Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Dear Vintage Friends....!

I hope this post finds you all enjoying a FANTASTIC week....!  As it seems more often than not these days I'm literally 'all over the shop'....Running here....Running there....Running bloody EVERYWHERE in a mad flap trying to get everything done....So busy if truth be told I don't know whether to laugh or throw my hands up in the air & just BE DONE WITH IT sometimes....Rather than sit & wallow though, I thought it might be a good idea to write a series of posts on what it's actually like running a small TINY Vintage Reselling business full time....It may very well serve as a deterant for anyone out there who thinks we're all leading a GLAM, carefree life surrounded by neat vintage stuff....**wink**....!

So....To start....When I resigned from work this past January it was done so after careful consideration & contemplation....Mr SVJ & I have no debt other than our mortgage which is in GREAT shape due to spending the first five years paying above & BEYOND the minimum payment....!!

I'm a frugal girl by nature & was happy to pay 93% of my wage towards our home & made a game of seeing how much I could scrimp & save from the amount I was left with each fortnight....!  I don't BUY retail/new....EVER....Unless of course you count the Stoopidmarket but then I shop at Aldi so that doesn't really count & as our fruit & vegies are purchased at the Dandy Market each Tuesday....It counts even less....!!

I digress though....

The point is I didn't just resign from work....I sat down, looked at our finances, put a business plan together & weighed up the risks....CAREFULLY....If it wasn't for the support of Mr SVJ & his SECURE income, I wouldn't have been able to leave my job....PERIOD....!!!!!

Alas....As FRUGAL a girl as I am though....I started my business with NO capital other than a home filled with yummy vintage furniture & homewares that I would be able to sell as required....There were NO funds in my business account to act as a buffer so I was reliant on my LAST pay packet AND the proceeds of my stall at Fryerstown in January to get things going....Add a couple of well timed tax returns into the mix & I've managed to keep my head above water these past 6 months....It hasn't been easy though & I'm NOWHERE near drawing a wage....!!

Due to my tight constrictor like budget, I need to pay as LITTLE as possible for my Treasures....There is of course a downside to this....Rather than buying in bulk STRAIGHT from Pickers who've spent the time sourcing Treasures themselves, I need to do the leg work myself....And this involves time....Lots & LOTS of time....!!

On average, I spend a MINIMUM of 35 hours a week just trying to find NEAT stuff....These hours are spent in the car driving from one end of Melbourne to the other as well as country runs & costs me around $150- a week in petrol....

Then comes....The PROCESSING....Which is the NUMBER ONE downside for me (next to the FREAKIN' paperwork)....Because my Treasures come to me as they are filthy, broken, almost BEYOND hope....I then need to clean, repair & decide how far to refurbish a piece to get it to a state that I would then be happy to have in MY HOME....!

Today for example....I spent from 6.30am to 11.45am out the back cleaning my stuff....Bent over, scrubbing my heart out....The yellow rubber dish gloves protecting my hands perished within the first hour so I did the rest 'commando' & have bruised & bloody knuckles, scratches up my wrists & a few more bruises up my shins for my efforts....

In the end....I was left with a pile of ALMOST ready to go pieces....!

In this lot there are several small projects requiring spraying with metal poly....I also need to cut a piece of ply to fit the black atomic looking 50's magazine stand & paint it a cheery red....

Mr SVJ will be happy with these yellow storage containers I found him for his 'bits'....! 
I was initially a little bummed when I found this orange enamel piece as it was missing one of the containers....Of course all I need to do is pop a terracotta pot in there with a succulent & away you go....!! 
Galvanised crates, wire bird cages, wooden & metal stools, Willow trays & buckets....DELICIOUSNESS....! 
This one's a KEEPER....This is the THIRD one of these I've found over the last 12 years & each time I say I'm gonna keep it I end up selling it....Well not this time....It's STAYIN'....!!

