Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thrifting, honey holes, donations, horrible maternity clothing and beng ethical.

I haven't posted as much as I thought I would, so time for a big update!

Thrifting Honey Holes
I've found a few hits and a few misses of late. I have a Mission Op Shop close by to my house which has lots of cool things, but at a steeper prices than I would expect. I sent in some donations the other week and most of them are still sitting there, priced at anything from $5-$12.

I have spent too much time on Goodwood Road op shopping this week. My thoughts and finds:

Salvos Kings Park
This is my longest Adelaide haunt and other the years I have found some awesome things and, let's face it, some questionable things. The staff there are really friendly, which is nice, and the store has a great layout. This week I found an asos maternity dress that looks totally cool and I intend on wearing it to a murder mystery night on Sunday. Again, prices are a big steeper than I would like, I paid $14.75 for my ultra cute dress, but it was just meant to be.

Sunflower Shop Goodwood
Blink and you'll miss it, but the best way to find it is the bright yellow sign they leave out on the footpath. I didn't find anything there this week, but I have in the past, including a really funk suitcase, and a Nova hat for 50 cents.

The Red Geranium Thrift Shop
Not only did they have a great Weekend Notes write up a little while ago, this shop is quirky, cute and fun. If you're not into supporting shops with a religious focus or mission, the money raised goes to Doctors Without Borders. I bought a whole heap of goodies for Guides and work, and a little Dotti cardigan for me to wear with my new dress.

Uniting Church Kings Park
As a bit of a UC girl, it's tough for me to say things like 'I didn't really enjoy my visit', but, well, I didn't really enjoy my visit. The store was well set out and I managed to find Stephen a shirt for his costume on Sunday, but that was about it. There were heaps of things to look at and see, so I might go back on a different day when it's not so crowded.

I have been working my way through my wardrobe and piling up donations of clothing to take into a store soon. I dropped off some stuff to my local op shop, here's how it went.

Lisa: I have some donations, is it okay if I bring them in?
Lady 1: Just what we need!
Lady 2: We've just finished putting away a whole heap of donations.
Lisa: Oh, if you've got enough, that's fine.
Lady 2: Well, is it rubbish or not?
Lisa: No, I've just got some clothes to donate.
Lady 2: We'll take them.

Did Lady 1 or Lady 2 help bring in my goodies? No. They just sat there mumbling about things. I know what they are saying - people sometimes do us op shops as their personal dump. I worked in an op shop a bit, so I am pretty fussy with what does... and what doesn't get donated. Considering that my donations are still in the shop, it looks like they weren't just rubbish.

Horrible maternity wear
All the shops I visited this week didn't have a dedicated maternity wear section, and as I'm now 'with child' (as I like to call it), I've spent a good part of the week scrounging through racks trying to find things. Plus size wear in op shops can often be hideous or misleading (no, a Large Temt shirt actually means a Size 12-14, which is not plus sized), so I'm facing some new battles there. I went and bought myself a new pair of jeans as I desperately needed them, but I'm hoping that's all I need to spend in a retail setting.

Shop Ethical!
The ever amazing shopping guide, Shop Ethical is a great way to help you choose wisely, and not just in terms of fashion labels. Our biggest department stores are also a cause for concern. However, buying ethically, really, is a personal choice, and sometimes a choice you feel you might choose not to make if and when necessary. It doesn't hurt to be informed, and I won't be boycotting, unless it's advised with some very good reasons. Op shops do give people the opportunity to buy brands they like, but don't want to support. I don't know how I feel about that statement, but it's an option to take at least.

Anyway, that's it from me for a little while. Happy thrifting!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Buyer and seller protection: why I happily pay a fortune to trade on eBay.

Every few months or so I get a buyer who can't pay for their items. Sometimes it is legit, plenty of the
time it is bogus, sometimes I just don't know. I try to give the benefit of the doubt wherever possible. 

The thing is, when I have traded using Buy, Swap and Sell pages on Facebook, I hear them a lot more frequently, get bailed up, whinged at (my favourite 'clearly I was in first, not so-and-so, so I get the item, not her), stuffed around by waiting for people to come and pick things up, people flipping my items for 1000% profit ... the list goes on.

eBay means that I avoid this, mostly. It means that on nights like this, I can email the nice people at eBay and get them to do things like block bidders, advise me on how to not lose money on a sale I didn't make, and so on. It also means that when the buttons I ordered six weeks ago don't ever show up, I report a problem to Mr PayPal (like Mr Monopoly, but better), and he gives me some money back.

