Monday, August 27, 2012

My Path into the Jungle

As I mentioned before, I began selling what I loved at the flea markets -- baby stuff. I carefully inspected each item of baby clothing I found at yard sales and chose only the best. I washed them carefully in Dreft and lovingly either folded or put each piece on a hanger. I separated the clothing by size and packed them neatly in clean plastic boxes, then into my van to take to the market. I cleaned each stroller, car seat, baby bed and other accessory and packed them next. Last of all were my tables and clothing racks. This was not a chore.  I was working with something I loved.

 I was amazed at how much I sold. I discovered that used toddler clothing, and men's clothing were also big hits. I added gloves and socks to my wares. My little business was doing well and I was having fun, and keeping my daughter with me.

One day my preacher's wife mentioned buying feed sacks at a huge flea market in Texas. I was intrigued to know that feed sacks were still available for purchase. I asked around my local flea market and found out when and where it was and what I should take to sell at such a market.

Armed with the needed information, I pulled all sorts of things out of my house and storage. I discovered 5 punch bowls - where did they all come from?. I had quite a collection of Tiara Exclusives glassware. I packed it all up except for a few items that I really wanted to keep. Mom threw in her extensive collection of lady head vases. I had bought the majority of them for her at the flea markets I shopped while attending college, so she felt I should have them.
Just before the 1st of November, I put all the clothing and baby items in the shed, repacked my van with a bed to sleep on, tables, glassware and lady head vases and set out for Canton, Texas. Mom went with me, and Mariah, who was now 2 1/2 years old.

It was there by the time we got to the market. Luckily we were able to find a space to set up according to what others had told us would be good. We unloaded the van and made our beds. I was too excited to get much sleep that night.

The next day we paid for the space and rented tables. I took great care to arrange them just right. I put a punch bowl and complementary clear glass on each table, then picked a different color of Tiara and other glass to go with it. I mixed the ladies in where they looked the best. I used white sheets for my table covers so not to distract from the items on the table. Displaying was so much fun!

 I started out selling the lady head vases for $20 to $30 each. Everyone kept telling me I was selling too cheap, so I went up on the price and they still sold. This was great, considering that I had not paid more that $5 for any of them, and it had to be pretty special for me to give that much.

The glassware was a big hit too, especially the Tiara. Many of my punch bowls were missing cups. Helpful vendors told me how to find a man who sold nothing but punch bowls, cups and snack sets. I set out to find him right away. I was able to make my sets complete. I had such a successful show, not to mention the fun, that I made plans to do this every month.

Over the next several months, other vendors brought snack sets and punch cups, and other glassware to sell me at prices I couldn't refuse. It wasn't long before I had so much product that I had to rent a storage building in which to keep it.

I soon found other things that sold well and my storage both in Texas and at home kept getting fuller. The small house we lived in soon began to feel the bulge. At first I was able to keep it organized, but as I added more flea markets to the schedule, there was just no time work the merchandise efficiently. I would be home long enough to do laundry and sleep, then it was time to leave again. Before long, I found myself immersed in a jungle of good merchandise, with no space to put anymore.

Close to 15 years and many flea markets and antique shows later, I am desperately searching for a way to get out of this jungle. I have spent many hours of many days organizing but it has only resulted in more room to put more stuff. Each time I determine to dig my way out, the path is blocked by so much prior organization that there is no room to work  The light that is surely at the end of the tunnel is blocked by stacks and stacks of boxes, books and bags.

Some would suggest that I just throw it in the trash or dump it in the Good Will Donation box. That seems like a good solution, but previous attempts at sorting have left me with personal belongings and normal household needs entangled in the stuff that produces income. There has to be another way!

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