Just in case you're wondering, it's a hospital maternity ward bassinet....K-E-E_P-E-R....!!!!! 
After the BIG STUFF was cleaned & drying I started on my textile pile....This is a YUMMY barkcloth curtain I salvaged to sell as fabric....I've NEVER ever found a penny weight before....Usually, lead fishing weights were used etc....This time around I found TWO coins dated 1959 & 1962....**smile**....!!

So there you have it....PROCESSING day at Casa SVJ....

Cleaning heavy items = 5 1/4 hours
Cleaning, sorting textiles = 1 hour
Loading van to go to storage = 1/2 hour
Unloading & reorganising AT storage unit = 1 hour

TOTAL = 7 3/4 hours

** My days not finished though....As I'm off to the The Vintage Shed to restock tomorrow, I need to spend a couple of hours sorting what stock I'm taking down, pricing it, adding the info to my spreadsheet & loading the van....But that's a WHOLE new post....! **

NB: there's probably another 1 1/2 hours worth of work in the items requiring additional work/repair but as it's windy today, I can't spray....This means, items go into storage tagged as WAITING to have work done when I can fit it in....!!

** If you have any questions re this post & PROCESSING day, feel free to ask....I'll answer any & ALL questions in the comment section....!! **

This post was not written to illicit sympathy....Just sayin' it as it is & keepin' it real....I AM hoping it might provide 'food for thought' for anyone thinking of taking the plunge into the world of vintage furniture & homewares or indeed for anyone who visits me when I have a stall at the Market thinking the clean, repaired, YUMMY vintage item READY to place STRAIGHT into your home I'm asking $20- for is TOO much to pay....**wink**....!

Well I gotta go....I still need to get ready for The Vintage Shed before I can even THINK about organising something for dinner....!

Cheers for now,
Tamarah  :o)


  1. Just thinking of you as Kathy and I are at this very minute, (12:36 a.m) driving to Junk Bonanza. Your post is spot on. We have already put $250.00 of gas into this rented truk to get there....but I can't imagine having a business that I could love more!

    Happy 'processing' my friend. Sure will miss you at JB!


  2. GORGEOUS Jan I will miss you MORE my Friend....I've sent Margo ARMED with BIG WARM AUSSIE hugs for both you & Kathy so make sure you bail her up & GRAB one when you see her....!!

    Take care Lovey & have a BRILLIANT Show....Oh & PLEASE take pics IF you get a sec so I can see all the Treasures I'll be missing....!!!!!

    Tamarah xx

  3. Dear Lady on the "other side of the bridge"..

    I KNOW how hard you work & everything you do...
    YOU are "my hero" Tamarah...really...

    I realise I am a total "bludger" just sitting here cutting up crochet circles!!~~

    I INSIST that you & MATT come over for a good home cooked dinner before Xmas with hubby & me..& of course sooty hovering for scraps..

    xxx andrea

  4. GORGEOUS Andrea it's a DATE....**smile**....!!

    Oh & the chances of YOU EVER being refereed to as a 'bludger' are as about as remote as me winning a Nobel....!!!!!

    See you soon Lovey....!!

    Tamarah xx

  5. A big broad smile is upon my dial after reading your post!!!!

    catch up soon hopefully, ... xo

  6. Girl....that laundry lookin basket thing, I have to say , too die for!!!!! Just LUV that sucker, what a find, it would be a keeper for me too! Haven't heard from u in a while! Have a great week! HUgs, janna

  7. Hey Tamarah,
    What an interesting post...I know how much time it's taking me just to remove stains, wash, iron etc ETC vintage sheets and pillowcases etc let alone finding the things in the first place! And what you're doing is much more demanding. I can tell you love it though, don't you...one day I hope to get to Tyabb and see your very lovely/interesting stuff at The Vintage Shed in the flesh. And when I do, I'll remember all the work you've put into finding/cleaning/refurbishing...

    I wonder if I'll ever get my little Sweet Dreams shop up and running and even if, at the end of the day, it's going to be worth it. Being a bit of a fellow cheapskate pricing is the thimg I'm finding most difficult to get my head around...

    This comment is not meant to be all about me so I'd better stop. Before I end I just want to say how gobsmacked I was when you showed us all the amazing bits you came across during verge collection time. I almost cried with envy.