Yes, I did just bag someone on a blog, and no, that's probably not professional. The thing is that people who trade on eBay know about this, and I have been burnt a number of times. I'm happy to extend time for payment and all of those things. I am tenderhearted after all. Sellers need to remember though that they only have a small window of opportunity to claim Final Fees refunds through PayPal, and the more people hear this, the better.

I never offer pick up because I don't like being messed around. I post things the same day I receive the money (not all sellers do this!), but I also charge a flat rate of $7.50 for all postage. Postage only becomes cheaper interstate after 500 grams plus, but I can absorb this cost quite happily when necessary.

I also pay a lot to trade at markets, but it probably works out about the same with eBay fees, which sit just below 10% of the final purchase + postage costs. There are other options to set up shop, but eBay is widely used and very user friendly which makes it worth my time and my money.

Some of the problems I run into as a seller are as follows:

-new buyers - sometimes they don't pay, sometimes they bid and forget and never come back online, some are very quick with negative feedback. Others are great!

-postage - I now post using eBay's postage service. They send the tracking number to the buyer and the cost of postage comes out of my PayPal account at the end of each month. Sometimes people don't like paying postage (I hate paying it myself), but eBay has advised me that the agreed postage (whatever the seller lists it for) must be paid. 

-too many questions - I ask questions, and encourage people to. Please though, if you want to buy something, ask all your questions in one email, maybe two if you have a 'a-ha' moment. It's really polite to let the seller know if you think the item is right or wrong for you, this can help them know their customers a bit better too.

Avoiding some issues:

-use the longest standing eBay account you have. I have been with eBay since 2004, and buy and sell a lot. My feedback score is 660 at the moment which means I have done completed way over this amount in transactions, that is just the amount of feedback I have received. As a buyer I really hesitate to buy from people with low feedback scores - for me, anything over 40ish is okay.

-expect there will be things that go wrong. You can offer partial refunds which is sometimes an option, you can have nasty negative feedback removed from your profile, you can solve most of the problems actually speaking with eBay Customer Service. They can phone you back too! Everyone is a winner.

-if you run into problems with a buyer, you need to report it straight away. In terms of non-paying buyers, I block them. Some people leave feedback for them, but this has to be positive feedback (sellers can only leave positive feedback), which gives them a higher feedback score. Most non-paying buyers will have other sellers leaving feedback explaining that the buyer didn't proceed with the sale. Sometimes people genuinely can't pay, but use your own judgement.

-skip the Bank Deposit bit. Bank Deposit does not really give you buyer or seller protection, it can be your word againist theirs, etc. Sometimes buyers will demand to use BD, but this is happen a lot less often now. If they do go down this road, remind them that it will probably take three days to clear.

-do not post if payment hasn't cleared! This goes for Bank Deposit and PayPal transactions. I got caught once, and never again.

-ask for help on the Community Forum... or read the forum to check if someone has had the same problem as you. Usually they have, save yourself some time by following the advice given.

That's my little eBay plug over for the day. Happy buying and selling!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Avoiding rookie mistakes on eBay!

I buy and sell on eBay and I have for a really long time. I make mistakes still, but I have learnt the hard way from most of them. Here are some top tips about buying and selling.

Buying and selling

1. Don't be scared of PayPal.
I quickly learnt how bad Bank Deposits can be (capitals because eBay uses them for this). Sellers would say payment hadn't cleared when it clearly had, buyers didn't like that it would take three days, or longer over a weekend or public holiday, for a Bank Deposit to clear.

As a buyer I have been able to put through a number of claims through PayPal which have held up and I have got my money back. As a seller I often do partial refunds if I can save on postage. There are some fees involved, but you are paying for protection whether you buy, sell or do both.

2. Use online chat if you have problems with eBay. 
There are a few ways to get in touch with customer service. One is telephone chats which is great, the other is an online chat. They can and will fix almost every problem you will run into, including if you accidentally put a crazy big like $50 on a tiny badge.

3. Be a buyer
If you want to sell, buy some things from eBay first. Take note of how it is packaged, what you like about the service and hat you don't, and see how you can apply that to your own money making mission. For example, one seller sent me a lovely dress with a free necklace. I really liked this item and often send out little freebies with my business card attached to the front of the wrapped package inside the satchel.

Just buying

1. Look for free postage wherever possible.
You can search for this in the advanced search option. You can also elect to sort items for lowest price+postage. This is almost always a great option.

2. Yes, you should buy from overseas sellers.
The majority of my eBay purchases are from sellers from China or Hong Kong. They often offer very cheap or free postage. Most of this stuff is of the crafty variety and I'm pretty sure they do this to feed their feedback scores.

