KatieOlthoff.com participates in affiliate marketing and other forms of advertising. We only recommend products and services we believe in and think they will be of use to you. As such, posts on this website may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy. Thank you for your support of this website and our family.

31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Owning a Junky Business Part 2

Time for more questions and answers!

1.  Where do you find your items?
I get most of my stuff from garage sales, thrift shops, or picking at a house/farm. 
Garage sales: usually very cheap, but they take a lot of time and it’s hard to go with my little kids.  I have found some amazing things for VERY little money, though!
Thrift shops: hit and miss.  Our thrift shops have really raised their furniture prices, lately.  And I’d rather pay a quarter for a picture frame at a garage sale than $1.99 at my local goodwill.  That said, I still absolutely love thrifting.  I wouldn’t have said that fifteen years ago, but the truth is that thrifting is in my blood.  (It’s not uncommon for me to pull in the Goodwill only to find my mom, dad, or one of my aunts already shopping in there.)
Picking: Once people knew I had a business, they started inviting me over to look through their junk.  I love picking through people’s old stuff, and have picked through several farm buildings for things like toolboxes, chicken feeders, and license plates.  I’ve also been through several antique collectors’ estates once they’ve passed on, and that’s a great way to purchase “collections.”  Negotiating price in these situations can be tricky, though and sometimes makes me nervous.   But so far, it’s one of my favorite ways to get items for the shop.
Other shops:  There are a couple of shops in surrounding towns that are very junky (and not in the good way.)  I often get great deals there.
Auctions: I wish I could go to more auctions.  There are a lot of estate auctions around here, and I’m told that you can get things really reasonably.  But auctions take a lot of time, and are not kid friendly, so I rarely get to go.  Maybe in a few (15?) years.

2.  How do you price things?
Not very carefully!
Pricing is my absolute LEAST favorite thing to do.  But when I do get around to it, I ask myself, “What would this cost (new) at Target?”  And then I knock off a few dollars.  I want my prices low enough that people look at things and HAVE to have them!  Lately, I think my prices have been creeping up, accidently.  I will be thinking a lot about that before my spring sale.
I have heard that some antique dealers like to triple their money.  And some like to quintuple it.  I guess I’m not that good of a buyer.  I shoot for triple, but sometimes it’s more and sometimes less.  I figure it all evens out in the end.
If I paint a piece of furniture, I like to price it at least $100 above my cost, to make it worth my time.
My mom (who knows more about "real” antiques than I do) and I have had a lot of discussions about decorative value vs. antique value.  Something may have a high antique value because it’s rare or whatever, but it has low decorative value because it’s ugly it doesn’t fit in with modern d├ęcor styles.  I tend to price things on the “decorative value” end and she leans towards “antique value.”

3.  Do you buy and fix up what you think people want or what you like?
Both.  This is a very hard question for me to answer, and something I’ve struggled with for awhile.
I buy furniture that I like.  But I like a variety of styles, from mid-century modern to antique-antique, to vintage industrial.
I will buy almost any small item, for the right price.  Since I’m only open 4-6 times a year, I want there to be something for everyone.  And I’ve had some seriously ugly not-my-style accessories in the shed that have sold almost immediately!
I will not buy things that have antique value if I don’t know, personally, what they’re worth. For example, I don’t know what old tools are worth, so I don’t buy them.  I’ll take them if I get them for free (usually bundled with something else) but that’s it.

4.  How much time do you spend on your business weekly?
Some weeks, I “work” 2 hours.  Sale weeks, I work 40-60 hours.  But the great thing is that those weeks are spread out and I have time to recuperate in between.
I have no idea how many hours I really spend picking, organizing, pricing, fixing things, painting things, advertising, and rearranging.  But it all takes longer than I expect.  I’m terrible at estimating how long a project will take, and then I attempt too many things.  But I know that I would never be able to run my business if I were also working full time, mostly because of my kids. 

5.  How do you balance it all?
Not very well. :)
Because of The HomeShed’s sale schedule, it’s a cycle.  I’m not able to balance it well the week before a sale.  Dishes pile up, I don’t cook much, I get behind on laundry, and my house becomes a disaster.  But after the sale, I usually have a “catch-up” day to get things back to normal.
In June, I started working part time (10-15 hours a week) for the Iowa Turkey Federation.  Even though it cuts into time I could be working at the Shed, it’s worth it.  I love what I do there, and I now have a steady income to use to pay for daycare when I need it.  This fall, my kids have been at daycare regularly, but I’m hoping that things will slow down this winter and I can keep them at home with me more.  But I’ve realized, through trial and error, that working from home while they are here is not good for me or them.  I would much rather they be at the wonderful, preschool-like in-home daycare that I take them to, than feeling ignored at home by mom while I stress out about getting things done.  Our flexible schedule right now really is a great thing.

This post is part of 31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Vintage, Antique and Unique for your Home and Garden.

decorating with junk

To follow along with 31 Days of Decorating with Junk, enter your email address (top right) or become a fan on Facebook.
See you tomorrow!

i'm doing it! 
31 Days of Decorating with Junk Posts:

31 Days of Decorating with Junk Introduction
Farmhouse Style Front Porch 
Modern Farmhouse Design 
Repurposed Upright Piano 
Our Exterior Makeover Reveal
Adjustable Game Table Makeover (In a Ballard Designs Whitewashed Style) 
The HomeShed's September Sale & Fall Decor Inspiration 
Proof that I'm a HardCore Junker
My Gallery Wall
HomeShed Sale Preview and Christmas Inspiration
Cute Green Dresser with Chalkboard Labels
My Favorite Paint for Antique Furniture
Kris's Cabin Tour
Essential Tools for Repurposing
Making a Custom Glaze
Fixing a Stripped Out Screw Hole
How to Make Your Home Your Own
Spray or Brush?
Five from the Archives
Owning a Junky Business Part 1
Owning a Junky Business Part 2
1840 House
Simple Vintage Halloween
Five (More) from the Archives
Crib Spring Repurpose
Owning a Junky Business Part 3
Quick Chair-Do
Pallet Wall Art
Not So Junky Basement
Owning a Junky Business Part 4
31 Days Wrap Up

Would you like to comment?