  8. OMG! It's a bloody essay! Sorry x

  9. I hear you loud and clear Tamara! Hence the reason I went back to work part time, out of the home...If you cant find the junk, something has to pay the bills! I now have the best of both worlds, secure money, and still plenty of time for junking sales.They may not be every month now, but I hold a few a year, bigger and more organised!
    Dont be hard on yourself, us junkers understand, and love what you do!

  10. This was a really interesting post and I'm glad you shared the "behind the scenes" that really goes on in this business. We have a booth space inside a big local antique mall and have to do the same thing but on a smaller scale. I can't imagine all the work you are putting in to your shop. Sounds like it's off to a great start so good luck and before you know it, you'll be earning a wage!

  11. What a neat look behind-the-scenes at SVJ! You sure do work hard but at least it's no longer at that "pesky day job". You're free! One day, all your effort will pay off big!

  12. Reading your blog has really made me aware of the time. energy and love that go into 'selling' vintage wares. I think us vintage lovers need to be reminded of that. I also love that you are keeping blogging real! So much of what I read is the 'best' stuff only - the positive things and it's great to hear how it really is sometimes. Love your work!

  13. No doubt you made the right choice. We can hear it loud and clear in every word, scrape, and bruise. You're oozing happiness!

  14. I keep hearing that song "She Works Hard for the Money" in my head. It's so true that a lot of work and sweat equity goes into not just the finding, but the hauling, and fixing of our vintage wares. Thanks for reminding buyers!

  15. Well said Tamarah. It is amazing how many people don't appreciate the work and time that goes into getting your pieces to the stage of bring ready to sell

  16. Wish I was closer! I'd come shopping!

  17. Hi-de-ho Tamarah,
    Hey, I know that pain- hands red and cracked - particularly when those damn gloves disintergrate in the first few minutes and you find yourself scrubbing for sometimes hours - and all too often burning from the detergents used to remove the scum in order reveal the treasure that lies beneath! I sometimes wonder when I find things, if that free roadside find will ultimately be the death of me - but the thrill of the hunt is always way more fun and easily outweighs worrying about that :)
    We hear you dear - and salute your Full time effort; those of us who have ever scoured a hardrubbish pile and dragged something home - between the 3 kids in the back seat - know it's Not easy! You took the leap luvey and I certainly appreciate you and your style and what it's worth! xxx Rowena

  18. I hear your pain, the process of getting an item ready to sell... first you spend hours scrubbing and fixing an item...wonder if it's worth it sometimes. Ohhh but when you find those special items it's all worth while.

    I'm too addicted to give it up, just have to try really hard to sell those items.

    Love your blog,

  19. I just adore your "stuff" and understand what a job it can be. Thank heavens for folks like you, so that the rest of us can shop! :) Kit

  20. You need a powerasher girl. I would not trade mine for the world. Has save me many scrubbing hours.

    I'm reminded of this bible verse when reading your story.

    She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff...27 she looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Prov 18-19 & 27

    See you this weekend.

  21. Hi Tamara i know just how you feel crazy as it is we just love searching for treasures and restoring to glory and most times leave them as they are my friend and i have a small vintage shop in the Yarra Valley both of us work nights so we can take turns at being at the shop or hunting so life is busy for us but love it when someone finds ther treasure to take home i love reading your blogs Barb

  22. oh boy I can totally relate to this post!! Mind you I wouldnt change my job for the world. LOVE treasure hunting as you know. Well done finding the bassinet, I remember you saying a while back when chatting about how you wished you hadnt sold the others. dont give in, I'll be watching you ;0))

  23. Your hard work is so worth it because you find the best stuff! I love that wire basket! Hard to believe someone put a baby in it though. Wish I was there to shop :)

  24. Nice to know it's not just me spending hours & hours on my junk but you know ... I love it! I do try to keep the 'projects' to a minimum due to the limit of only 24 hours per day. (Longer days, please).

    And I've recently decided to sell at one show a month since it's such a fast way to earn $$ and turn inventory. Thanks for this great post!