3. It's okay to leave negative feedback, but only when necessary.
I got burnt last year when I sold some jeans under the wrong title - apparently they weren't wide leg after all (PS- they were) and the narky crazy, leaving negative feedback and a long long long inbox rant. I didn't refund her because a) she didn't ask and b) she paid $3 for a pair of jeans. I had fully intended on doing so until I read her expletive filled rant on my feedback wall, and had the comment and the buyer removed on eBay. The best way to claim a refund is to apply through PayPal or approach the seller through a private message. The only time you should leave it is when you have attempted to resolve the issue and haven't been able to. Feedback does make the community a lot safer, but give the seller a chance to solve your problem first.

4. Set your limit
Know a bit about what you are buying and set a limit to what you want to spend. For example, I'm buying buttons to sell and refuse to spend over $1 to buy them. I know that similar items will eventually come up and playing bidding wars becomes very tiresome.

5. Accept that sometimes what you order won't be quite right.
Last year I ordered a tutu to wear for the Christmas pageant. It would have fit my tiny nephew very well. One size fits all, or 'adult size' does not always mean that. Other things, like a 'rockabilly dress' which is actually just fancy embroidery, doesn't live up to it's name. This is a chance you will take, so buyer beware.

Just selling

1. Set the price at what you think the item is worth.
At the moment I have been selling items from a starting $5-$15 dollars and often making more than the starting bid. I used to start everything at 99 cents, but often people see the 99 cents price and assume that the seller thinks that's what it is worth.... even if that is grossly untrue. The majority of what I list sells and I rarely have unsold items at the end of the cycle.

2. List up to 40 items for free!
It used to be 3, then 5, then 10... and now it's 40! You can list 40 items for free each month, but eBay will take a fee from the transaction (about 9%). If it doesn't sell, the items are automatically relisted three more times. If you have a lot to sell, it can be a good idea to list a lot at the end of the month, and then the rest at the beginning of the next month... you will have 80 items listed!

3. Postage options
I now only use eBay Click and Send parcels. The satchels cost $3 for a pack of 20 or so (just search eBay for these) and you can post up to 500grams for $7.50. This is a small saving when compared to using padded bags etc or pre-paidd satchels.

The reason I started using these is because it is much easier to print out the label, the general saving, the easy to track parcel postage that is automatically activated when you lodge it at a post office and because I got caught out too many times trying to send items cheaply.

Avoid using free postage where possible as this will cost you heaps of money. People will only bid if they think your postage fee is fair. I charge $7.50, but I don't charge my buyers for extra wrapping, petrol to post office, bubble wrap... etc. Other people do, but as I hate paying postage myself I would much rather offset this a little in my prices.

4. Take some chances!
I mostly sell clothes on eBay, seeing as fashion is my passion, buy I have also sold electronic stuff (eg camera, Sony memory card, iPhone 3...), DVDs we no longer watch, excess wedding stuff like a veil I never wore and decorations, extra crafty things, fabric... oh, the list goes on! Everything I have sold that is a little bit out there has gone like hot cakes.

Some things that don't tend to go include books and textbooks. We have a lot of these things are are looking into better alternatives for passing them on.

Happy eBaying!
You can find me on eBay under my handle: popfunk

xx Lisa

Monday, 29 December 2014

400 days update

Last but not least post of today... an update on my 400 Days of Thrifting Challenge!

Other than my little trip to Savers, I haven't been op shopping for a bit. There isn't a lot I need right now, and I am really keen on downsizing what I have before buying lots of new things to wear.

What I have have discovered so far:

It is really nice receiving something brand spanking new. Mum bought me a new dress from the Target Collection for Christmas and it looks great and is super comfy. This is totally within the rules of my challenge and it was a massive surprise as I didn't know I was getting anything.

Getting holes in things suck. I am having to part with some of my fave PJs because too many holes! I hadn't really decided if I could buy new PJs as part of the challenge, but I probably don't need to as I usually sleep in pajama pants and old t-shirts. How Elizabeth Wakefield of me. We also seem to do a lot of washing (see previous entries about being married to a sportshead), so it probably isn't really necessary.

Shopping isn't anywhere near as exciting as it used to be. It's almost like going on on your Hen's Night. You understand why you used to find such things exciting, but they are now off limits. In short, my quests to the shops only seem to involve Coles, the butcher and the baker. 

