Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where Are the Bargains?

I am continually surprised at the bargains I run across on an almost daily basis. How do I find them? Where do I go? This is a post to let you in on all of my secrets. Well, maybe not all of them, but some of the thoughts and processes behind what I have been doing to get the low price (and not hurt anyone).
  1. Make the Rounds: I live in a well populated area with many resale shops so it's easy for me to catch quite a few on my way home. Sometimes the way home is a tad bit longer than usual but without going too far out of my way I can check many of them on a regular basis. This is especially important on the right days (customer appreciation, senior, members only, etc) as I can take 25-40% off on senior day depending on the store. One shop has 30% off every Friday so you can bet I check them out about once a month on a Friday.
  2. Check Online Auctions: I can't claim to be a fan of eBay but I do purchase parts on a fairly regular basis. When it says "make an offer" even though a price is listed, I will make an offer, especially if I'm buying in quantity such as bobbin tires, needles, sewing machine oil. Only a handful of my sewing machines have come from eBay, mainly because of the packing and shipping errors that can so easily occur. A few machines have come to me because I wanted them for parts and then I would not mind if a spool pin was knocked off or the front scratched. I do like Goodwill online auctions but I usually bid on those I can pick up locally. The S&H is always dicey unless they pack well and then it's too expensive. They are always "as is" so it might not be much of a bargain. My local Goodwill online auction pick-up is not too far way from home, I can arrange for a pick up on my way to work, and some items are "pick up only" so that eliminates those bidders who live in states where sewing machines are few and far between. They are not adverse to running the price up to get what they can't get locally. I picked up a serger once that came without a power cord and foot control but it was never mentioned in the ad so they gave me a percentage back due to the inaccuracy of the ad. I had the right foot control at home so it was not a problem to get it up and running. So far, so good with Goodwill online.
  3. Tell Your Friends: When I first got into repairing vintage sewing machines it was all I could talk about and my family and friends who certainly got an earful about my exploits (now you can read about them, too!). When they have come across sewing machines they think I might be interested in, I either get a call about how to rescue it or come-pick-it-up message. All of these notifications have turned out quite well with some classic sewing machines that were selling for a song or on the side of the road (thanks Dave, thanks Rose!). Due to the wonder of smart phones I can get a quick photo via text so I can say yea or nae (thanks Sue) and have saved them and myself from a few dogs.
  4. Get There First: This is referring to Craigslist for the most part. You need to respond quickly to the ad and be willing to show up sooner than later. Sometimes my call is only 20 minutes after the post and I'm too late but twice now I responded two hours after Featherweights were listed and I was still the first call. Do I spend all of my time on my computer? Of course not, but I do check in frequently and make my decision to contact the seller on the spot. 
  5. Be Diligent: This is something you need to keep on your back burner at all times because if you snooze you lose. One woman complained that she lost out on the Featherweight that I got after it was posted two hours because she was "taking a break." She probably made the right decision but then one did get away (I was also only ten minutes away from the seller, not an hour). Do I take breaks? Of course, but then I have to realize I will miss out and have to be okay with it.
All of the above tips are not just for sewing machines but include fabric and other supplies, too. It's a fine line between collecting, business, and hording. How much is enough? When I can look at sewing machines that are up for sale and say "No, I already have one (or two) of those" and walk away, I know I will be fine. When I can give up on a repair gone bad and use the machine for parts, I know I'm not as obsessed as I sometimes wonder. Bargains are good but only if you can use them. 

Now back to clearing off my work table so I can get some work done over my extended holiday vacation...

1 comment:

LearningOne said...

Thanks for all of the great tips. I really like your blog. It is fun and informative, with lots of personality. I recently purchased some vintage Kenmores that I was able to find on Craigslist. Now, I need to clean them up, oil them and see how well they work. --Deborah