay clients.  I still get Christmas cards from some of them. I mailed things all over the country and sometimes I mailed things across the big pond right back to the country they came from.   I sold items to celebrities (like a member of the band Matchbox 20) and to folks who lived just across town.  Aside from my young family, being an Ebay seller became ithe focus in my life.   

I quit my job and sold happily on ebay full-time for ten years.  I took charge of selecting the inventory we imported from England and added French pieces as well. I managed the W. Ky store from afar and sold my wares at numerous antique venues in Central Ky, eventually opening my own brick and mortar store here. 

Ebay grew and grew until it became less of the community I loved and more of a hassle. With the addition of thousands and thousands of new sellers, fraud became an issue.  The economy began to suffer and sales in general began to wane.  The events of September 11th forever altered the import business, making it much more difficult and expensive to bring containers to the US. Big C was very busy with sports and I hated to miss even one game and then Little c was born with health issues. Michael took a traveling job. Eventually it just all became too much.  I closed the doors to the brick and mortar stores and allowed my ebay id to go dormant. 

For years people have been asking what I'm going to do with all that inventory...tucked away in storage....I've never really had an answer.  When I started this blog, I thought I might set up a shop on Etsy, in the vintage category.  But I never did anything about it.   

And then one day this summer,  the universe began whispering in my ear. "Put your toe in the water..." 

So I looked into Etsy again but learning from scratch seemed very daunting.  Old dog / new tricks, and all...

So the universe whispered, "Why don't you dance with the one that brung you?"

I worked through a bunch of reasons why I should not.  I was actually kind of mad at ebay....for changing.   But after arguing with myself, eventually I arrived at, "well, why not?"

This poem, from Rumi, kept coming to me:

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty & frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
-- Rumi

Well, why not? 

Here's a few of the items I chose to begin with.  If you'd like to see all my listings, just click here: 
a french fishing creel....

several pieces of french enamelware....
a french wire market basket....

old english gardening tools...

a french ag award placque...

Same as it never was....

Although my devoted ebay clients have given up following me by now, my (perfect!) feedback picked right up where I left off.  A few hours spent getting up to speed on listing practices, image hosting, USPS fee schedules and bringing my PayPal account up to date and just like that, I'd shaken a good deal of  rustiness off. 

And while my inventory remains the same, I am not the same.  Becoming more contemplative in life is sure to change me as an ebayer.

I hope there is more balance in my life...last time around Ebay often took time, my energy...the buyers, rather than my family,  received my patience....sometimes I was so stressed that I was ugly and angry with Michael who was only trying to help me.  I hope that is different, this time around. 

This time around I'd like to be mindful of the process rather than only excited about the result.  I'd like to remember why I chose each of these old things, to relish cleaning and polishing slow down and enjoy being creative while photographing them and while writing the words that describe them.  

This time around I'd like to keep the excitement but lose the fear.  There was always some amount of fear....fear of making a mistake....and lots of fear of the future.  What if I don't make a profit this month?  This year?  What will happen?

I'd like to let that go.

Apparently even ebay selling can be my spiritual practice.  Who knew? Everything old is indeed new, again.    

Back to the future! 

peace and all good, 



  1. A good reminder, Lisa, that not everything in life has to be "either/or." Sometimes "yes/and" works just fine!

  2. Early eBay days were so exciting. I don't remember the hassle so much as I remember going dumpster diving for appropriate boxes to keep up with the volume of items leaving our house. I look forward to this new eBay adventure.

  3. I have no idea why this blog post sent itself out again was written and posted in 2012....but the Universe (aka Steve) has a mind of its own. Here's to mystery!


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