Rotation of my wardrobe isn't as dramatic was what I would have liked. I keep looking at things I know I like, but also don't feel like wearing anymore. Maybe I have been hanging onto these things for an emotional attachment rather than for practical reasons. I will do another Great Chuck Out when the summer is finished.

Staples still make up a lot of what I wear each day. I have a set of go-to items such as leggings, my long sleeved t-shirts and my denim vest. But with the weather finally heating up again, I am hoping I can get away with wearing some different stuff, even just for a few days.

I'm loving the challenge so far and looking forward to what the next year and a bit will bring.

My first trip to Savers

It had been a while since my last trek into an op shop, so when I got an invite to visit Savers from a gal pal I was keen as beans! I had only heard good things about this place so I set my budget and off we went. No photos of my mini haul or the store yet, but I'll get there.

We went on half-priced clothing day so there were heaps of people there. Savers is very commercial in the store presentation, so I was totally unprepared for matchy-matchy coathangers and barcoded price tags. 

I purchased:
-a red and black rockabilly striped top from Target for $7.99
- a red spotted dress from the Xpressions line for $10.99
-a black and white spotted dress from Jay Jays, identical to one I just sold on eBay on Sunday for $10.99
-a rose printed long top from Crossroads $7.99
-a blue and white dress I want to refashion a la Refashionista $5.99
-and a toy aeroplane for my nephew's toy box at our place $2.99

In terms of the range, there were lots of items to choose from, but most of what I had found were from department stores such as Target and K-Mart. I am very used to finding a huge range of brands in my local haunts, so this was different. The vintage and retro section contained about 20 items, and they weren't overly exciting. On the other hand, there were anywhere between fifty and a hundred people in the store and people buying trolley loads of things, so some of what we were looking at was probably well picked over.

Everything was sorted out into size, there were change rooms, baskets and plenty of staff. There's even a toilet they let people use - when I worked our op shop we never let people use ours!

It was an expensive trip, especially in comparison to my fave op shop haunts on the Yorke Peninsula, and I probably wouldn't be in a hurry to go back to buy a lot of things unless it was half priced day again. Then again, YP has a lot of thrift shops and a lot of stock, and not always enough stock leaving the shop. I intend on doing a big trip up that way over summer to do some restocking of my wardrobe, as well as adding to my Round She Goes collection.

I really liked how the store was set out and items displayed. There were plenty of toys and homewares and fun things to look through, but yesterday was all about the clothes! 

You're going out in that?!

I'll preface this with a simple opinion that I don't believe I'm particularly offbeat when it comes to my fashion choices. I just wear what I like. Even though there are aspects of styles I love - like my love of rockabilly swing dresses, I couldn't ever be purist enough to be just one thing. There is something nice abut being eclectic, which has led to this post in support of all us not-so-fashionistas out there.

Growing up and a bit after I have always been told the same thing: people don't always like my clothes. Admittedly, I have sometimes worn outrageously strange things (okay, less Lady Gaga than you're thinking) and I also tend to buy a lot on sale, so lots of people weren't too keen on things I liked. Whatever, I can live with that.

Things I have run into a lot have included the following statements and how I kind of dealt with them. Being a sensitive soul, I haven't forgotten these, but water off a duck's back (quack quack).

Are you really going out in that?
The simple answer is 'yes, yes I am'. If yyou're leaving your house, you can also politely suggest that the person saying this is not being seen with you, so what's the issue?

My parents used to say this a lot, and a lot of it was because they hated that I was singled out a lot while I was in Year 11 by a group for jerky guys and a lone ranger. They really really meant well, but nothing quite like adding to your teenager self esteem issues by inflicting the dreaded curse of 'I so don't want you to wear that'. Other people have said that to me as well... but, meh, who cares!

I would feel so overdressed if I wore that!
This says so much more about the person saying it than it does about you. The first time this happened I was wearing jeans, a long faux leather jacket (man, I loved that thing) and a jumper I loved. And it was mid winter.

The conversation that followed at the time was something like this:
Lisa: I kind of wear this all the time, so I don't feel weird at all.
Friend: But we're just going shopping.
Lisa: Oh, well, I've seen you wear similar things before at church.
Friend: But it's church, you're supposed to dress up.
Lisa: Okay, cool. *goes at looks at some homewares*

"Dressing up" often means very different things to different people, that's why we have dress codes for social events. For me, I would much rather be overdressed than under dressed. What makes me feel amazing isn't always the same for someone else. And who doesn't want to feel amazing all the time. Simply put, I don't feel amazing in trackies. So, I don't wear them, unless I'm exercising in some form.

Having said all of the these things, I don't care if someone is dressed up or down if I am the opposite. A lot of this is to do with being married to Stephen who wears a lot of sports stuff because that's always what he has worn and he actually plays a whole heap of sport. So sometimes one or the other will say 'if you're wearing that, is it okay if I wear this?' Usually the answer is yes. As it should be.

You don't own sneakers?
For a few years I didn't own a pair of sneakers. I had some really old ones I would wear camping, but I mostly just wore Doc Martens with everything, and in summer I would wear slides. What did I even need sneakers for? I still don't know. I eventually got some real shoes for gym when I first started having problems with my feet, but I hate wearing them and only do so for exercise and Girl Guide stuff.

I have more shoes now, but to be honest, other than my Docs and a pair of red glittery heels, I couldn't care less about what is on my feet, as long as it is comfy.

Your dress/jeans/shirt is loud/hideous/doesn't suit you
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this, I would be able to retire.

Why do people feel the need to share their thoughts? If you don't like it, who cares?

The simple, "well, I like it" usually suffices in all these moments. And, most people around this rude person are probably thinking 'Okay, who actually says that?' I like most people, and I even like the people who have said they don't like what I have chosen to wear. There are clothes I don't like or think look good. For example, I hate overalls, I hate trackies, I hate fluoro colours. I don't say these things to the people actually wearing it.

My favourite moment about this is as follows:
Lisa: You haven't said anything about my shirt.
Guy: I just really hate orange.
Lisa: Fine, you want me to go home and change?
Guy: If you want to, sure.

I went home and changed, and I vowed never to say anything so silly again.

Stripes?! What were you thinking?
I am a bit of a fan of Tess Munster who wears a lot of things that your average plus sized woman doesn't usually wear. She once posted a piccie of herself in a striped skirt and one of the followers wrote 'Darling, stripes are not our friend.'

I know exactly what she means - just like black slims you down, horizontal stripes give you curves where you don't even have any. Despite this, I still like stripes, and I don't want to discount them just because it might make me look a little bit more round.

The other problem with patterns and print is that it the pattern, especially if it is a stretch fabric, contours to your body, so a polka dot dress might have the small size dots when you're not wearing it, but different sized dots when you are.

Stripes and spots and patterns are all okay, if you feel comfortable wearing them.

In case you haven't worked it out, my standard response to all of these 'complaints' is 'I like it, I thought it was cool, they look awesome on...' and so on. Turn it back into a positive. If I can do it, absolutely anybody can.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Downsizing my wardrobe... every clothe lover's nightmare.

I found another box of my clothes I needed to fit into my wardrobe, so it was time to do some serious downsizing of my current collection. I'm not a minimalist by any means, even though I like the principle of 'less is more'. Most of the time more is just more, and I forget that when I see things I really want.

Based on my love of shows like Hoarders, I came up with the four piles of sorting.

Only my favourite pants circa 2007 got chucked. The hems were ripped and it has a massive pink stain on it from who knows what (BTW, these pants are black, go figure).

Karma of thrifting says you should only send something to the op shop if it is sellable. A filled a bag with ironed and folded clothes which no longer fit me or I didn't really like. The clothes were also seasonable, because who can sell jumpers in summer? Very few people bother.

This is hard because I've always kept clothes to wear for when I lose weight. Of course, invariably I'll lose weight and buy new stuff so this defeats the purpose. I have donated one of my fave t-shirts, well, I used to love it but now, not so much.

I've posted some of my clothes in Pin Up/Rockabilly/Retro buy and sell groups on FB and I have had two sales so far. But it's time for me to get on eBay and start listing things again. That's probably a job for tonight.

Some of my clothes I haven't seen for months so it is nice for us to be together again. To be honest, I will probably do another wardrobe sort again in a a month's time. I have put all my clothes back into my wardrobe and have started turning around the coat hangers the wrong way once I have worn an item. Some of my clothes are really new as they were purchased at the end of season (two snuggly jumpers for example), so I'm not expecting to wear some of them for awhile.

This year I have bought a lot of dresses which is awesome because a dress = not having to match up pants and tops. You just wear a cardigan and tights and don't even have to think about it. The problem with dresses is that they often make a statement so you can't wear them within too many days of each other. It also means that clothes in your wardrobe aren't circulated as often as tops and bottoms are.

This week I have had the chance to wear some old favourites including my denim pedal pushers and my Hell Bunny dress, Now that my wardrobe is sorted (it's in sections of pants/shorts, dresses, skirts, jumpers, jackets, cardigans, t-shirts, uniforms, blouses) I'm really looking forward to getting out some old favourites again. Yay!